The influence of the Pillsbury Dough Boy

Posted 3/14/23

When driving to work this morning, I noticed that all of the cars in a used car lot sported American Flags waving in the wind.  After my attention was drawn by the flags, a cute, orange …

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The influence of the Pillsbury Dough Boy


When driving to work this morning, I noticed that all of the cars in a used car lot sported American Flags waving in the wind.  After my attention was drawn by the flags, a cute, orange Volkswagen caught my eye.  Had the flags not been waving, I would have never seen the car that I want to by.  The coincidence of this got me thinking about what other methods are employed to promote things. 

There are many different types of flags to draw my attention, including the ones stuck in the ground that look like a sail from a sailboat, and those tall, inflatable tube men that dance and wave from above. These are designed to catch our attention and draw our eyes off the road on which we are driving to the wonders of a particular establishment.

Advertisers use countless tricks of the trade to get us to purchase what they have to sell, including the use of a popular actor or athlete with charismatic appeal, (think Taylor Swift with Coke, George Foreman and the Foreman Grill, and George Clooney with Nespresso.)  When these people endorse a product, I, as a consumer, may be convinced of the quality of the product and purchase it. (Yes, I buy Coke products, drink Nespresso and have a George Forman Grill.)

Only beautiful people star in commercials, people who are so pleasing to the eye that they catch my attention.  Yes, I want to have long, silky, flowing hair, but no matter how often I purchase Pantene my hair is still lifeless and sticks to my head. 

Many products have characters with which they are identified, such as Tony the Tiger for Frosted Flakes, Ronald McDonald for McDonalds, the Jolly Green Giant for vegetables, and, my favorite, the Pillsbury Dough Boy.  When I see the Pillsbury Dough Boy bouncing around, my mouth waters for “poppin fresh” rolls. I can identify with him because he doesn’t purport to be good looking but is comfortable in his plumpness, just like me!

 Food advertisements are particularly misleading. It is disconcerting to see a juicy picture of a bacon cheeseburger on a menu, complete with oozing melted cheese, crispy lettuce, and bright red tomatoes, only to order one and find it to have no resemblance to the tasty creation pictured.  Inevitably, the bun is dry, the hamburger is tough and tastes like rubber, there is only a tiny shred of lettuce, and the tomato is mushy. What happened to that mouthwatering burger?

I have learned that there are many advertising tricks when photographing food.  That delicious looking bowl of cereal in milk is really cereal in white glue because if milk were used, the cereal would become mushy and sink to the bottom of the bowl, not at all a photographic success.  Similarly, that appetizing stack of pancakes is drizzled in yummy maple syrup, except it is not.  Real syrup would soak into the pancakes and make them soggy and unpresentable, so motor oil is used as a replacement. To get a photo of a fizzy glass of soda, an antacid tablet is used to make the bubbles appear, and this method can be used over and over during the day of a long photo shoot. For a photo of that luscious sundae, mashed potatoes hued brightly with food coloring are shaped into scoops of ice cream, and shaving cream is used for the whipped cream. The cherry is real, but sprayed with shiny hairspray to make it shine, a technique used with other fruits and vegetables to make them look fresh and glossy. Strawberries may be also painted with red nail polish to enhance their rosy color. That delicious looking glass of beer in commercials sports dish soap whipped up into a lather to simulate the foam at the top of the glass.  To maximize the appearance of sesame seed buns, someone using tweezers strategically places individual sesame seeds on the enhanced by shoe polish buns. Those enticing glasses of red or white wine are glasses of water with a few drops of food coloring to create a realistic shade. 

Yes, my naïve heart is influenced by handsome George Clooney, a beautiful woman with gorgeous flowing, silky hair, and my “friend” the Pillsbury Dough Boy. Even Ronald McDonald calls to me to swing in for hot fries and a Diet Coke. With so many different techniques to entice buyers into buying, I wonder if free choice actually exists.


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