He’s been shot into space, canoed rivers and donned boxing gloves
to work out in the gym. But most of all he drums ... and drums ... and
Gillette may have a grand strategy mapped out for its Duracell
subsidiary, whose pounds 50 million European and US account has just
been aligned within the BBDO network (Campaign, last week). But what
everybody really wants to know is what will become of the battery
maker’s drumming bunny.
BBDO says the fate of the infuriating little pink toy with a battery
that purports to last until hell freezes over but which has,
nonetheless, become one of advertising’s most familiar icons, has yet to
If the bunny is put back in his hutch, it will mark the end of a
remarkable advertising career stretching over two decades.
The character, first developed in the US by Dancer Fitzgerald Sample,
was used in just one commercial. But when he was introduced into Britain
in the late 70s through the then Michael Bungey & Partners, the response
was remarkable. The agency was inundated with inquiries about where the
toys could be bought, while traders on Oxford Street did a roaring trade
in pirate copies.
So popular did the bunny become that red-headed children found
themselves being dubbed ’Duracells’ after the copper-topped
However, the bunny has also attracted controversy. Having fallen into
neglect in the US, a row was sparked when Chiat Day won the account for
Duracell’s arch-rival, Energizer, and ’borrowed’ him for a campaign. The
result was an agreement under which the bunny works for Energizer in the
US while Duracell retains his services in Europe.
Time and a changing market, however, may spell curtains for the
Batteries are no longer just for toys and torches but ghetto blasters
and PC laptops.
Diana Dobson, new-business director of Energizer’s pan-European agency,
Bates Dorland, says: ’The bunny’s soft and fluffy image just doesn’t fit
in with modern technology.’