A few weeks ago, something magical happened on YouTube. A hero from our childhoods was plucked from obscurity, and attempted to slip back into the consciousness of a society that had grown up, moved on and now found him twee, and a little bit lame.
Kellogg's famous mascot, Tony the Tiger, returned to us in a series of adverts, where he endeavors to come to the aid of three adults that grew up enjoying his sugary and nutritious baked corn treats.
But Tony's blind optimism comes at a price. The world has indeed changed and our favorite cartoon tiger now finds himself aiding kids that have lost their way and become terrorists, corrupt cops and prostitutes. You can pretty much ascertain the tone already.
They're Not Doing So Gr-r-reat...
The presentation of the prank content is incredibly professional, and definitely enough to fool the average bystander. The website tonyisback.com, created especially for the prank, is identical to Frosted Flakes' own homepage.
And the creation of the hashtag #tonyisback and the usage of the iconic catchphrase "They're Gr-r-reat!" only goes on to add an even thicker layer of authenticity to this already crazy concoction.
Here's a round up video of the madness:
On the "Tweet Tony" page, the mascot explains why he chose to come back to aid his lost children:
I've helped so many kids to solve their every day problems over the years. I contacted ten people who were children 30 years ago in my Frosted Flakes commercials, and asked them what their problems are now in their 40's. See how I helped them!
But now that Kellogg's has stepped in and taken down tonyisback's Twitter and Facebook pages, the message has swiftly changed to one of discontent:
I’ve helped so many kids to solve their every day problems over the years. But the kids have grown up and the world has changed. What used to help is now making things worse. Now I am the one who needs help. Please, help me.
What any of this means is anybody's guess! No one has come out and explained exactly what the heck the point behind this prank actually is. But an outrageously attentive commenter over on Dorkly's Facebook page followed the trail of clues and found who it was that threw this crazy plan together.
The trail leads to Finnish artist Jani Leinonen, whose previous works are very similar in tone and aesthetic to the return of Tony the Tiger.
On his home page, the artist goes some way into discussing his ethos in a eye-opening and candid manifesto. Here's an excerpt from it:
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?
His gritty and melancholy-inducing artwork is the result of a life spent coveting plasticky goods from conglomerates who are only interested in our funds, and the anger and confusion over their seemingly never quenching thirst for capital.
Check out some of his work below:
Made in China Planet
If you're a fan of famous British street artist Banksy, you'll be pleased and unsurprised to learn that Leinonen has collaborated with the artist in the past, and recently had some of his work on display at Banksy's sinister art project Dismaland, which is a twisted take on amusement parks like Disneyland.
While Leinonen's acts are noble, in that they seek to shake the populous out of our narcotized states of slumber by subverting the images of some of the world's most recognizable and digestible brands, when the lawyers come calling over the misuse of Kellogg's famed mascot, I wonder if he will rue possibly having bitten off more than he could chew?
What do you think?
(Source: YouTube, tonyisback, Dorkly)