The marketing appeal of cute

SpudsSo it’s not quite as urgent as the early Web sensation “Hot or Not,” but apparently the concept of “cute” is stirring up some interest. A recent story from The New York Times (picked up elsewhere) dissected the “cute” appeal of Tai Shan, the baby panda at the national zoo. While the story starts off discussing the appeal of pandas and babies in general, it soon hits on Madison Avenue’s efforts to capitalize on cute. “Advertisers and product designers are forever toying with cute cues to lend their merchandise instant appeal, monkeying with the vocabulary of cute to keep the message fresh and fetching,” the story reads. Apparently the appeal of cute is based on certain characteristics and behaviors, including forward-facing eyes, a big round face, floppy limbs and a waddling gait (à la those crazy marching penguins). Among some of the crazily ugly/cute examples: Cabbage Patch Kids, ET and Yoda. Sorry, Bud, there’s no mention of Spuds McKenzie, who seems to be the exception that proves the rule.

—Posted by Aaron Baar