Aunt Jemima, Mr. Clean, and the Gecko bring it on in Day 2 of the Big Shill bracket game

BIG-SHILL-02CA-B-C. Always Be Closing. Alec Baldwin’s cold-blooded Glengarry Glen Ross character would never be called in to rip these characters a new one. The GEICO Gecko? Kid can sell. Aunt Jemima? She’s been moving pancakes for over a century. They are the best of the best. That’s why this month, they’re included in EW’s Big Shill bracket game, which celebrates the country’s finest advertising icons — and pits them head-to-head in a battle for supremacy. In our first round, Auntie J draws Mrs. Butterworth in a showdown that promises to be sticky, while old-school Mr. Clean squares off with a new kid on the block, the Old Spice Guy. Meanwhile, Geoffrey the Giraffe gets his shot at the Anheuser-Busch clydesdales, and the princely Gecko might have to get his tidy toe pads dirty against Dig ‘Em the Frog. One of these green fellas is going home. But it’s up to you: Vote for which advertising icons reign supreme after the jump. (And review the competitors’ profiles below to help you make your selection.) It’s up to you, PopWatchers: Whose shilling gets top billing? Check out the entire bracket here to start formulating your long-range predictions.

BIG-SHILL-02BImage Credit: Budweiser Clydesdales: Scott Cunningham/Getty Images

Aunt Jemima breakfast mixes and syrups
Debut year: 1890
Catchphrase: “Nothing could be finer…”
Claim to fame: She’s the “First Lady of Pancakes.”
Strength: She adapts. In 120 years, she’s modernized her look that once resembled Hattie McDaniel to one more reminiscent of Alaina Reed-Hall in 227.
Despite several makeovers to make her more politically correct, the very name “Aunt Jemima” can still be a pejorative on par with “Uncle Tom.”

Mrs. Butterworth’s syrups and pancake mixes
Debut year: 1961
Catchphrase: “Mrs. Butterworth’s is twice as thick as the other syrups.”
Claim to fame: Mrs. Butterworth (first name: Joy) is just like your sweet old grandmother — that is, if granny was a talking syrup bottle that you kept locked in the cupboard and only spoke to when you ate pancakes.
Strength: When Mrs. Butterworth tells you that her syrup is thicker and richer, you believe her. She’s so Betty-White convincing that she could just as easily sell car insurance, which she did.
She seems a little insecure for an old lady. Why does she always have to compare her syrup to other peoples’? Thick and rich is good enough, Mrs. B.

Mr. Clean cleaning products
Debut year: 1957
Catchphrase: “Mr. Clean, Mr. Clean.” (He’s not much of a talker; more of a winker.)
Claim to fame: Bald and burly, with a dangling earring long before it was cool, Mr. Clean — whose first name is Veritably — never seems to get dirty despite his job fighting greasy dirt.
Strength: The man practically beams, so much so that some people mistake him for some kind of genie. Or a missing member of the Village People.
Weakness: How strong can he really be if he’s still afraid to come out of the closet?

Old Spice body wash
Debut year: 2010
Catchphrase: “Swan dive!”
Claim to fame:
The virile renaissance man (played by Isaiah Mustafa) is everything you or your man is not, but at least there is a chance of smelling as great as he does.
Strength: Where do we begin? He can bake a gourmet cake in the dream kitchen he built for you with his own two hands. Plus, he’s on a horse.
Weakness: Does he even know what a swan dive is? Because that’s not a swan dive.

Toys R Us
Debut year: 1960
Catchphrase: “I don’t want to grow up, I’m a Toys R Us Kid”
Claim to fame: A slightly awkward, spiritual distant cousin of Barney the Dinosaur, Geoffrey presides over most-every child’s favorite toy wonderland.
Strength? You mean outside of the fact that a close encounter with him means that every 7-year-old is just a tantrum away from a new toy?
Weakness: He’s much better behind-the-scenes. People like to know he’s running the shop, but put a microphone in front of him and all bets are off.

Debut year: 1933
Catchphrase: “Clip-clop, clip-clop, clippety-clop”
Claim to fame:
These majestic equines have been delivering beer for Anheuser-Busch since the end of prohibition, and their heart-warming commercials are must-sees during the winter holidays and the Super Bowl.
If the clydesdales weren’t already an American treasure, their post 9/11 ad put them on a sacred pedestal right next to apple pie and baseball.
Weakness: These blue-bloods can make Santa’s reindeer seem inclusive.

