Kellogg’s Frosted Flakes is having a tough week. First, New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady testily declared that the cereal was not “actually a food,” and now some subversive conceptual artists have co-opted the brand’s cartoon mascot, Tony The Tiger, in a fantastically dark series of commercial parodies. Viewers who passively sat through hours of commercials during their favorite cartoons, soaking up the advertisers’ various messages, will no doubt remember the iconic ads in which the friendly cartoon tiger showed up at just the right moment to give encouragement and pre-sweetened cereal to children who were experiencing pangs of self-doubt. Well, those children have apparently grown up to become deeply flawed, angst-ridden adults who have made a number of poor life choices. But good old Tony is still there to offer them a few kind words and, of course, a delicious balanced breakfast. Even the jingle remains the same: “So show ’em you’re a tiger / Show ’em what you can do / The taste of Tony’s Frosted Flakes / Brings out the tiger in you! And you!” Those words still apply in 2015, even if you’re a haggard streetwalker.
Or a sickeningly violent cop.
Or even a suicide bomber.
The impressively professional-looking “Tony Is Back” campaign has no official connection to Kellogg’s, in case anyone was wondering. The Tony Is Back site repeatedly mentioned in the videos is actually registered to Jani Leinonen, a Finnish artist who has repeatedly used corporate and advertising imagery in his work. His site actually includes a miniature manifesto about the political intentions of his art projects.
Leinonen has had enough of a world where, recycling Coke cans, giving a couple of euros for charity or buying a Fazer chocolate bar where 5 cents goes to third world starving children is enough to make us feel good. He has had enough of a world where real alternatives are impossible to imagine. Why is it so easy for us to imagine the end of the world, an asteroid destroying all life on earth, but we cannot imagine the end of capitalism?
For its part, Kellogg’s is attempting to shut down the campaign’s social media accounts. The homepage, which once promised a “new story every day,” currently says that the series is “suspended for now.” Fans of well-produced corporate satire may want to savor these hyper-accurate parodies while there is still time to do so.
[via Death And Taxes]