Icons of Advertising
May 11, 2015 by JoBe Cerny
May 8th was a great night for me. The Museum of Broadcast Communications opened a new exhibit to the public, A Salute to Advertising’s Greatest Icons. It was a gala event, and the attendance filled the auditorium. This is the first exhibit dedicated to the Chicago Icons of Advertising in television commercials. The ten Icons will be on display until October 31st of this year.
The first Icon was The Jolly Green Giant and he made his debut in 1925. Leo Burnett was a writer at an advertising agency named Erwin Wasey. Leo Burnett dubbed the print character the Jolly Green Giant. When the Jolly Green Giant made his debut on television in 1961, it was for the Leo Burnett Agency, and Len Dressler was the voice of the Jolly Green Giant. Kellogg’s Snap, Crackle and Pop were the first Spokes-Characters. They appeared in the 1930’s on radio and movie shorts called Breakfast Pals. Tony the Tiger also started as a print character. Thurl Ravenscroft provided Tony’s voice beginning in 1955 until he passed in 2005. Lee Marshall is now Tony’s Voice. The Raid Bugs came alive in 1956. Early animation was done by Tex Avery who worked on Bugs Bunny. Mel Blanc voiced the first bug. Initially all the bugs looked alike. But in 1963, Don Pegler gave each of the bugs a different personality and look, and they were voiced by many voice actors. Joel Corey, Jeff Lupetin, and I did the signature Raid Yell live. Joel did the Snap, Crackle, Pop jingle, and I did the Doughboy’s giggle.
In 1957, Mr. Clean began as a drawing of a Genie by Richard Black. In 1958, House Peters, Jr. appeared as Mr. Clean, but the message was delivered by jingle singers. The lyric was, “Mr. Clean gets rid of dirt and grime and grease in a minute. Mr. Clean will clean your whole house and everything that’s in it.” In 2013, Mr. Clean got an updated image. In 1961, Charlie the Tuna first appeared as the hipster tuna, and he was voiced by Hershel Bernardi. Danny Dark was the announcer who said, “Sorry Charlie, only the best tasting Tunas are Starkist.” Ronald McDonald, the Hamburger-Happy Clown first appeared on local TV in Washington, D.C. Willard Scott, the long-time weatherman on NBC’s Today Show wore a red and yellow jump suit and white gloves. Needham, Harper and Steers created McDonald Land and its characters in 1970 and Ronald went international. In 1966, Rudy Perz created the Pillsbury Doughboy. Rudy noticed that the dough popped out of the can and gave that gave birth to the Doughboy. The original commercials were created with stop action claymation. Paul Frees was the original voice of the Pillsbury Doughboy, but on Paul’s passing in 1986, JoBe Cerny became the voice of the Pillsbury Doughboy. This year will be the 50th Anniversary of the Pillsbury Doughboy. In 1968 a casting call went out for a charismatic cat. The cat who was to become Morris the Cat came from the Hinsdale Humane Society. Morris became the world’s most finicky cat because he insisted on 9 Lives. John Erwin gave Morris his humorous sarcastic voice. In 1969, Leo Burnett agency created The Keebler Elves. The legend was Keebler cookies, crackers, and snacks were made by Elves in magic ovens to make them uncommonly good. After all “a little elfin’ Magic goes a long way. Ernie Keebler was first voiced by Walker Edmiston and later by Parley Baer. J.J. Keebler was voiced by Alan Reed Sr. Danny Dark was the announcer.
The Museum of Broadcast Communications is located at 360 North State Street, Chicago, Illinois. The phone number is 312-245-8200. A Salute To Advertising’s Greatest Icons will be available for viewing through October 31st of 2015. It presents some of the greatest Chicago advertising ever created. The subtle nuances of these campaigns were great ways to endear these products into consumers’ lives. They all have a warm, friendly, comedic tone that consumers enjoyed, and memorable slogans, and that became part of Americana. I was glad I got to work on many of these campaigns over the years. The museum is conveniently located in the heart of the advertising district. It is an exhibit that is worthy of serious study of the art of advertising.