Many companies created advertising characters as a means of guaranteeing product recognition by the buying public. Consumers are more apt to purchase an item with which they are familiar and advertising characters were a sure fire method of developing familiarity.
The early development of advertising characters also enabled immigrants who could not read to identify products by the colorful figures found on the packaging.
Trademarks and advertising characters are found on product labels, in magazines, as premiums, and on other types of advertising. Character subjects may be based on a real person such as Nancy Green, the original “Aunt Jemima.” However, more often than not, they are comical figures, often derived from popular contemporary cartoons. Other advertising characters were designed especially to promote a specific product, like Mr. Peanut and the Campbell Kids.
References: Patsy Clevenger, “The Collector’s World of M&M’s,” Schiffer Publishing, 1998; Pamela Duvall Curran and George W. Curran, “Collectible California Raisins,” Schiffer Publishing, 1998; Warren Dotz, “Advertising Character Collectibles,” Collector Books, 1993, 1997 value update; Joan Stryker Grubaugh, “A Collector’s Guide to the Gerber Baby,” published by author, 1996; Ted Hake, “Hake’s Guide to Advertising Collectibles,” Wallace-Homestead, Krause Publications, 1992; Mary Jane Lamphier, “Zany Characters of the Ad World,” Collector Books, 1995; Myra Yellin Outwater, “Advertising Dolls,” Schiffer Publishing, 1997; Robert Reed, “Bears & Dolls in Advertising,” Antique Trader Books, 1998; David and Micki Young, “Campbell’s Soup Collectibles from A to Z,” Krause Publications, 1998.
— Harry L. Rinker
“Official Price Guide to Collectibles”