Slate has a feature on this, naming the original Ronald MacDonald (paedophil-beverage-holder-chic); Big Boy (ventriloquist-dummy-psychopathy); Chuck-E-Cheese (crack-bear-living-under-baseball-stadium) and Wienerschnitzel’s The Delicious One (cock-in-a-bap) as some of the worst.
There are some I don’t think are creepy at all, including the Michelin Man (Bibendum) – a comforting, jolly type to my mind, especially after Michelin paid for me to spend a day destroying their wares while attached to Porsche 911s at Silverstone.
I can think of far more creepy ad characters to be honest. What about this terrifyingly vacant twat who spends all night watching you sleep and then shows you his meat?
How about these Olympic mascots, Wenlock and Mandeville, or Giant Walking Cock One and Giant Walking Cock Two, as I call them.
Or Barry Scott – a man determined to shout in your face about a chemical scourer. A disturbed man with case notes as thick as your wrist rocking on the back of a bus.
Even Cara Confused – a wobbly-eyed fruitloop with a haunted fanny and, almost certainly, a house that stinks of cat piss.
Some ads have courted frightening characters recently, inlcuding Bird’s Eye, with a Mafiosa-like polar bear lurking in fridges and chastising – perhaps even threatening – people for buying cheap frozen goods.
And there’s always the suicidal Pepperami things that derive some visceral pleasure from being violently pulled apart.
I like the Pepperami one particularly – it’s funny and it fits the brand, but I’m generally unsure about ads that suggest some sort of implicit – or explicit – threat. The Bird’s Eye ad, particularly, is quite amusing but if you’re basically implying that your customers will receive a horse’s head to the bed and a bullet to the face for not buying branded chicken dippers that seems rather problematic.
For my money you can’t beat Ronald MacDonald, in any of his guises. Clowns are fundamentally frightening, align that with all of MacDonalds’ dubious pester-power marketing; numerous environmental issues and their fucking horrible food and you have a right bastard of a corporate mascot.
Here’s one from my youth that used to creep me out, despite the fact that it’s a great ad and had the comforting voice of Brian Wilde behind it.
And another that used to drive my infant brother to terrified screams. Still gives me the willies. Wonder what Mr Soft’s willy was like.
Big boy image by elycefeliz ; Chuck-E-Cheese image by Mr Cortes