Two books arrived this week — Meet Mr Product (Vol 1), and Mr Product (Vol 2). Written and compiled by Warren Dotz and Masud Husain, the books depict “the graphic art of advertising’s magnificent mascots.”
Meet Mr Product (Vol 1)
“Although many ad characters have had short-lived careers, others have been around for a hundred years or more. Enticing customers to buy products from frozen vegetables to packaged cake mix, from fast-food burgers to automobile tyres, these imaginatively conceived and illustrated product ‘spokes-characters’ personify the businesses they represent. Many of these businesses began small, but a good number grew to dominate their fields — in large part due to their famous icons.”
Volume 1 has an introductory essay for the first 20 or so pages. Then it’s all imagery split into sections for food, drinks, kid’s stuff, dining, technology, automotive, home, and finally personal and leisure. It’s the kind of book you’d pick up for some nostalgia rather than an in-depth history.
Mr Product (Vol 2)
The second volume, also published by Insight Editions (2015), focuses on the period between 1960 and 1985 when mascots were at their most prevalent.
“These days a warm breeze of nostalgia is blowing down Madison Avenue as advertising agencies bring back characters, slogans, and jingles from the 1960s and 1970s. These campaigns are called ‘retrobranding’. Ad agencies realise that although it took a long time to establish these characters, once entrenched in the American psyche, they continue to be a valuable resource for product identification and promotion. Despite the constant pressure in advertising for new, innovative, and trendy icons, marketers are now acknowledging and successfully utilising the ‘golden oldies’ of earlier times.”
Most of the mascots are from before I was born, and they’re unlikely to return, but you’ll still find some that most of us will recognise — Ronald McDonald, Tony the Tiger, Colonel Sanders, Jolly Green Giant, BIC Boy, Bibendum.
Two solid visual archives, well-made with sewn binding and spot varnished covers. I also appreciated this snippet from the front matter: “Insight Editions, in association with Roots of Peace, will plant two trees for each tree used in the manufacturing of this book.”
They’re available direct from the publisher, or here:
Read Steven Heller’s review on The Atlantic.
And let’s not forget, if it wasn’t for these mascots we’d never have had the pleasure of watching Logorama.