Using Cartoons in Marketing

Historically, the reason why marketers use cartoons is that it usually adds a more ‘human-like feel to a brand. It also makes them more friendly while evoking trust. Traditionally, mascots and cartoon characters make a brand much more recognizable. For example, I immediately know Tony the Tiger reps Kellogs Frosted Flakes when I hear him say, ”They’re grrrrrrrreat!”.

When cartoon characters are used, tedious or stale ads can appear more attractive or inviting. They can even turn boring content into something appealing and visually fun. Thus, caricature art continues to play a part in marketing tactics.

Caricature art is the art of exaggerating or distorting a person’s physical features or character traits in order to create an amusing or satirical effect. The art dates back to Ancient Greece, where it was used to make political statements and satirize public figures. They use various techniques to create their art to generate different results, such as exaggerating facial features, creating cartoon-like characters, or adding humorous, exaggerated details.

Since then, caricature art has evolved into many different styles and purposes. In the 20th century, caricature artists began to use their art as a form of advertising, creating recognizable cartoon characters to represent a particular brand.

Today, caricature art is still used in many forms. These particular artists use their talent to either make a statement, entertain, advertise, or for a fun family portrait setting. In whatever form, caricature art has become an important part of popular culture.

Brand characters in advertising

The list below features some of the most iconic brand characters in advertising history. From the Michelin Man to KFC’s Colonel Sanders, these characters have become part of the cultural fabric and have been used to help market and promote products for decades.

Each character has a unique personality and looks that resonate with viewers of all ages and backgrounds. Read on to see who these beloved brand characters are that have been used in advertising over the years:

  • Michelin Man, Michelin
  • Mr. Peanut, Hormel Planters peanuts
  • Jolly Green Giant, B&G Foods
  • Tony the Tiger, Kellogg’s Frosted Flakes
  • Kool-Aid Man. Kraft-Heinze Kool-Aid
  • Marlboro Man, Philip Morris Co.
  • M&M’s Guys, Mars Inc.
  • Ronald McDonald, McDonald’s
  • Chester Cheetah, Frito-Lay Cheetos
  • The Energizer Bunny, Energizer Holdings batteries
  • Toucan Sam, Kellogg’s Froot Loops cereal
  • Trix Rabbit, General Mills Trix cereal
  • Snap, Crackle, and Pop, Kellogg’s Rice Krispies cereal
  • Bounty Paper Towel Man, P&G
  • The Aflac Duck, Aflac Insurance
  • The Pillsbury Dough Boy, The Pillsbury Company (now owned by General Mills)
  • Colonel Sanders, KFC

Early on in my career, as the program director for a Michigan chapter of the American Advertising Federation, I had the opportunity to host monthly events featuring professionals in advertising. One of the most memorable guests I was able to secure was Jobe Cerney, the voice of the beloved Pillsbury Dough Man. His story was a hit with our participants, and we were thrilled to have such a high turnout for the event. And yes, he let us poke his belly! (Hee, hee)

Why are viewers attracted to cartoon characters?

It’s no surprise that cartoon characters have been used in advertising for decades to help promote products and services. There is something inherently attractive about cartoon characters that draw viewers in and help them connect with the product they are advertising. According to my mother, when I was a toddler, I would be playing with my toys and such during whatever program was on, until the commercial break. Then, my eyes would be glued to the screen. I think I was destined to work in this field, no?

Ad cartoons can be comedic, quirky, and even a bit mischievous, making them fun to watch and relate to. For example, who can forget the line, “Silly rabbit, Trixx are for kids!”? That poor rabbit was always trying to get that cereal. This brings to mind how cartoons can also be used to evoke a feeling of nostalgia and create a sense of familiarity with the viewer like the rabbit is for me. More specifically, I loved that crazy bird that was always, “Coocoo for Cocoa Puffs!”. See, merely thinking about that made me want to go out and buy a box.

Cartoon characters can easily be customized to fit the brand’s image, allowing viewers to create an emotional bond with the product or service. Furthermore, they can be used to simplify complex concepts and explain difficult topics in an entertaining and engaging way. Like the Energizer Bunny does!

Are animated ads more effective?

As already demonstrated and talked about, yes, they are more effective. Animated ads offer a level of creative freedom that is not available with static ads. They make use of multiple elements, including sound, visuals, and motion, to create an immersive experience. This allows them to capture viewers’ attention and help them understand the concept that the ad is trying to portray.

Furthermore, animated ads convey complex concepts in an entertaining and engaging way. Additionally, they can be used to evoke emotion and create a strong connection with the audience. All of these factors make animated ads more effective than static ads.

However, animation does not have to be limited to video only. For instance, many brands use animation in the banners that run across their websites in their digital marketing efforts. Keep in mind that according to recent research from Crisp Media, banner ads with animation are 4.5 times more effective than static ads. And with advertising leaning more toward the digital side of things, we will see this trend continue.

For various reasons, banner ads with animation are 4.5 times more effective than static ads. To start, animation adds a level of creativity to the ad that static ads can not match. Animation allows for a high degree of visual engagement and helps viewers to stay focused on the ad for a longer period of time.

Moreover, animation offers a sense of dynamism and movement that easily captures the attention of viewers and evoke emotion as well as create a strong connection with the audience. When strategically placed, animation can help viewers better understand the ad’s concept and more easily remember it later. And remembering is the key! Music is fabulous when used correctly as well, especially with its repetition and catchy notes. (Hmm, that sounds like a topic for the next article…)

Using cartoons in marketing

In conclusion, animation is a powerful tool for advertisers, helping them to engage with viewers, evoke emotion, and create strong connections with the audience. With the rise of digital marketing, animation is becoming even more important and can help brands to stand out from the competition.

Working in the professional advertising industry, we can often be seen as very “grown-up”, but when it comes to animation, we are just like kids in disguise. With creativity and imagination,  we create amazing stories and visuals that captivate and engage viewers for years to come. Animation allows the freedom to express ourselves and create something that is truly unique and, hopefully, memorable. So the next time you see an animated ad, remember that behind it is an artist with a kid’s heart!

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