Wednesday, 8 December 2010

Now, a Word from Our Secret Sponsor

Hanna-Barbera and Kellogg’s had a relationship you couldn’t miss. Yogi, Snagglepuss, Quick Draw adorned cereal boxes. Jinks and the Meeces pushed Raisin Bran. The Kellogg’s rooster was the centre-piece of the opening of the Huckleberry Hound Show then handed off to Huck by knocking on a dressing room door. And, during the closing, Huck’s jalopy picked up virtually all of the cereal maker’s characters as announcer Art Gilmour reminded us who picked up the tab for the cartoons.

Of course, that was really before and after all the action. Kellogg’s didn’t worm its way into the plots of those loveable seven-minute cartoons, did it?

Well, actually...

Kellogg’s didn’t only make food for kids and adults. It made food for dogs, too. One of its products, created in 1938, was Gro-Pup Dog Food. And in 1953, it developed Gro-Pup T-Bone Form Protective Dog Biscuits.

Right. Dog biscuits. And you know who loved those.

Snuffles was featured in eight H-B cartoons, starting with Quick Draw McGraw’s ‘Bow-Wow Bandit’ in 1959. In that one, Snuffles didn’t have a name, and neither did his orgasmic dog biscuits, but they had the unmistakeable ‘y’ shape of Gro-Pup.

It was no coincidence. Joe Barbera explained in 1960:

“...we have a new dog called Snuffles who eats a powerful kind of dog biscuit. ... Well, the sponsors like Snuffles. He’ll decorate their packages and help sell their product. So we have to write three new Snuffles stories.

The new stories contained a little more obvious tie-in with the sponsor. In ‘Bronco Bustin’ Boobs’ (1960), the name appears right on the screen.

And that wasn’t enough. The actual box was replicated in ‘Dynamite Fright’, ‘Mine Your Manners’ and in Snuffles’ last appearance in the Snagglepuss cartoon ‘Tail Wag Snag’ (all 1961). Incidentally, the last cartoon was animated by Allen Wilzbach, who had no problem with the box but he has one scene of a Snuffles that is tall and stretched like he’s an oversized dachshund.

One can imagine the reaction of Ed Benedict if he got the assignment of doing a model sheet for the Gro-Pup box.

Ah, but Gro-Pup wasn’t restricted to Snuffles alone. It makes an appearance in ‘Nuts Over Mutts’ as Huck uses it to lure a snickering dog.

Kellogg’s, of course, was heavily into TV advertising back then, and Snuffles appeared in at least one Gro-Pup spot. This must be part of an ad, since it only runs about 20 seconds. Hal Smith is the doctor, Daws Butler is, as usual, Snuffles.

While Snuffles surreptitiously sold dog food in cartoons, one thing he apparently didn’t do was “decorate their packages.” For some reason, Kellogg’s or the Leo Burnett ad agency picked someone who never touched dog food—Augie Doggie.

Snuffles also sold something else—himself. He was available just in time for Christmas 1961, according to this newspaper display ad (which seems to think Quick Draw’s sidekick is a sheep).

Dog biscuits weren’t included. Though I’ll bet Snuffles could tell you what kind to get.


  1. Pretty interesting article there! Weird seeing Augie shilling for that!

  2. Even at a very young age back when the cartoons were first airing I knew that it was a real product. But I never knew about the Kellogg's connection. Would have been fun if they could have come up with a Snuffles doll that actually flew into the air and floated to the ground.

    (Kind of a weird connected-but-not-connected ad thing happened over at Warners -- If you look at the 1951 Friz Freleng cartoon "Canned Feud", when Silvester opens the cabinet you see tons of cans of food, including cans for Star-Kist Tuna. Ten years later, Friz ends up animating Charlie the Tuna for Star-Kist, first at Warners and then at his own studio.)

  3. Heh- I was always struck by how 'realistic' and well-designed the box of dog biscuits looked in the later Quick Draw episodes with Snuffles. But I always dismissed the possibility that it was some kind of plug, since these were originally kids' shows and unlikely to be sponsored by such a product.

