Advertising geniuses have been turning to mascots to pitch products ever since the Greek philosopher Testicles invented the concept of creepy in 500 BC. It is important to remember that a mascot is essentially a fictional living embodiment of the brand it is trying to persuade the public to buy. In that vein, mascots are generally anthropomorphic alter egos of the businesses and/or products they are shilling for.
Michelin’s main consumer product is tires, so they constructed a man made entirely out of
rubbers tires to be their corporate mascot.
Green Giant sells vegetables, so working off its brand name, it came up with a jolly green giant wearing a leafy caveman era one-piece to hawk the healthy part of our supper.
Mucinex would like you to know it will clear all the shit out of your lungs, and what better way to demonstrate this than with a mascot who’s a giant glob of snot?
Long John Silver’s is one of America’s top seafood eateries in the fast food sector. So of course, their mascot would be a giant fish. What could possibly be wrong with that…?
Long John Silvers is one of the rare fast food joints that has not relied on a cartoonish mascot to get kids to drag their parents in to their restaurants. In February 1995, they showed America exactly why they should just stick to generic ads to peddle their fish nuggets. Norman Bigfish, the fictional finned CEO of LJS, was created for a new campaign that kicked off with that ad above. Apparently, Long John Silvers’ admen test marketed this commercial to a school of clownfish down at the local aquarium, because there is no way a focus group of people without visual impairments could have possibly given Mr.
Biglips Bigfish positive reviews.
If you thought Norman Bigfish would be cleaned and cooked before he could star in another ad, you would be totally wrong. He would appear in a second commercial themed around him joining in a pickup game of basketball (my favorite for the “how about a hook?” line, and the one I really wanted to use in this post, but DAMMIT, nobody preserved it for posterity!)…. and that was it. Before he could film a third travesty to common decency, Long John Silvers decided to kill off Mr. Bigfish.
No, really. They actually killed him off in a press release!
Customers complained in droves about how turned off they were by having to see Bigfish’s ugly piscean face on their TV screens, and it’s no surprise they also lost their appetites for Long John’s. When the franchisees made noise to corporate about the lost sales, Bigfish was sent out into the deep sea on a trawler without an oar, never to return, satisfying the people’s cries for his death. How enormous of a fail does a mascot have to be to be publicly offed by the same entity that brought it to life?
Let this be a lesson for all of you future advertising gurus out there. A mascot needs to do more than just tie into the brand and business its selling for, it also needs to keep the audience you are trying to persuade from running for the eye bleach. And so for this week’s Retro TV Ad Tuesday, the Nest reels in a 1/2 nightcrawler salute for the late Norman Bigfish. Sure Mr. Bigfish was a hideous mess that looked more like a freak from a Japanese horror movie that needed to be terminated with extreme tartar sauce, but we see him as a martyr for the cause of mascot design awareness. And despite this scaly affront to the retina, we at The Nest will continue to eat at the restaurant Mr. Bigfish gave his unworthy life to be the spokescod for… because where else can me and my good friend Penfold get the tastiest free deal in the fast food industry?