No pardon for commercial interruption

Published 12:54 pm Saturday, November 12, 2016

Today, most television programs are not to my liking. Whatever I watch, there are always commercials after commercials to disrupt my concentration. Thank goodness, there are some commercials I find interesting, amusing or acceptable. I thoroughly enjoy the antics of the AFLAC duck and the adventures of the GEICO gecko. These two especially catch my eye and arouse my curiosity.

I had always wondered what the gecko’s name was. When I began researching it, I was disappointed to find that the cute critter was dreamed up by an advertising agency. It is a six-inch animated lizard without a name. Its creators modeled it after real geckos that are not cute at all like the little TV critter, which, among other things, breezes along in a convertible, gets dropped off an airplane, bounces between Virginia and Tennessee, and occasionally speaks with a Cockney accent. I found that the one that appears in the commercials is probably modeled from a Northland Green Gecko that lives in New Zealand.

Have you heard of or maybe remember Elsie the Cow, the Borden Company mascot? She dates back to an ad campaign using a brown Jersey cow in 1938. The sponsors needed a real cow for their representative. The winner was “You’ll Do Lobelia,” a cow born on a farm in Brookfield, Massachusetts in 1932. They changed her name to Elsie. She certainly fit the role well because she topped actor Van Johnson and Sen. Robert Taft in a 1952 poll surveying America’s most familiar faces.

Perhaps you remember Buster Brown shoes for children? (I believe they are still around.) Their ads feature a little boy and his dog with a jingle: “I’m Buster Brown, I live in a shoe. That’s my dog, Tige, he lives there, too.” The ad’s developers got their idea from a comic strip about a boy named Buster who always got into trouble and was rescued by his dog Tiger, nicknamed “Tige.” The comic strip dated back to the early 1900s.

Are you familiar with Nipper? You might be and just do not realize it. Nipper, a fox terrier, was the mascot of the RCA Victor Company. Close your eyes and think hard. Maybe you can imagine Nipper sitting next to one of those “old timey” phonograph record players with its head tilted, supposedly listening to “His Master’s Voice,” which was the RCA company trademark phrase. Nipper’s owner, Francis Barrand, painted his pet, resulting in a work that inspired the advertisement. Nipper was born in the late 1880s. The loveable looking dog lived eleven years. A 15 ft. statue of Nipper stood on display in Baltimore for 22 years. It was finally sold in 1975 for the amazing price of one dollar. Unbelieveable! Now when an RCA ad shows up, you will notice it features Nipper and a smaller fox terrier, which is, as far as I know, unnamed.

By the way, a special effects firm designed that sassy AFLAC duck. Guess what? It, too, is unnamed.



Nina Keenam is retired from the newspaper business. Her column appears on Saturdays.