    It's quite noticeable that every FLINTSTONES character developed a huge thirst for grape juice in Season 4, the first full season of parenthood. Coincidentally, that's when Welch began sponsoring the show. Obviously original sponsor Winston couldn't continue to have a presence on a series whose titular couple just had a baby!

  4. Anti-trust legislation, anybody? I was so brainwashed by the Kellogg's connection on the Huck, Yogi and Quick Draw programs as a child, that I actually ate quite a few dog biscuits, trying to see if they would make me float through the air like Snuffles. Didn't work, and the biscuits had very little flavor and were kind of gritty.
    By the way, isn't that Doggie Daddy on the Gro-Pup box?

    1. Yeah it looks more like Doggie Daddy to me. Not quite as small as Augie is.

  5. As for verbal sponsor plugs, you'll notice that the lyrics for the themses of both THE MAGILLA GORILLA SHOW ("He's really ideal") and THE PETER POTAMUS SHOW ("He's our ideal") managed to prominently mention said toy manufacturer. Since the sponsor tags were removed when both shows were syndicated, it may have seemed strange that the word 'ideal' would have such prominence- to those who noticed.

    Thankfully, DVD releases and Youtubes of old sponsor tags have cleared up THAT mystery.

    Kelloggs' kept running commercials with Snagglepuss and the Meeces up until the mid-60s. But that wasn't the end of their partnership with Hanna-Barbera. There was a huge merchandising tie-in with the BANANA SPLITS ADVENTURE HOUR a couple of years later. And in 1969 and '70, animated cereal commercials aired during DASTARDLY & MUTTLEY and JOSIE AND THE PUSSYCATS respectively, and with those characters in the same animation style and mileu- i.e. trying to catch the pigeon/traveling around the world.

    The FCC must have intervened shortly afterward to ban the use of established cartoon characters in commercials on the theory that kids couldn't tell the show from the commercial. Hence the advent of "We'll be back after these messages" tags.

    Yet, Barney continued to steal cereal from Fred for decades afterward.

    1. I believe you're talking about the Host Advertising Rule from the FCC, which actually went into force in 1974; two years previous, the Television Code of the National Association of Broadcasters (which itself was struck down by the Federal Trade Commission in 1983 as it was found to be artifically manipulating ad rates during prime time especially) was amended to ban the same practice, essentially sounding the death knell for many locally-hosted kiddie shows around the country as relied heavily on host pitches.

  6. Great post...I did not know this!

    I always loved Snuffles.

    When I story-edited "Yogi's Treasure Hunt," we put Snuffles into an episode starring Quick Draw that was set in a ghost town. Sadly, the animation for Snuffles was not executed as one might have wanted. In fact, the animation for most of the series suffered the same fate.

    Later, when I was working on "A Pup Named Scooby Doo" along with Scott Jeralds and lots of others, we gave Snuffles' dog biscuit routine to pup Scooby. After consuming a "Scooby Snack," Scooby would hug himself in various poses, then rocket up into the air and out of shot, then float down, in the prone position, deeply satisfied.

    This was not really an homage to Snuffles -- it was more of a direct steal. And it worked well. Kids laughed out loud at it.

    Snuffles remains one of my favorite supporting players in the Hanna-Barbera universe.

  7. Anon, I went with Augie over Daddy for two reasons. 1) he doesn't have a collar (though it could be under the kerchief) and 2) I found the link to the image file through Mark Evanier's site and Mark says it's Augie.

  8. Hi again Yowp,
    It looks like Daddy to me because of the proportions, head to body, not the collar. Augie's a little guy, with a small body. Ah'm challengin' Evanier on that one! On the Snuffles spot you posted, that's Ed Love doing the animation.
    All best, Mark Kausler

  9. Thanks, Mark. I figured it was Ed because the doctor's head has a bunch of different positions when talking. Snuffles' head looks about 80% the size of the rest of his body.

    I'll let you and Mark battle it out over his old post. Btw, if you want to see a Daddy-proportioned Augie, check when he sticks his head out of the garbage can in 'Watch Dog Augie'. It was Carlo's first cartoon with the pair.

  10. The real-life biscuit box from the later Quick Draw season always astounish me. It's a real treat to animate a real box in a kid's cartoon. Nice found and clever informations Don!

