Leo Burnett and the Sugar Frosted Flakes “critters”
When Leo Burnett’s ad agency began creating a menagerie of product mascots, some started calling it “the critter agency.” And yet, of all the “critters” that the agency launched, Tony the Tiger probably stands apart. (First on four legs, and then just two.)
Originally called “Tony the talking tiger,” Tony was by no means the only critter developed for Sugar Frosted Flakes. The company also developed at least five other animal characters.
Some have written that Tony the Tiger was created by children book illustrators, Alice and Martin Provensen (on right). And some have written that Martin Provensen single-handedly created him.
Tony first appeared in 1952, but even the Provensens’ daughter is not sure if he was created solely by her father or as a joint effort between both of her parents.
Alice Provensen, Caldecott Medal-winning illustrator of children’s books, dies at 99
Matt Schudel, The Washington Post, May 2, 2018
Former ad men at Burnett, however, tell an entirely different tale.
We don’t mean to re-litigate any of that. We’ll just acknowledge that the tiger character’s name, concept and some preliminary artwork were already in place before Provensen(s) ever got involved. And that one or more Provensens created the final, finished illustrations.
What’s undeniable, however, is that Alice and Martin Provensen did make a number of animal character illustrations for the Kellogg Company.
Supposedly Kellogg’s goal was to have a character for every letter of the alphabet, but only Tony and Katie [sic] ever made it onto the box.
David Hoffman, The Breakfast Cereal Gourmet, 2009
The Kellogg’s (Provensen) Zoo
Some claim that Kellogg’s held a contest, letting consumers pick the mascot. Kellogg’s Australian website actually says so, but I can find no evidence to support this. The company did create a split run of packaging: some with Tony the Tiger, some with Katy the Kangaroo. And both of those characters appear in some television commercials. But the Provensens also made illustrations of 5 other Sugar Frosted Flakes animals.
Including: Newt the Gnu, Elmo the Elephant, George the Giraffe, Zeke the Zebra and Pete the Porcupine.
If you hunt around the Internet, you’ll probably find the odd picture of Tony’s old friend, Katy the Kangaroo. But what ever became of all the other Provensen critters from that early “Kellogg’s Zoo” is a mystery. They seem to have… disappeared.
Leif Peng, The Provensens & Tony the Tiger, Today’s Inspiration, 2009
We’ve done some hunting around the internet and have rounded up these missing Provensen critters… [Read more…]