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M&Ms voted top ad character
The candies that "melt in your mouth, not in your hands" are No. 1 slogan, too.
September 20, 2004: 3:49 PM EDT

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NEW YORK (CNN/Money) - In the end, a motley crew of playful chocolate candies beat out a jolly tiger named Tony and a hyperkinetic bunny to take top honors as the advertising icon consumers love most.

The M&Ms characters were voted the No. 1 icon in a nationwide on-line poll whose results were announced Monday as part of the official kickoff to "Advertising Week" in New York City.

The poll, sponsored by Yahoo! and USA Today, was held from early August through the end of last week. Nearly 700,000 votes were cast.

Taking second place was the AFLAC Duck, the squawking bird that's been pitching insurance products since 2000.

Planters' Mr. Peanut was third, followed by the Pillsbury Doughboy and Tony the Tiger, the symbol of Kellogg's Frosted Flakes.

Among the 21 contenders that didn't finish in the top 5 were Charlie the Tuna, the Energizer Bunny, Mr. Clean, the Coppertone Girl, and Ronald McDonald.

Each of the top 5 will now be immortalized in bronze plaques on Madison Avenue, the tony New York artery that is considered the heart of the U.S. advertising industry.

Sounds catchy...

And when it comes to the top ad slogans? Once again, those round, bite-sized morsels of chocolate made by Mars and known to "melt in your mouth, not in your hands" took top honors.

Other top finishers were:

  • Almond Joy & Mounds candy bars' "Sometimes you feel like a nut, sometimes you don't"
  • "Where's the beef?" from Wendy's
  • "A mind is a terrible thing to waste," from the United Negro College Fund
  • Verizon's "Can you hear me now?"

In all, voters had 26 slogans from which to choose. Examples of tag lines that did not make the top five included Nike's "Just do it"; "Be all you can be" from the U.S. Army; "It takes a lickin', but it keeps on tickin'" from Timex; and United Airlines' "Fly the friendly skies."

Which of these is your favorite ad character?
  AFLAC duck
  M&M candies
  Mr. Peanut
  Pillsbury Doughboy
  Tony the Tiger

   View results

Also earning bragging rights were the agencies behind the winning ad campaigns.

Ted Bates & Co., Leo Burnett and Dancer Fitzgerald Sample, for instance, each had two victories. Ted Bates created the M&M characters and their triumphant tag. Leo Burnett masterminded the marshmallow-white, giggling blob of pre-cooked bread known as the Pillsbury Doughboy as well as Kellogg's orange-and-black striped tiger, Tony.

And remember "Where's the beef?" the Wendy's hamburger pitch that took on a life of its own after first uttered in 1984 by an unknown elderly woman named Clara Pellar? Dancer Fitzgerald was the agency behind that campaign and also the Mounds' candy bar pitch.

The results, at least in the icon category, reflect the extent to which marketers have in recent years abandoned icons in favor of celebrity endorsements. The AFLAC duck aside, most of the winners and losers have been around for decades.

Mr. Peanut, for instance, has been hawking Planters peanuts for almost 100 years. Pillsbury's Doughboy made his TV debut in 1965. And Tony the Tiger has been roaring "They're gr-r-r-eat!" for more than four decades.

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Like many contests, the makeup of the contestant pool is open to some debate. Mrs. Butterworth, Jack in the Box, and Bob -- the cherubic face of Bob's Big Boy -- were among the potential contenders left off the ballot.  Top of page

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