    1. Some of those are probably photostats stuck on the cels so they didn't have to really draw it each time.

  11. Tom: There were several intervening H-B animal characters who would be put into Snuffles-like fits of ecstasy if offered the correct instigating object. For Muttley, it was a medal for saving Dick Dastardly during numerous failed attempts at stopping the pigeon. The "Crazy Claws" segment of 1981's KWIKKY KOALA SHOW featured Bristle Tooth, a mangy dog whose buttons were pushed when given beef jerky by his master Rawhile Clyde.

    By 1985, when TREASURE HUNT premiered, most H-B series were partially or fully farmed overseas for animation- usually Korea or the Phillippines. The animation of the first two seasons of HUNT seemed OK; the third (1987) abbreviated season of originals looked rather sloppy at times.

  12. Is this the earliest example of product placement? I was kinda under the impression that the first example was James Bond asking for a Smirnoff martini, but this pre-dates it by several years.

    Yowp, what did you endorse?

  13. Actually, no. The wonderfully inept 'Fire Maidens From Outer Space' (1956) features a space ship with a prominent Longines clock and dialogue which refers not just to space watches, but Longines Space Watches. I doubt it's a coincidence.
    The Gro-Pup mentions are kind of in between that and what they did on network radio comedy and variety shows. A joke about the sponsor's product (not a commercial) would find its way into the script because the out-of-context mention was funny. And I'm sure everyone knew it kept the sponsor and their ad agency happy.
    I don't think Kellogg's specifically said in its contract "We'll pay you X dollars to shoehorn our dog biscuits into a cartoon." I think it happened as a thrown-in to keep the sponsor happy. But I have no specific knowledge about it.

  14. The MAN CALLED FLINTSTONE theatrical depicted the gang flying to Paris on a basic pterodactyl jetliner with 'Quantas' clearly visible on it. By 1966 it was pretty routine to display the name of the airline TV or movie characters were using.

  15. Seeing As Snuffles Last Appearance, Tail wail snag was animated by Allen Wilzbach, I Have an Slight Off Topic Question. Were Did Allen Wilzbach Start Working in Animation before Later working for Hanna Barbera, Can Somebody answer that, Thank You.


  16. Asim, it's a good question. Jerry Beck at Cartoon Brew had a post five years ago saying Al was invited to a banquet for people who started in animation before 1955. Some ex-HBers hang around here, I gather, and one might have the answer. It'd be real cool if Al were around and able to talk about his career.

    I can tell you he was involved with either Little League or Pony League baseball in the late '60s or early '70s; at least, I'm assuming it's the same Al Wilzbach. His son Rob played short and was a leadoff batter. How's that for off-topic?

  17. Howie Fein,

    Don't forget that there's another Hanna-Barbera production which was sponsored by Kellogg's on its original airing on CBS: Shazzan (1967).

  18. Kellogg's sponsored Huckleberry Hound, Yogi Bear and Quick Draw McGraw until the end of their original syndicated runs in 1966. This is why there were "integrated commercials" for their cereals featuring Snagglepuss, "the meeces" and Jinks, and Yogi, produced as late as 1965. And I'm positive there were several "Gro-Pup T-bone Dog Biscuits" spots featuring Snuffles during "Quick Draw McGraw" (it's just that film prints of those ads haven't turned up yet). It stands to reason that if Snuffles is shown in a brief 20 second spot for "Gro-Pup Dog Food", and eating their dog biscuits from a box that's a fascimile of the sponsor's product in the actual cartoons themselves, then at least ONE of those commercials is "floating" out there, waiting to be discovered. As for the "Gro-Pup" box in Huck's "Nuts Over Mutts", that was a "courtesy" to Kellogg's {I can imagine Joe Barbera saying in 1959, "In this scene, why don't we show the Gro-Pup box as the 'bait' Huck's using?"}. After all, Bill and Joe never once showed ANY of their sponsor's cereals in their individual cartoons; the exception was the "Gro-Pup" box.

  19. ..."Bronco Bustin' Boobs" sounds like the title of a Russ Meyer soft-porn western flick :P :P