One ad character becomes more human, another more superhuman this week


In a television ad campaign breaking April 15, one brand’s ad character is being made over to “show he’s just a normal guy.” And in a new phase of another product’s campaign, the brand’s icon is being remade to have more supernormal powers.

Kool-Aid Man: becoming more normal

The Kool-Aid Man has been around since 1954 and in his present form since 2000.

He was played by an anonymous actor in a pitcher-shaped, foam-rubber suit with a big smiley face, and his main talent seemed to be blundering into and crashing through walls.

“He said a few things here and there, but he really didn’t have a developed personality,” Kraft Foods senior brand manage Erica Rendall explained.

Now all that’s changing.

In the new campaign, he’s computer-generated and, according to an Associated Press report, will “take on the personality of a celebrity trying to show he’s just a normal guy.” This, in Rendall’s reasoning, will “fill in the blanks in [his] character so people can relate to him.”

One of the new commercials

opens with the character’s silhouette behind a shower curtain. When he steps out, he’s a clear pitcher of water and he explains in a voiceover that his life isn’t all “cherry and sweetness.”

“I put my pants on one leg at a time,” the voiceover notes, as he stands in front of a pantry full of Kool-Aid mixes deciding what to wear. “Except my pants are 22 different flavors. I’ve got grape pants. I’ve got watermelon pants.”

The brand’s sales were down 5 percent last year and 4 percent the year before, so it may take more than “relating” to a computer-generated character’s “developed personality” to change that.

The Most Interesting Man in the World: becoming more supernormal

While one beverage brand’s mascot strives to become more human, another’s commercials show its main character becoming more superhuman, with the power to change the calendar.

Dos Equis beer’s ad icon is a takeoff on the Chuck Norris jokes that Conan O’Brien introduced on NBC’s Late Night around 2005. These included factoids like

  • Chuck Norris counted to infinity – twice.
  • Chuck Norris’s tears cure cancer. Too bad he’s never cried.
  • When the Boogeyman goes to sleep every night, he checks his closet for Chuck Norris.
  • The Great Wall of China was originally built to keep Chuck Norris out. It failed miserably.

The Dos Equis Most Interesting Man in the World is a Chuck Norris, on camera, with a Mexican accent (played by actor Jonathan Goldsmith). According to the even dozen commercials he’s appeared in since 2007,

  • He’s bench-pressed two young Asian women, along with the chairs they were seated in.
  • If he were to punch you in the face, you’d have to fight off the strong urge to thank him.
  • He can speak French, in Russian.
  • He successfully dodged six bulls while running toward them at Pamplona.
  • The police often question him just because they find him so interesting.
  • And so on.

But now, in advertising running through the beginning of May, he’s going even further and changing the very calendar.

In a promotion featuring a Los Angeles celebration and a contest to win free tickets to it, he’s moving the Cinco de Mayo – the Mexican national celebration of victory over occupying French forces – from the Sunday it falls on this year to the preceding Thursday, May 2 (the Dos de Mayo), to go with the two Xes in the brand name.

Funny – he has the power to change the calendar but not to fit three more Xes onto the label.

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