Sugary cereal or crispy pickles? Giggling dough or posh peanuts? Our second week (and sixth day) of EW’s Big Shill bracket game pits some seriously disparate ad mascots against each other – at least, in the Creature Division. About the only thing the pointy-eared Count Chocula has in common with the pointy-beaked Vlasic Pickles Stork is they both have a pointed resemblance to other beloved pop-culture characters (more on that below). Then we’ve got the Pillsbury Dough Boy vs. Planters Peanuts’ Mr. Peanut – they walk, they (sometimes) talk, and they have a distinctive fashion sense all their own. In the Human Division, two adorable babies – one peddling for online financial services company E*TRADE, the other hawking for baby food giant Gerber – battle it out, and it ain’t gonna be pretty. And finally, in what may be one of our hardest-to-call contests yet, the letter-fielding Snapple Lady faces off against the Tarot-card-reading Miss Cleo. Check out the entire Big Shill bracket here, and then get to voting!
Product: Count Chocula Cereal
Debut year: 1971
Catchphrase: “Loads of chocolatey marshmallows in every bowl!”
Claim to fame: Along with fellow mascots/rivals Franken Berry and Boo Berry, the Count has held children in his thrall for his sugary cereal (that’s part of a complete breakfast, mind) for going on four decades.
Strength: Beyond his iron-fisted control of the “monster cereal” market (the beasts Berry never stood a chance, really), he also pre-dates Sesame Street’s Count Von Count by a year.
Weakness: Beyond the fact it seems … unnatural for a vampire to be so obsessed with chocolatey marshmallows, he should never, ever, take human form again.
VLASIC PICKLES STORK
Product: Vlasic Pickles
Debut year: Late 1960s, although the version using the following catchphrase debuted in 1974
Catchphrase: "That's the best tastin' pickle I ever hoid!"
Claim to fame: Initially designed to appeal to the myth that pregnant women crave pickles (obviously), the Vlasic stork was re-conceived in the image of Groucho Marx, brandishing the pickle like a cigar.
Strength: His ability to grasp pickles with prehensile wing-tips defy the laws of nature.
Weakness: With a beak that does not appear suited to biting clean through a hard pickle, he's condemned to never actually hear how great tasting Vlasic pickles are.
PILLSBURY DOUGH BOY
Product: A vast array of Pillsbury products, from biscuits to icing.
Debut year: 1965
Catchphrase: “Nothing says loving like [insert product name here]. Tee-hee!”
Claim to fame: That high-pitched giggle at the end of every ad is easily one of the most instantly recognizable sounds in advertising.
Strength: So adorable, people do not ever seem to mind he’s wandering around their kitchens, randomly interfering with their baking.
Weakness: Those same people simply will not stop touching his tummy.
Product: Planters Peanuts
Debut year: 1916
Catchphrase: He's above such crass ballyhooery. (What? It's a perfectly cromulent word.)
Claim to fame: Created by a 14-year-old boy in a company contest (the kid won five bucks), the top-hat-and-monocle'd Mr. Peanut helped rebrand the salty legume as an upscale treat, instead of a lowly snack for the poor and downtrodden (i.e. the peanut gallery).
Strength: One of the ad world's most enduring mascots, he's currently voiced by none other than Robert Downey Jr.
Weakness: No matter how hard he tries, he simply cannot make the monocle happen.
Debut year: 2008
Catchphrase: Isn’t the ability to talk in complete sentences enough?
Claim to fame: First appearing during a particularly excellent Super Bowl, the video chatting (and chatty) infant already appears to know more about the stock market than most adults.
Strength: Not only can tot talk, he’s wisely getting a very early start on investing for his retirement.
Weakness: He spent much of last year embroiled in an ugly legal feud with Lindsay Lohan, thanks to the following ad:
Product: The Gerber line of baby foods
Debut year: 1928
Catchphrase: That adorable punum is the sales pitch.
Claim to fame: Modeled after the five-month-old neighbor of artist Dorothy Hope Smith, she's appeared on pretty much every Gerber product for over 80 years. (The baby grew up to be a high school English teacher and mystery novelist -- which kinda makes sense, considering her identity remained a mystery for half a century.)
Strength: Unlike several other long-lasting mascots in this competition, she's never needed to have any work done.
Weakness: All these years, and the rug rat still can't say a single word.
Product: Snapple beverages
Debut year: 1993
Catchphrase: “Made from the best stuff on earth!”
Claim to fame: Real-life Snapple employee Wendy Kaufman began answering letters sent to the company, some ad execs took a shine to her, and the rest is advertising history.
Strength: A New Jersey fan asked her to the prom – and, be honest, she is so instantly appealing, you’re kinda jealous you hadn’t thought to do the same.
Weakness: Opening all those letters is bound to lead to a fair number of paper cuts.
Product: A "free" call-in psychic reading hotline
Debut year: 1997
Catchphrase: "Call me now!"
Claim to fame: Youree Dell Harris' late night, basic-cable ads as a sassy, Jamaican psychic with "the power of the Tarot" at her fingertips became a world-of-mouth Gen X sensation and made "Miss Cleo" an instant celebrity.
Strength: With her powers of clairvoyance, she clearly knew her all-seeing Tarot cards would reportedly rake in upwards of $300 million.
Weakness: Those same cards apparently failed to foresee lawsuits brought by several states and the Federal Trade Commission. And shockingly, she may not actually be Jamaican.