The Advertising Century

The Pillsbury Doughboy

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PRODUCT: Assorted Pillsbury foods, including refrigerated dough, bakery mixes and rolls
CREATOR: Leo Burnett Co.

Burnett creative director Rudy Perz was sitting at his kitchen table in the mid-1960s when he dreamed up the idea of a plump, dough figure that would pop out of a tube of refrigerated rolls. Since then, Pillsbury has used Poppin' Fresh in more than 600 commercials for more than 50 of its products.

Although Perz had originally conceived His Doughness as an animated character, he changed his mind after seeing a stop-action tilting technique used in the opening credits for "The Dinah Shore Show."

The decision was made to create a 3-D Doughboy doll of clay at a cost that seemed like a small fortune 34 years ago -- $16,000.

Finding the right performer to be the voice of the Doughboy was the finishing touch. After auditioning more than 50 top actors, the role was awarded to Paul Frees (the voice of "The Adventures of Bullwinkle and Rocky's" Boris Badenov). After Frees' death in 1986, Jeff Bergman, who also did the voiceover for Charlie the Tuna, took over. Today, the high-pitched giggles are handled by JoBe Cerny, the mustachioed on-camera star of Burnett's Cheer detergent campaign.

The Doughboy was an instant success with consumers. His round body and signature belly poke quickly endeared him to adults and children. When Pillsbury issued a Doughboy doll, the toy became so popular, Playthings Magazine named it "Toy of the Year" in 1972.

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