Extreme Makeovers: Mad Men Style
Thursday/September/24 2009 Filed in: TV Commercials
Green Giant Canned Vegetables
The Green Giant didn't look so jolly in his early appearances. In fact, he was scary as hell. He was hunched, scowling and looked on the prowl for bloody Englishmen.
The Leo Burnett ad agency was given the assignment of changing all that. Said Bob Noel, creative copywriter there, "when you try to move the Giant around and really show what he looks like, he comes off a monster. The baby cries and the dog goes under the bed."
The big green guy got an extreme makeover sometime after 1958. No more incredibly-hulking full view shots. Instead he was shown only in silhouette or partial view to make him less intimidating. He also became the jolly Green Giant and was given his signature laugh. After all, how scary could a guy saying Ho Ho Ho be?
And why did these vegetables come from the Valley of the Jolly Green Giant?
Before changing their name to the Green Giant Co. in 1950, the company that made this product was the Minnesota Valley Co.
This animated commercial for Ajax Cleanser reportedly clocks back to 1947. There's a bit of a debate at YouTube about vocal credits. Kingpong61 reports that the deep voice of the trio is that of Thurl Ravenscroft, whose most famous character was probably Kellogg's Tony the Tiger (They're Greeeaaatt!). Carlitosbug disagrees, giving the credit to Joe Silver.
Then Ajax -- who took its name from the Greek warror god -- had an image makeover. No more cutesy little cartoon characters slipping and sliding around your wash basin. Ajax was in the mood for a genuine butt-kicking beat-down. And dirt didn't stand a chance.
And Duuude! What could be more kick-butt than a gnarly tornado?
Stronger Than Dirt!
Further leveraging off the warrior imagery, Ajax again went on the cleaning offensive for their laundry detergent.
The Stronger Than Dirt ad slogan actually became part of rock-culture when, in the 1969 hit song Touch Me, Jim Morrison and the Doors used the phrase and the melody for the last four notes.
Fresh-Up Freddie wasn't exactly the coolest cartoon character to pitch a product. The Keebler Elves had more game than this guy.
But in one of the most successful re-branding efforts of all, 7-Up carved out a new niche as the Uncola. It was a brilliant ad campaign and Geoffrey Holder was masterful as he laughed off the inferior cola competition.