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Icons on Parade

OK, I admit, I was secretly hoping that the New York advertising community would pull off some outrageous stunt — maybe bringing back the giant Sta-Puft Marshmallow Man from "Ghostbusters" or staging a smackdown between the Energizer Bunny and the Aflac duck — as part of the Parade of American's Favorite Ad Icons down Madison Avenue, the kick-off event of Advertising Week, which Heath mentioned last month.

What I didn't expect was such a decidedly underwhelming display of American brand might. The few NYPD foot soldiers posted to the event couldn't even be bothered to stop traffic so Mr. Peanut wouldn't be held up at the light — this in a city where even the Kazakhstan Day Parade can tie up 40 blocks of Fifth Avenue between noon and 6 on a Sunday.

As for the icons themselves, I quote my colleague Alan Deutschman, who remarked, "They were very, uh, life-sized." In short, Kermit needn't worry about losing his spot in the Macy's parade. The Pillsbury Dough Boy, riding in the back of an Avis rental, appeared to be clutching his back in pain. Smoky the Bear had developed a worrisome paunch. A lonely red M&M rode solo. Only Chiquita, the banana babe, looked fresh and young — perhaps because she hasn't been seen at work for several decades. It was all over in 10 minutes or less.

Meanwhile — where were the icons that weren't already long in the tooth? The Starbucks mermaid? The Target dog? The Apple pomme?

Is this a reflection of the state of advertising in America today? That even in the epicenter of the ad world's universe, a marquee event could be so lame? If this parade had been on my Tivo, I confess, I would have clicked right through. Let's hope the rest of the week, which has an impressive line-up of events, has more steak with its sizzle.