If we could all push a button and be babies again, we’d probably do it. The past decade and fraction of this year have made that abundantly clear. From Boss Baby and Baby Groot to Snapchat’s baby filter and the unstinting force that is The Child (aka Baby Yoda), our new default form of gentrification is babyfication. Maybe this is because we all feel like wayward infants—uncontrollably sobbing and shitting everywhere. Whatever the reason may be, brands are embracing the baby craze. If you make it cute, they will consume. For example, a Planter’s Super Bowl commercial killed off Mr. Peanut. The Kool-Aid man shed a tear and from that tear, Mr. Peanut was reincarnated as Baby Nut. Now that the grieving period is over, Mr. Peanut’s timely passing has elderly mascots getting their affairs in order. Those that were once joyful now feel the full weight and fear of ageism. Companies around the world are preparing to take a page out of Baby Nut’s book of cautionary tales. That said, let’s take a look at some famous brand mascots at risk of being babyfied in 2020 .
Cover Photo: Lucasfilm/Planters
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Proctor and Gamble’s Mister is 62 years old and looks like Jean-Luc Picard on steroids. Unfortunately, the “dad bod” made muscles uncool and Baby Nut made Mr. Clean more irrelevant than Stone Cold Steve Austin at the NAACP Image Awards. While bald will forever remain beautiful and cleanliness is a perk (especially as the coronavirus threatens all that we hold dear), that won’t be enough to keep the Texas rattlesnake’s anal-retentive cousin from being replaced with the adorable Baby Clean—smiling in his mother’s arms as she admires her wide variety of cleaning products.
The Michelin brothers introduced their Michelin tire mascot, Bibendum (aka the Michelin Man) to the world in 1894. The iconic cartoon is a man made out of tires. It’s time for him to retire (too easy). He’s been a round for a long time and now he’s at the end of his road. His tenacity has been anything but synthetic. As he lies beaten and battered in a junkyard, wondering where it all went wrong, Mini Michelin will be fitting his first Toyota Prius with fresh rubber.
The cheetah mascot of the immortalized cheese snack, Cheetos has undergone several transformations since his birth in 1986. His appearance has stayed relatively the same but his target audience has changed with the times. He’s a people-pleaser. That said, he is the most at risk of babyfication; the baby-obsessed demographic loves gluten-free Cheetos.
Tony the Tiger
Every now and again we all need to be given a thumbs-up. When things just aren't going your way, a bowl of sugar in the morning is just what the doctor ordered. For 50 years, Kellogg's charming mascot has been the guy to give his stamp of approval and Frosted Flakes has reaped the benefits.
Rich Uncle Pennybags
Mr. Monopoly has been filling his pockets with our money since 1936. Pennybags is rich, his fortune immense. With every estate comes a string of potential beneficiaries patiently waiting for the family patriarch to croak. Uncle Pennybags has read the writing on the wall; only one name will be read in his will and testament: Baby Big Bucks (Pennybags’ second cousin’s sister-in-law’s newborn).
The Jolly Green Giant
B&G’s superhuman face of frozen and canned vegetables has been strutting his stuff since the 1920s. In 1973, a Sprout character was introduced as an apprentice to the Jolly Green Giant, helping him tend to Jolly Green Giant Valley. In those initial advertisements, Sprout was an enthusiastic and diligent student. However, Sprout hasn’t been seen in years; rumor has it, the JGG and Sprout had a falling out due to a disagreement over whether or not ketchup is a vegetable. Broken and bitter, Sprout has taken to the shadows, wallowing in a whirlwind of coca plants and suggestively-shaped carrots. It won’t be long before he (or one of his unplanned offspring) rises up and challenges the JGG as the face of B&G.
There are entire generations of people whose childhoods are framed by one particular utterance of gratification: "Oh yeah!" It began in 1954 when Kool-Aid’s anthropomorphic pitcher filled with tropical punch burst through his first wall. The phrase has been heard off in the distance for decades—somewhere, someone always seemed to be enjoying a refreshing drink courtesy of the fun-loving container. Oh yeah. The Kool-Aid Man was at Mr. Peanut’s funeral; he knows what’s coming. Oh no. It’s time for him to go.
Captain Morgan was inspired by a 17th-century pirate named Sir Arthur Morgan. That swashbuckler has been a consistent reminder that we are in charge of our destinies. We won't go home early, sob, vomit or shit ourselves. We will take solace in the fact that a child will never be the face of an alcoholic beverage; we will step on anyone and everything because there is indeed a little captain in us.