The Advertising Century

The Green Giant

Published on .

PRODUCT: Green Giant vegetables
CREATOR: Minnesota Valley Canning Co.

The Green Giant's national ad debut in 1928 was disappointing.

Minnesota Valley Canning Co. developed the Giant as a product trademark, but in his earliest days he was stooped and scowling, wore a scruffy bearskin and looked more like the Incredible Hulk than the grand old gardener he is today.

Enter ad agency Erwin, Wasey & Co. The assignment for the

Giant's transformation was tackled by none other than young Leo Burnett, who improved the Giant's hunched posture, turned his scary scowl into a sunny smile and clothed him in a light, leafy outfit.

He also gave the tender tall guy a new backdrop -- a valley of crops that highlight the Giant's height.

When Mr. Burnett opened his own agency in 1935, Minnesota Valley was one of its first clients. The Burnett agency soon added the word "Jolly" to the giant's name, and by 1950, Minnesota Valley changed its name to Green Giant Co.

The Giant's early TV appearances, in 1958, however, were not as stellar. Bob Noel, a writer at Burnett, once made these comments about the Giant's early TV appearances: "They tried men painted green," a puppet figure and animation. The problem is "when you try to move the Giant around and really show what he looks like, he comes off a monster. The baby cries and the dog goes under the bed."

Mr. Noel devised an ingenious solution: ads that showed just enough of the Giant to establish his presence but not too much to send customers running for cover. The problems that arose ultimately brought the creative staff to a new understanding about the big guy. The Giant was most effective either in silhouette or partial view. To lighten up the Giant's image, Mr. Noel dreamed up his signature "Ho, ho, ho" and lilting "Good things from the garden" song.

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