SORRY, JOLLY: THE MEDIA LOVE BETTY; SPINDEX SPECIAL: ELSIE LAGS THE PACK AS A PARADE OF AD ICONS ARE RELAUNCHED

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He may be a giant among vegetables, but when it comes to commanding the attention of the top U.S. news organizations, the Jolly Green Giant's stature apparently is not the biggest among an unprecedented relaunch of classic advertising icons.

He may be the world's best-known toilet paper-squeezing fetishist, but the return of Charmin's Mr. Whipple has turned out to be a paper tiger among newspaper and magazine editors and TV news producers.

And, as for the re-introduction of Star-Kist's veteran spokes-albacore, all we can say, is: "Sorry Charlie," but you're also an also-ran.

Actually, the return of all of these classic ad characters has attracted noteworthy attention among the news-media elite, but the best recipe for generating hype this year comes from the relaunch of Betty Crocker, one of the oldest and most endearing icons ever to grace Madison Avenue.

According to a special SPINdex analysis conducted by Medialink Research, Betty has generated 71 print and electronic media stories so far this year among the influential media outlets.

Though the largely print- and package-based icon garnered only one network TV news story from the SPINdex sample, the General Mills' icon was particularly popular with newspaper editors (who devoted 45 stories), wire services (18 stories) and trade publications (seven stories), generating a total of 58,606 words of copy this year.

BIG GUY IS NO. 2

By comparison, the second-most successful ad returnee, Pillsbury Co.'s Jolly Green Giant, found a place in only 48 news stories accounting for 43,658 words of copy. However, based on Medialink's weighting of the prominence of each character in media news coverage, the Giant's index of 345 was almost half that of Betty's 623.

The return of paper-mangling Mr. Whipple for Procter & Gamble Co. also did well with the paper-based media, generating 23 newspaper, three trade and one news magazine story -- but not TV exposure -- for a SPINdex of 294. That's just enough to take the bait away from Star-Kist Foods' Charlie, who ranked fourth in this special year-to-date edition of SPINdex with a score of 236.

Mars Inc.'s Uncle Ben rounded out the top five with a score of 204.

STILL LONELY

The reintroduction of other classic icons so far has failed to capture much media attention. The Maytag Repairman lived up to his reputation for being the loneliest guy in town, attracting only six stories in the SPINdex sample, for a score of 52.

And the return from pasture of Borden's Elsie the Cow has yet to milk the media for much worth, yielding only five stories and a SPINdex of 43.

But, given the strong spin surrounding some of these campaign renewals, will Quaker Oats Co.'s Life cereal fans begin clamoring, "Where's Mikey?" and will the makers of Mr. Coffee bellow, "Where have you gone, Joe DiMaggio?"

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