Pillsbury Doughboy

Eight 30 Second TV Commercials

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We knew we were in for it once we got the job, and a team from Pillsbury arrived with a very thick briefing book, outlining Doughboy dos and don'ts. This was no mere cartoon...The Doughboy is an icon, the personification of a brand image, and consequently his every gesture and facial tic had to meet established criteria. But in the process of completing the spots, these rules became second nature to us, and we found ourselves instinctively saying "the Doughboy wouldn't do that" or "that's our little guy".

Things were not always so cut and dried with the character, however. In fact, the reason that Pillsbury came knocking to various animation houses in the spring of 2001 is that it had been decided that it was time to impose some consistency on the way the character was being presented. For years, he had been handled by different animators, causing changes in his anatomy, performance, and coloration. Now, his image was to be standardized. A model was created for us to use - the same model used to generate Pillsbury print ads. To win the job, we had to take this model and with our animation prove that we 'understood' the character.

Previous attempts to bring the Doughboy from clay into the CG realm had ranged from the overacted to the weightless...and none of them quite hit the standard they were currently looking for. And in 30-odd years of Doughboy ads, we were told that there had yet to be a definitive poke done. I accepted the challenge of doing that poke, which was a key component of the test we did to win the job. The test was actually quite helpful, in that by the time it was done, we had a working model of the character, which shaved weeks off of the actual production schedule later.

A key component of Topix's pitch for the job was the Final Gathering renderer, since one thing Pillsbury really wanted was a believably integrated character.