Saturday, July 7, 2012

Now With 50% More Attitude!

This week the Chuck E. Cheese chain unveiled a new version of their eponymous mascot:
As you can see, this redesigned and improved version of Chuck E. Cheese is totally rad and gnarly to the max! He's got attitude to spare!

This mascot features everything I loathe about modern advertising. The hipster clothing, the in-your-face cockiness, the rock-god power chord stance... it's a perfect storm of absolute awfulness. 

Do kids really like this sort of thing? Do they honestly respond to these X-treme types of characters? I can't imagine that they do. Few kids I know have the resources to take up skyboarding or rock climbing, and the majority of them lack the patience necessary to learn to play a musical instrument.

No, I strongly suspect that so many mascots are cast from this same mold because this is what a boardroom full of 50 year old marketing executives thinks is kewl.

To be honest the Chuck E. Cheese mascot has never been very appealing to me. It's never a good idea for a restaurant to associate itself with rodents, but it takes real chutzpah to adopt one as the face of your company.

Besides the obvious vermin connection there's something very off-putting about the way the Chuck E. Cheese mascot has always been drawn. Somehow their marketing team pulled off the difficult feat of making their own logo look off-model. Every version of their mascot they've used over the years looks wrong somehow, as if drawn by someone unfamiliar with the basics of character design.

At least the previous mascots looked somewhat like cartoon mice, even if they weren't rendered very well. The old one at the top here is probably the best and least objectionable. This one is just beginning his "X-treme" metamorphosis. 

The current one ramps things up a notch or twelve by turning his cap backwards (rad!), donning board shorts (gnarly!) and inexplicably adding a pair of driving gloves (perplexing!). His face and proportions also become more subtly human as well. He's also drawn in that hideous over-rendered pseudo 3D animation style that I hate so much.

The new and improved version goes way overboard with the realism. No longer is this a simple cartoon mouse. This version looks all too real. That is the face of an actual mouse. Those are real mouse ears. Every strand of hair is realistically rendered on his fuzzy little face. He's even gained a hairless little tail! This version is no longer in the realm of fantasy; this is an honest-to-goodness real mouse. A mouse wearing clothes for sure, but a real mouse nonetheless. Who wants to look at such a thing while they're eating pizza?

There's also something somewhat sinister about the new version. Maybe it's the eyes and the way they seem to be leering at something just out of camera range.

I have to assume this new version was designed by the same marketing team that gave us Poochie on The Simpsons many years back, in an episode that was eerily prophetic.


  1. The really old (70s?) Chuck E. Cheese - at least in that pose - reminds me of W.C. Fields. "Get away, kid - you bother me!" If not that, then a sideshow huckster. Either way, not the image I think they'd want associated with a chain based on children's parties/dining. All the later versions have that weird - yes, off-model! - look. Like Chuck (or Chuck E.) has his snub nose pushed up against a pane of glass. And the half-lidded eyes always convey a sense of stupidity to me. And now, if his tail is hairless, doesn't that make him a rat and not a mouse? So why not add a sidekick - the cockroach you find in your pizza!

  2. Hey, the original one did look like a W.C. Fields type.

    The new rat design could inspire a whole slate of unappealing sidekicks. Vermy the Cockroach, Mr. Butts the talking cigarette butt, and Stubby, the severed human finger!

    We'd better quit before we both get sued.


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