Four More Not-So-Real Brand Trademark Characters

Many brand images such as the Geico Gecko and Lacoste’s Crocodile Mascot are clearly made up characters. In fact, you can follow the link to learn about five not-so-real brand trademark characters. But, did you know these four charming brand trademark characters aren’t named after real people either?

Mr. Clean

Mr. Clean, the famous cleaning genie, was invented to help Procter & Gamble’s popular household cleaning product. The character was portrayed as a bald muscular man in order to convey the image of a “genie in a bottle” that “cleaned like magic.”

Over the years, he has taken on a variety of roles such as the police officer, “Grimefighter Mr. Clean,” and “Sunshine Fresh Mr. Clean” to represent a new and improved scents.

Unfortunately, the original actor who portrayed the face and body of Mr. Clean in commercials and advertising, House Peters Jr., died in 2008. However, his animated counterpart continues to thrive.

Tommy Bahama

Despite the legend that Tommy Bahama, a symbol of idyllic lifestyle clothing, once, “caught a 200-pound yellowfin using only a coconut shell, some broken sunglasses, and the drawstring from his swim trunks,” he is just a made-up guy with a made-up history.

The Tommy Bahama company created the character to personify the relaxing and carefree lifestyle its clothes are meant to inspire. Today, Tommy Bahama expands his sphere of lifestyle influence through Tommy Bahama restaurants, bars, and even a brand of rum!

Slip into this casual attire and immediately “live the life” of the fictitious, yet worldly and cool character, Tommy Bahama.

Uncle Ben

Uncle Ben isn’t really anyone’s uncle! According to the brand owner, Mars, Inc., Uncle Ben was inspired by a Texan rice farmer known for growing rice with a particular standard of excellence.

In the 1940s, converted rice aficionado Gordon Harwell marketed a special rice recipe to the U.S. military. Given its success, he decided to introduce the recipe to the American public and set out to build a new brand. He thought that a then-beloved rice farmer, oft referred to as Uncle Ben, would be a perfect image to personify his new product.

Frank Brown, a Chicago chef and waiter, posed for the portrait because the real Uncle Ben had passed away. Harwell used the face of “Uncle Ben” to launch his product, and the consumer response was overwhelmingly fantastic. Just a few years later, the Uncle Ben rice brand became the “number one packaged long grain rice” sold in the United States. The company continues to use the character as part of its brand to this day.

Mavis Beacon

Mavis Beacon, arguably one of the world’s best typing teachers, is not a real person. Though the image of Mavis Beacon has been gracing software covers since the late 1980s, she is purely the creation of a clever marketing department.

Her first name comes from Mavis Staples, the lead vocalist of one of the creator’s favorite bands. Her last name, Beacon, appropriately titles her as a device that helps guide navigators to a destination. In Mavis Beacon’s case, she is leading her students to typing success.

According to Michael E. Duffy, one of the programmers of the typing software, the creators chose a retired Caribbean-born fashion model named Renee Lesperance to portray Mavis Beacon in order to give the name the image of a woman with “warmth and compassion coupled with confidence.” Her compassion and niche for navigation has led avid learners to success for the last 30 years.

What are some of your favorite brand trademark characters—real or fictitious?

The Mavis Beacon image was sourced from Broderbund.com and is used for educational purposes only.