Branding Has Gone Too Far
One of the smartest things a company can do is put a face to a brand.
For Procter & Gamble’s world-famous cleaning product Mr. Clean, this came in the form of an eponymous mascot, the half-genie, half-sailor, Mr. Clean himself.
First introduced in the late 50s, households around the world have intimately known Mr. Clean for decades, largely thanks to great advertising and a darn catchy jingle. But has the mascot evolved in all the wrong ways over the years? While the cleaning solution itself has been rebranded as better and stronger, did Mr. Clean himself have to follow suit?
As traditional animation becomes increasingly replaced by computer animation, artists and companies have more options than ever before to bring their ideas to life. But after Mr. Clean’s big appearance during the Super Bowl, we’re left wondering if we’re seeing too much of his bald head and bulging…um… muscles.
Mr. Clean wasn’t always the walking sexbot the company masquerades him around as today, though perhaps he was always destined to become this.
First designed in 1957 by advertising agents Harry Barnhart and Ernie Allen, Mr. Clean was later refurbished by illustrator Richard Black and prepared for commercials by animator Hal Mason.
Fun fact: Mr. Clean’s first name is Veritably. You know, in case you doubted that he was actually clean or anything.
According to Procter & Gamble, Mr. Clean’s muscular, tan, and bald look was inspired by a sailor in the Navy stationed in Pensacola, Florida. Black would later describe Mr. Clean as a “Genie in a bottle,” which has led many to believe he is indeed a cleaning genie. His earring and frequently-crossed arms also reinforce this belief.
As Mr. Clean became the best-selling household cleaner on the market in the late 50s, so did the mascot’s TV career take off thanks to the brand’s clever advertising. Though frequently animated, Mr. Clean has also appeared in human form thanks to character actors such as House Peters, Jr. and Mark Dana.
But in recent years, Mr. Clean has left behind his “squeaky clean” persona and has paradoxically become pretty dirty himself.
I blame this on computer animation, through which Mr. Clean has entered the uncanny valley complete with too many muscles (and other bulges) made far too obvious by his too-tight shirt and pants. This has been going on for some time now, but Mr. Clean’s big Super Bowl commercial last weekend only confirmed what we had been both fearing and suspecting for some time: Mr. Clean is transitioning into a sex symbol.
And naturally, people can’t quite handle it.
Twitter went wild after the commercial’s debut. See what people had to say, including Mr. Clean himself…