Ad Space – Evolution of a Sugar Bear

You are now entering Ad Space, a realm of commercials, brought before us so we might examine how they work, and discuss why we both love and hate them so. So it is written …

The Product:
Sugar Crisp cereal

The Promotions:

The Pitch:
With the power of Sugar Crisp, there is redemption for even the most remorseless of criminals, like Sugar Bear.

Hey all, you may have noticed that there wasn’t a new Ad Space last Monday. Unfortunately, due to a sudden catastrophe beyond anyone’s ability to foresee or control (namely, I overslept) I couldn’t get one up on time. To make up for that, this week we won’t be looking at just one commercial, but a whole compilation of them, charting the evolution of Sugar Crisp cereal’s Bing-Crosby-imitating mascot, Sugar Bear.

Ignoring that one from the fifties with the three uncanny valley bears coming out of the TV set, we begin with Sugar Bear firmly in the classic mode for cereal mascots: going to any lengths to steal the cereal from someone else. It’s just that, for Sugar Bear, “any lengths” still means “barely trying at all”. Rather than coming up with wacky schemes and traps ala the Trix Rabbit or Barney Rubble, Sugar Bear just strolls in, never breaking stride, never hurrying himself, and acquires the cereal with contemptuous ease. Even though the cereal’s rightful owner wields actual magic to defend herself, Sugar Bear brushes aside those obstacles with an air of, “Come on, now, I sound like Bing Crosby; I’m far too cool to be bothered by anything like that.”

But that setup didn’t last long. Perhaps someone at Post Cereal realized that, when your mascot isn’t a scrappy underdog but instead an all-powerful overdog, and they repeatedly invade the homes and steal the food of kindly old ladies … that can make them come off kinda bad.

So in the next cycle of commercials, we begin with Sugar Bear already having the cereal, no need to steal it. And to move him from “not larcenous” to “actively heroic”, they have him use his Bing Crosby powers to beat up a crude and uncouth bad guy named Blob. They even make Sugar Bear an eco-conscious mascot for a bit, trying to teach kids the importance of good environmental practices/get approval from parents by associating themselves with good environmental practices.

Then things take another shift, and Sugar Bear is now not merely a heroic bear who happens to eat Sugar Crisp cereal, but the producer and distributor of Sugar Crisp, giving it to all the hungry children who need it … and protecting it from thieves like Sugar Fox or Marvin the Mouth. Yes, despite beginning as a cereal thief himself, Sugar Bear is now an official representative of Sugar Crisp doing battle with the next generation of cereal thieves.

Given this shift in Sugar Bear coincided with the shift from the 60’s to the 70’s, I wonder if there were any disappointed flower children going, “You sold out, Sugar Bear! You used to stick it to the Man!* (*by “Man” we mean ‘Granny Goodwitch’). Now you’re working for the Establishment, maaaaaaaan!”

P.S. You may recognize one of these ads from a Night Thread posted by ScratStitch just a couple weeks ago. I’d been planning this Ad Space for a while, so this timing is either just a coincidence, or the Avocado Hive Mind Project has finally begun to kick in! We can only hope.