Product: Honey Smacks (formerly Sugar Smacks)
Debut year: 1972
Catchphrase: “You’ll dig ‘em!”
Claim to fame: Cap-wearing, pun-wielding frog who was so cool, he brainwashed kids into associating frogs with tasty. Doc Hopper went after the wrong frog.
Strength: Dig ‘Em successfully cozied up to the kids by making adults seem like dolts.
Weakness: At one point, his cereal was simply called Smacks, underscoring a subtle drug-pusher vibe Dig ‘Em had going.

Debut year: 1999
Catchphrase: Can an accent be a catchphrase?
Claim to fame: The tiny green bloke is a vehicular insurance savant obsessed with saving customer’s money.
Strength: Don’t be misled by his cuteness — the Gecko is no one’s clown. He’ll steamroll you with facts, and you’ll thank him for it.
Weakness: No one likes a know-it-all. Also, lacks eyelids.

Comments (26 total) Add your comment
  • UGH

    The Gecko and the Old Spice guy have go to be the most annoying of the bunch.

    • jessica

      the gecko is annoying, but i liked it best when mrs. butterworth was on the geico commercials, which is why i voted for her against aunt jemima!

  • Joe

    Between yesterday’s polls and today’s polls (with the exception of AJ vs Butterworth), shouldn’t this tournament be described as pre-90s advertising icons vs advertising icons of the past 20 years? Gee… in an internet poll, I wonder which set will be better represented when the results are final?

    • Plico

      Not true. Geoffery and clydesdales are both old ads.

      • Joe

        True, but which has been featured more prominently in the past 20 years… the Clydesdales, whose ads run during the Super Bowl, or Geoffrey the Giraffe (when was the last time you saw him featured prominently on TV?)?

    • Mike

      Yea — all the recent stuff is gonna win everything. This is silly. The next rounds will be interesting at least when the newer ones all face each other.

  • Karate Pants

    Protesting due to the absence of Mayhem.
    I can’t believe you’ve got forgettable characters like the Little Caesar’s cartoon or the annoying Free Credit Report dork (just try and pick him out of a crowd), or regional ad icons like Mr. Six or the Empire Carpet guy, but NOT MAYHEM. Boooo! Mayhem should have been pitted (ha) against the Old Spice guy.
    My huge crush on Mayhem (when he crashes the car and smiles, I get shivers) *might* be clouding my perception a little…but I know I’m not alone in thinking he deserves to be here.

    • Jen40

      If you want to see “Mayhem” (Dean Winters) in all his glory then you need to check out the old HBO series OZ.

      • Nikki

        Or Season 1 episodes of Law & Order SVU.

      • justjack

        AND he was Carrie’s f**k buddy on an episode of Sex and the City.

  • EPK

    According to the full Bracket, Miss Chiquita Banana will be facing off in the first round against BOTH the Progressive Girl and the Coppertone Girl… seems like someone at EW is a big fan of the Chiquita banana!!!

  • The Banana Hat

    Who isn’t?

  • Jennifer

    I just checked out the full bracket – The Burger King and Grimace but no RONALD MCDONALD? Really?

    • Traci

      They did a early poll where they asked for people to vote for their favorite McDonald’s character. I guess Grimace beat Ronald. They did the same thing with other companies that had multiple spokesmen over the years.

      • Peter

        Grimace beat Hamburglar? I find that hard to believe.

    • Ishwar

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  • saywhat

    Aunt Jemima v/s Mrs. Butterworth … that is like the chicken or the egg … you can’t have one without the other …

  • banana

    this is fun

  • Missi

    The syrup vote is hard. Aunt Jemima is hands down the world’s most delicious syrup, but Mrs. Butterworth — who could resist that voice? If she had a lap, I’d want to curl up on it and have her tell me a story.

  • Fan

    Just checked the bracket and I am glad to see some love for Mr. Whipple and the Dunkin’ Donuts guy, although it will be hard to choose who to vote for.

  • Sarah El

    How dare you pit Mr. Clean against Old Spice Guy? They’re both too awesome!

    • Heather P

      Yeah, I had a hard time with that one. The clydesdales and Geoffrey the girrafe was no contest. Especially after watching the 9/11 tribute. Even today I can’t watch it without tearing up.

  • Steve

    Where is the Noid from nasty greasy Domino’s pizza? Or the Kool Aid Pitcher? Or the Alka Seltzer Kid? Okay, I don’t remember the last one except in videos, but still an Icon!

    • Heather P

      They were in the first day of voting.

  • caryn

    I love that little Gecko. I know it’s stupid to choose an insurance company based on a fake lizard but it would take quite a bit of savings to get me to switch from Geico.

  • Tom in STL

    Pitting Aunt Jemima against Mrs. Butterworth in the first round is just cruel (although I understand the obvious connection). And why is the Old Spice Guy beating Mr. Clean? He is too recent to have earned a place on this list!

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