Posted by: amoru22r | November 29, 2020

Cadbury’s Cocoa and Tony the Tiger

This Cadbury’s Cocoa ad from 1888 depicts the Burnsville FC Rugby Club, an all-male sports team engaging in some kind of wrestling and advertises that the cocoa “SUSTAINS AGAINST FATIGUE, INCREASES MUSCULAR STRENGTH, GIVES PHYSICAL ENDURANCE AND STAYING POWER.” As we discussed in class, this ad exemplifies how Victorian advertising became gendered and how ads were geared specifically and separately towards either men or women. This male-oriented ad reminded me of Frosted Flakes and its mascot Tony the Tiger. Frosted Flakes ads have a lengthy past of being directed towards boys and certain ideals of masculinity.

The picture above is a 1959 ad for Frosted Flakes which promotes “PUT A TIGER ON YOUR TEAM.” I was also able to find a commercial from 1959 with this slogan, in which Tony pitches for a boy’s baseball team. One boy strikes out until he is handed a bowl of frosted flakes by Tony, who says, “we’ll put a tiger on your team!” The boy’s next hit knocks Tony out of the park. Tony’s character becomes a male, mentoring figure for boys who play sports. Frosted Flakes becomes the cereal that turns you from a mere boy into an athletic “tiger.” 

Later, in 1978, we see Tony as a Hollywood celebrity after starring in all of these Frosted Flakes advertisements. This commercial depicts Tony surrounded by female fans, who swoon over him and beg him to say his famous slogan, “they’re grrreat!” Additionally, it seems like this commercial could have been more explicitly hinting at Tony’s sexual prowess. One of the women exclaims that she loves Frosted Flakes, and Tony replies “all my fans love the delicious taste of my frosting!” Maybe I’m reading too much into that, but here we are. The ad ends with Tony receiving a call from his wife. He tells the women, “probably my agent or director,” but it’s his wife on the line. Tony snaps back into domesticity, promising he’ll be home soon and starting to take down the grocery list while the women laugh around him. This ad paints Tony as a sexualized, famous actor who keeps up a suave persona around his adoring female fans while he also has a wife at home. In 1978, Tony becomes further masculinized and appeals to male viewers as the ideal man with a breakfast cereal that attracts women. 

In 2020, Tony is still a very masculine character. In this “Mission Tiger” commercial with Shaquille O’Neal, Tony and Shaq banter over who could dunk the other and who has the deeper voice. Tony is still the epitome of society’s view of a “real” man and he conveys this specific kind of masculinity to the boys who watch him. 

However, since the Frosted Flakes advertisement from 1959, Kelloggs’ commercials have become more inclusive. The ads and Tony himself are still very sports oriented, but now they include female athletes and sports teams in their commercials and in their audience. In this 2019 ad “Bring Out The Tigers” Tony coaches and motivates boys and girls. Frosted Flakes’ Mission Tiger seeks to stop schools from cutting sports funding and this ad clarifies that this campaign values protecting all kinds of athletes. 

Works Cited

“Frosted Flakes ‘Bring Out The Tigers.’” Youtube, uploaded by Frosted Flakes, 5 Aug. 2019, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ih-0NbZLON0

Kellogg’s advertisement. “Put a Tiger on Your Team.” Pinterest, Accessed 29 Nov. 2020, https://www.pinterest.com/pin/430938258095206317/

“Kellogg’s Frosted Flakes | Mission Tiger “Tit-for-Tat” :15.” Youtube, uploaded by Frosted Flakes, 6 July 2020, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9pOos2OAskg

“1959 FROSTED FLAKES COMMERCIAL – Tony the Tiger – Baseball.” Youtube, uploaded by Saturday’s World, 11 April 2018, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t0zlDv3jcyQ

“1978 Frosted Flakes Commercial.” Youtube, uploaded by American Throwback, 21 Sept. 2012, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=skr-R4Hb5UM

“The Power of Gendered Advertising & Marketing in Chocolate Sales.” Chocolate Class, 10 March 2016, https://chocolateclass.wordpress.com/tag/cocoamakesstrongmenstronger/.


Responses

  1. This post is deeply deeply funny to me, although at the same time I can’t help but appreciate and love your analysis! I think it’s so interesting how the depiction of Tony’s masculinity has not only changed over time, but has seemingly been shaped by what is deemed the most accepted or most desirable masculine qualities of the era each ad is from… wondering if maybe the 50s ad is connected to fatherhood and the nuclear family with regards to Tony as a mentoring figure?


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