Thursday, November 25, 2010


Recently, I wrote a couple of guest blogs for Alex James State of Affairs, which can be found here, and here. The first one was a list of some of my favorite commercials – a fun little endeavor that gave me an excuse to watch some television (research!). I’ve decided to follow up on that with a second (this won’t become a series, I assure you) look at the commercial ad world. So brace yourself, dear reader, for we are about to descend into the wacky world of commercial mascots

It has come to my attention that Energizer has seemingly done away with their famous bunny. While I always liked the little pink furball, he has been going (and going…and going…and going…) for quite some time now, and could probably use a rest. Now the battery company features anthropomorphic household items, singing and dancing, and having an otherwise merry ol’ time, until they collapse into twitching heaps from over-exertion (and, of course, non-Energizer batteries).

In honor of the our long eared friend’s retirement, I thought I’d take a quick peak at some other famous advertising mascots over the years who have, at least to my knowledge, also been left behind.

Warning, dear reader – nostalgia ahead!

Fido Dido

Fido Dido was originally a napkin doodle created by Joanna Ferrone and Sun Rose. The two later stuck Fido on t-shirts with the inane slogan “Fido is for Fido, Fido is against no one” emblazoned beneath him. For some inexplicable reason, these t-shirts were very popular in New York. Licensed by PepsiCo in 1988, Fido became a commercial celebrity by hocking 7-Up. He even had a video game based on his antics, created for the Sega Mega Drive, but it was about as successful as you would assume a video game for the Sega Mega Drive starring a commercial mascot would be.

A&W Bear

The Great Root Bear (get it?) is still used for some A&W products, but his television saturation has become extremely limited. Sporting his orange sweater and pom pom hat, the Root Bear would often greet us on screen accompanied by his trademark theme song – a tuba driven jingle appropriately called “Ba-Dum, Ba-Dum.” The song was actually released as a single in Canada; the bear, however, was replaced by this guy.

Dave Thomas

Dave Thomas, the kindly old founder of Wendy’s restaurants (famous for their square burgers and terrible French fries) was also the kindly old mascot for the chain – appearing in over 800 commercials from 1989-2002. His old man charm combined with his old man looks made him the most adorable human mascot in the history of fast food. And then he died.

The Noid

The Noid was red-suited, rabbity looking creature, who hated Dominoes pizza for some reason, and would stop at nothing to thwart their attempts to bring hot circles of goodness to the hungry masses. Like most things that don’t make any sense, he was created in the ‘80s.

Ronald McDonald’s Creepy Background Characters

I think the majority of these fine freaky folks may still be in rotation on TV - prancing around McDonald land, eating fatty foods and being generally creepy. The gang's all here - Grimace, the Hamburglar, that bird thing, the fluffy guys who I think are supposed to be french fries, some talking food...and yet, it's been a while since I've come face to face with any of them (other than the clown) for quite some time. Whether it's because they have been removed from distribution, or because I have just carefully avoided them for the past fifteen years, is, as always, debatable.

So there you have it, folks. Some long gone commercial celebrities from a bygone era...some fondly remembered, others...not so much. What are some of your favorite commercial mascots?

Tuesday, November 2, 2010


Even if you've been living in a hole underneath a rock on another planet for the past decade, you're probably still aware of Edgar Wright's existence. The British director has delivered some of the finest comedies to the big screen within the last six or so years and with his latest directorial effort "Scott Pilgrim vs The World", he doesn't look like he'll be stopping any time soon.

You'll surely recognize Edgar Wright's trademark directing. His fast action-style editing including whip-pans, crash-zooms and clever transitions have been a staple in all his movies. His distinctive style clearly shows he has a grasp on modern editing techniques and a surprisingly impressive eye for the visuals.

Have I mentioned that he's also a writer? That's right: the blockbusters he's directed were also written by him. Wright has teamed up with longtime friend Simon Pegg to co-write the zombie-comedy "Shaun of the Dead" and cop-buddy-action-comedy "Hot Fuzz". Wright's deadpan humor and dry British wit and sarcasm have been critically acclaimed thus far, and have launched his career as one of the finest merchants on the comedy block.

I will now use these three examples to illustrate why Edgar Wright Is a Director Who Doesn't Suck. To celebrate Scott Pilgrim vs The World's impending Blu-Ray and DVD release (November 9th, 2010), I'll start with that....

EDGAR WRIGHT DOESN'T SUCK REASON #1 - Scott Pilgrim vs The World

I'm downright mystified how this movie didn't do incredibly well at the box office. It should've been an absolute hit. Were Americans perhaps turned off by the strong visual presence of Toronto/Canada in the film? Did people think it was a film meant for hipsters? Makes no sense to me. The film is based on Bryan O'Malley's series of graphic novels (comic books to you idiots). In my humble opinion it has been the funniest, most furiously action-packed film of the year (yeah, I totally stole that line from the very first review on Rotten Tomatoes, but still - it's true), and one not just for the Nintendo generation, but for all. Yes - it may include comic books, video games, grunge rock and geek drama, but in the end it caters to everyone's needs strictly due to the fact that Edgar Wright made it that way: through his stylistic directing and hilarious quick-witted writing. It's probably the closest you'll ever see a comic book coming to life. Watch the damn trailer, and then pick up the Blu-Ray/DVD on November 9th:


Hot Fuzz is a parody of the cop-buddy action films of the late 80's and early 90's. But here's the thing; despite being a parody and comedy film, it's actually a genuinely impressive action film. Edgar Wright and Simon Pegg are surely proud of "Hot Fuzz" strictly for its action sequences, as it holds nothing back and in fact delivers even more than most comparable modern flicks. And then of course there's the comedy aspect. It's clear that Wright studied the action genre endlessly, as his roast of the genre was brilliantly executed. Edgar Wright's crew and style have been compared to Judd Apatow's a lot of late, and if Apatow's attempt at making an action comedy was through Seth Rogen's "Pineapple Express", Wright's "Hot Fuzz" makes it look like a complete joke. Don't miss the violent blow-out of a finale. Here's the trailer.


Shaun of the Dead has the distinction of being not just the greatest zombie parody ever made - but also one of the best zombie movies of all time, period. Wright's epic zombie romantic comedy - or ZomRomCom, if you will - is not only a funny and inventive new take on the genre, but also a genuinely frightening, touching and, of course, gruesome addition to the genre on it's own. It manages to combine the slapstick comedy of Return of the Living Dead (another great ZomCom) with the social comedy found in a Romero film (the opening sequence depicting non-zombified Londoners dazedly going about their daily lives is both hilarious and startlingly accurate), and never allows itself to descend into true parody. It's funny, inventive and mocking, yes, but it's also a gripping tale on it's own, making it a legitimate film. And a funny and unique one at that. Aaaaaaaaand the trailer...

For Edgar Wright fans in Toronto, the man himself will be in the area on Friday November 5th. He'll be at the HMV on 333 Yonge St. (Yonge and Dundas) for an in-store signing celebrating the upcoming release of Scott Pilgrim vs The World. Later that night he'll be holding a Q&A and screening of Scott Pilgrim at the Bloor Cinema. All the info is HERE.

Cheers, darlings.
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