Today, it’s impossible to imagine picking up a box of Lucky Charms and not see the grinning face of Lucky the Leprechaun, one of the most magically delicious mascots around, on the cover. Diehard cereal fans may recall that in 1975, Lucky went on hiatus and was replaced by Waldo the Wizard. Who was Waldo and how did he almost finagle such a great gig for his own?
Lucky the Leprechaun made his commercial debut in 1964 with the help of creatives at ad agency Dancer Fitzgerald Sample (now better known as Saatchi & Saatchi). Tony Jaffe, the agency’s Creative Director, helped supervise, write, and produce presentations for the Lucky Charms account. Lucky’s ad campaign was said to be one of the most expensive in advertising, with the agency pulling out all of the stops for the mascot’s rollout.
Lucky the Leprechaun was 11-years-old in 1975 when the decision was made to let him go in some regions in favor of a new face, Waldo the Wizard. If you don’t remember Waldo’s appearance during that time, don’t worry. General Mills only tested the character in New England markets.
Alan Snedeker at Dancer Fitzgerald Sample created Waldo, a friendly but forgetful sorcerer. Waldo wore a green cape and matching cap covered in the Lucky Charms marshmallow shapes, a bow tie, and had messy, unkempt hair. Lucky might have exclaimed that Lucky Charms were “magically delicious,” but Waldo called them “Ibbledebibbledelicious!” He was never very good at remembering where he left his cereal and often lost it in the commercial spots. If he couldn’t find his Lucky Charms, Waldo conjured up a bit of magic to make the cereal appear on breakfast tables for the kids.
Waldo might have tested high with New England audiences, but he was still up against Lucky, whose ads were still running in other U.S. regions. Snedeker also worked on Lucky’s campaigns and made the mascot a bit nicer during this time. Lucky was now a little more keen on sharing his cereal with the children instead of running away from them. The rewrites worked. Waldo was retired within the year and Lucky was put back in the spotlight and in the cereal aisle.
We could mourn Waldo’s short-lived legacy, but it’s best to celebrate it because his time at Lucky Charms almost didn’t happen. Snedeker’s Waldo was initially dreamed up in 1970 for Amazin’ Raisins, a cereal that never hit grocery store shelves. Sprinkle a little pixie dust on this character a few years later and he became a brief, but memorable, cereal icon!