[Nameplate] Fair ~ 81°F  
High: 91°F ~ Low: 72°F
Monday, Aug. 29, 2016

Unknown individuals can have big impact

Wednesday, December 12, 2001

If you've never heard of Don Tennant, you're not alone. I had never heard his name until today when I read his obituary.

Tennant was an ad man - some called him an advertising genius - who coined enough phrases and familiar characters to fill a book. He died Saturday at age 79.

Tennant created Tony the Tiger for Kellogg's cereals and the Marlboro Man for Philip Morris. He created "Nothin' says lovin' like something from the oven" for Pillsbury and "Fly the friendly skies of United" for United Airlines. You may not have heard of Don Tennant but you knew his work.

It was almost 50 years ago that Tony the Tiger was born. That almost parallels my childhood and I well remember the famous character in the cereal commercials. The much-maligned Marlboro Man came along three years later.

It's funny some how that people like Don Tennant are so familiar in some ways and yet absolutely unknown in reality. These geniuses work anonymously creating jingles and phrases that we use our entire lives. And yet their names remain unheard of.

Tennant's Marlboro Man ended as the focus to many anti-smoking campaigns in our politically-correct society went along. He must have laughed at the notion that his advertising promotion came to such an ironic position.

Copywriter, composer, commercial director, editor, artist, filmmaker, marketing and advertising strategist. That's the way they list his accomplishments. But what he really did was sell things. To do that he created familiarity with his wording and his characters. And history proved it worked.

There's absolutely no point to this editorial other than to observe that sometimes people impact our lives in small ways and we never know who they are. In this case his name was Don Tennant.

Thanks for the memories.

Respond to this story

Posting a comment requires free registration: