What is it that makes a character unforgettable?
As part of its 80th Anniversary edition, Adnews did a piece on who readers felt were the “most unforgettable” characters from Australian TV commercials.
The top 10 were:
- The Gobbledok (Smiths Chips)
- Norm (“Life Be In It”)
- Louis the Fly (Mortein)
- The French kids in the Petit Miam Commercials (Yoplait)
- The gap-tooth boy who says “that’s nor how you make porridge” (Uncle Toby’s Instant Porridge)
- The Grim Reaper (1980s AIDS campaign)
- The Goggomobile guy and the women from the “Not. Happy. Jan” commercial (Yellow Pages)
- The Paddle Pop lion (Streets Icecream)
- Coco the Monkey (Coco Pops)
- Fido Dido (7-Up)
[Clockwise from Top Left: Louie the Fly, "Norm", The Paddle Pop Lion, Aeroplane Jelly, Fido Dido, Coco Monkey]
Five of those characters are animated. Two others (the Gobbledok & Grim Reaper) were costumes, but would probably be done in CG animation today.
So why does animation seem to dominate in this visual medium?
It may be that, like good brands, animated characters do not change much. They don’t grow up or move onto other things. They can stay the way they are for the next generation to enjoy. They can also do oulandish things that make them truly likeable. Most of all, they just look different from what we commonly consider “reality”.
There’s other great benefits too. You don’t have to pay them royalties for extra runs of the commercial or deal with their unions.
Animation also goes hand-in-hand with music like no other medium. In the same edition, Adnews also found that many of the longest running advertising campaigns were jingle-based animations. “Norm” (Life Be In It) & Louis the Fly made it into this category. The longest running campaign was the iconic Aeroplane Jelly – 80 years!
So for many of these brands, an investment in an animated icon has certainly been a worthwhile one.