Nostalgia Sunday – Strange… I’ve seen that face before

June 27, 2010 - 9:10 PM by

Went out to dine, en famille, at local Jerusalem eatery Pinati and noticed a change in their corporate image. Instead of a photoshopped photo of a rather excited-looking young man in a Turkish tarbush, what we now have is a cartoon — or is it a caricature? — of a man, still wearing the traditional fez — but looking remarkably like a contemporary US president.

It got me thinking about other brands we’ve had, throughout the years, that were inspired — a nice way of putting it — by other, perhaps more well-known images.

For example, take a look at Dan Haschan (“Thrifty Dan”), the elf that throughout the 1950s, 60s and 70s, helped Bank Hapoalim to encourage young people to save their agorot. He might as well be the eighth of Snow White’s dwarves. I mean, I get that the bag he’s holding is full of money but if he’s not one of them, then what’s the pickax for?

BTW: Dan was recently revived by Poalim, sans tools and his bag upgraded to a cool moneybox. There’s a good blog posting about the comeback (in Hebrew) on Samlil, a site devoted to Israeli branding and its sister site, Safta, a fantastic Flickr photostream of vintage Israeliana.

I’ve always loved the Ama lady, the face that launched a thousand loads of laundry. But look carefully and what you’ll see is Betty Boop, had she been born in pre-State Mandatory Palestine, served in the Palmach, married, moved into a workers’ residence and had to do all her washing by hand in the communal laundry room.

And who can forget MacDavid, the little kosher fast food chain that could? Certainly not McDonald’s, who sued the now defunct franchise (8 outlets in it’s heyday) for trademark infringement — and lost!

We have to forgive Walla!, Israel’s answer to Yahoo!, for the close resemblance because at the time every country had its own local Nanas, Yallas!, Kartoos or other copycat search engine-cum-web portal.

Clearly, there’s no way that Zakumi, the 2010 World Cup Mascot, could have known about Strauss-Elite’s new chocolate-inspired foursome, the Elite-Team. They probably just go to the same hairdresser.

However, there’s every chance that El-Al’s branding and marketing team had seen a relatively uknown little film called Walt Disney’s Peter Pan. Check out the winged flight attendant and tell me there’s no resemblance to our favorite jealous fairy.

But the biggest “tribute”* around these days has got to be animated cartoon Ahmed & Salim.

The elevator pitch: would-be Palestinian terrorists meet South Park. It’s been narrowcasting on YouTube for a while, earning its share of media coverage, bans and death threats along the way, and last week made its Israeli cable debut on comedy channel Bip.

An 11-year old told me it was really funny. I am unconvinced. But I suppose it beats what they’re showing kids on Palestinian TV. And Israel hasn’t ripped off Mickey Mouse, Maya the Bee and Bugs Bunny… yet.


*Another nice word

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One Comment on Nostalgia Sunday – Strange… I’ve seen that face before

    [...] had the best mascots: the Textil Shampo boy, the Or boy and my personal favorite, the Ama lady. As I’ve written before, she owes a great deal to Betty Boop, and in fact, could be Betty Boop — if Betty Boop were [...]

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