If you think CGI technology ruined Star Wars and that Jar Jar Binks is an abomination, then we have some bad news to report about the Kool-Aid man. And if you are the actual Kool-Aid man, then the news is even worse (sorry, brother, but you’re losing your job).
That’s right. The Kool-Aid man that generations of Americans came to know and love from commercials where he burst through walls and into our living rooms proclaiming “Oh Yeah!” is being replaced by a digital spokesperson, or spokespitcher. Since his inception in 1954 the Kool-Aid man has undergone makeovers to make him more appealing to more recent generations of kids, but for many of us this update is particularly disturbing.
The Kool-Aid man had become part of our childhood, like Twinkies and Captain Kangaroo. It was comforting to know that there was a person sitting on an airplane somewhere, or perhaps at the end of a dark bar, who when asked what he did for a living, answered, “I’m the Kool-Aid man.” With the computer animated Kool-Aid man, those days are over.
However, moms and dads will be happy that along with the rebrand—which features the updated slogan “Smile. It’s Kool-Aid”—Kraft is introducing a new sugar free drink mix in pocket-sized bottles. The brand is hoping to leverage the portability angle which has worked for its MiO product lines. And, yes, a Kool-Aid mobile app will debut at the beginning of the summer.
As PR professionals we recognize this is simply a business decision, but we can’t help being a little wistful about this development. Our industry is about people, and we don’t like to see real people—which the Kool-Aid man certainly was (you could tell by his walk)—being replaced by a bunch of code. If the Kool-Aid man can be replaced by a computer animated personality, then what exactly is the reality of our childhoods?
Did the Kool-Aid man ever exist at all?