Taking a breather before the awards presentation, icons ranging from the Cheester the Cheeto's Cheetah to Twinkie the Kid were schmoozing amongst themselves without heads and other key costume parts in between sips of much-needed water.
'The biggest thing I do'
A headless AOL Running Man, who refused to divulge his real name to Ad Age, said the parade was the highlight of his full-time gig as a buddy icon. "Everywhere I go, it's, 'Hey it's the IM guy,'" he said. "This is just the biggest thing I do."
But when it came time for awards, The Running Man was no match for Col. Sanders. The face of Kentucky Fried Chicken (aka Col. John Baxley of Anniston, Ala.) was named the Best Advertising Icon in Advertising Week's national poll, with the Kool-Aid Man taking second place. More than 750,000 voters participated in this year's survey, said Murray Gaylord, VP-brand marketing at Yahoo.
In the Best Slogan category, the Texas Department of Travel took home first prize by an overwhelming majority for "Don't Mess With Texas" (after an exhaustive round of lobbying by Austin-based GSD&M). In second place was FedEx, for its immortal "When it absolutely, positively has to be here overnight."
The Icon Parade was also accompanied by a progress report on the forthcoming Advertising Icon Museum in Kansas City. The status update was given by Howard Boasberg, executive director of the museum. Five floors of the 10-story building have already been constructed, with plans to accommodate 1,000 icons from ad campaigns over the last century.
"It's a fabulous way of bringing attention to the importance of icons and branding the product," said Mr. Boasberg. "It was great to see faces of all kinds today from all over the world waving and recognizing these icons. It's the international angle of awareness that's so important."
That global recognition registered with Lisa Holland, a tourist from Ireland who happened to be in Times Square for the parade with her friend, Theresa Hession. She was most excited to see the M&M's. "It's because she can't stop eating them," said Ms. Hession.