Fans of Americana and pop culture are in for a treat when they get this book. In this admittedly small (but almost an inch thick) book there are five hundred+ ad characters (actually more like seven hundred if multiples are included). Divided into eight chapters, Food, Drinks, Kids' stuff, Dining, Technology, Autos, Home and finally Personal and Leisure, they are all in color, captioned and dated. All the well-known characters are included but also many who had a regional existence, like Mr Clean-Up, the 1946 St. Louis Chamber of Commerce antilitter campaigner, or Waddle's Duckling, a 1959 icon from the Portland, Oregon restaurant.
Warren Dotz writes a short intro and explains how companies realised that these characters would bring huge concerns down to human scale, especially if they became half human and half product and always with that smiling face. A useful companion book is 'What a Character', also by the author and it shows many 'Mr Product' icons as three-dimensional figurines, thus reinforcing customer brand loyalty further.
Visually the book is a delight to look at, thanks to the design by the author and Masud Husain. Handling this kind of material is a challenge because of all the different shapes and colors but here many of the characters are whole page or four to a page and a nice touch is to show them in the context of an ad, brochure cover or a packet front. I don't think the book could look any better.
BTW: I think the paper could have been just a bit thinner for ease of handling and an index would have been useful. Oh, and I was disappointed that Mad magazine wraparound cover painting (by Norman Mingo) of issue thirty-five (October 1957) was not reproduced somewhere, it was most likely the only time that dozens of copyright ad characters where used on a magazine cover.
***FOR AN INSIDE LOOK click 'customer images' under the cover.