Friday, April 21, 2017

THE NOWHERE-NEAR COMPLETE GUIDE TO ADVERTISING MASCOT SUPERHEROES: DRINK UP!

Your Humble Editor is teetotal and hasn't had a drink in years. This is owing to, as Robert Downey Jr once said, an allergy to alcohol -- it makes me break out in handcuffs.

Still, superheroes have a moderate presence in the world of spirits, wine and beer (well, I assume in wine, I haven't actually seen any. Maybe I can count "Mad Dog"), despite the associations with kids' entertainment. If Joe Camel is going to be a problem when it comes to keeping kids away from cigs, then I have to assume that Bud Man is sending a lot of Big Wheels into multi-car wrecks, wrapped around the tree with the tire swing on it.

Here's a small selection of beer-gutted good guys, covering the world of hops and barley.

He's so proud of his tiny car.

BUD MAN (Anheuser-Busch)
The de facto alcohol-related superhero mascot since his debut in 1969, Bud Man spawned a multitude of parodies, imitators and unlikely descendants -- the current holder of the name "Bud Man" is, predictably, a marijuana-positive mascot. That's for another entry, I suppose.

In addition to a cannabis-happy clone, Bud Man was part of the inspiration for The Simpson's Duff Man, and was popular enough to earn a raft of merchandise including t-shirts, steins, buttons, keychains, trays, and rolled-up posters -- the barter of the early 1970s! 

The terrific irony of Bud Man is that he was retired when Budweiser saw the writing on the wall as regards child-friendly cartoon mascots for adult products and their increasing unpopularity. After a brief Bob Uecker-intensive interlude, Bud Light came back with Spuds Mackenzie, a hard-partying pit bull whose popularity with children put Anheuser-Busch under the critical spotlight nonetheless. Someone in marketing must have been drunk. 

Hamm and Pepper.

THE HAMM'S BEER BEAR (Hamm's)
Technically speaking, the Hamm's Beer Bear wasn't a superhero mascot but, like most long-running mascots of one strip or another, they acquired a superheroic identity for either a single advertising cycle or series of products. If Budweiser was going to take heat for a cartoon superhero and a dog with a drinking problem, surely a figure which resembled in no small way the mascots for A&W, Sugar Smacks and ICEE was a nuclear threat. 

I still have vivid memories of a Hamm's Beer Bear rotating sign in a dive bar in my old town of Mahopac, New York. This also reminds me that I must have been hanging out in that bar when I was eight years old. Problems started early.


SUPER COOL (Pabst Blue Ribbon)
If Bud gets a superhero, then Pabst Blue Ribbon gets its own superhero. The official beer of ironic detachment ("Fuck that shit! - PABST BLUE RIBBON!"), the Supercool superhero's primary contribution to the presence and prestige of PBR was to be on some iron-on t-shirt transfers which I expect were crookedly applied across the board. 



THE BROOKLYN DEFENDER (Brooklyn Brewery)
A contemporary brewery doing the superhero thing right, they've contracted artists like Cliff Chiang, Jamal Igle, and Khary Randolph (above) to develop superheroic mascots for their Brooklyn Defender IPA. Being fairly new, there's not much history behind them, but it's definitely a case of a brewmaster who loves his beer as much as he loves his comic book superheroes...


BUZZ MAN (and pals, Unsung Brewing Company)
Anthia, Naturia and Propellerhead sound like Nineties' bands attempting wan comebacks, but they are in fact the boozy Justice League associated with Unsung Brewing Company in Anaheim, who commissions original characters and artwork for their custom line. The official mascot of the store is Buzzman, a figure whose mask appears to be a "U" jammed unceremoniously on his face and sent off into the world to sell beer. Seems like more a tragedy than an origin.


3 comments:

Phillyradiogeek said...

Although its for a fictional product, one would have to remember Duff Man. OH YEAH!

Bram said...

Hate to have to be That Guy, but Spuds was a Bull Terrier.

Calamity Jon said...

I hate to admit it but, up until this moment, I didn't know that there was a difference.

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