Here at PopIcon, we enjoy exploring advertising’s world of icons. Characters can be animated like the Trix Rabbit, real folks like KFC’s Colonel Sanders, and fictitious people like Allstate’s Mayhem. Behind every great character is a team of creatives. They work hard to use the power of storytelling to give these icons their beloved personalities. It takes a village of talent to keep these icons fresh and relevant through the generations!

We’re celebrating Advertising Week’s 15th anniversary with a salute to the talented minds behind some of the world’s most iconic advertising characters and jingles in “Building Characters: What It Takes to Bring Iconic Brand Mascots to Life.”

Moderated by PopIcon Senior Editor, Heather Taylor, our hour of critter chat features three phenomenal speakers. Here’s a glimpse at who will be joining us…


Pat Giles is the CCO of Danger Pigeon Studios, “the character agency” that he runs along with his wife, Amy Giles.

Prior to creating this full-service shop, Pat was an SVP Creative Director at Saatch & Saatchi where he worked on ad campaigns for a roster of characters and their brands including Lucky Charms, Trix, Cocoa Puffs, and Monster Cereals. More characters on his resume include the Pillsbury Doughboy, Green Giant, and McGruff The Crime Dog. Pat is currently working on “The Bizarre World of Frank Zappa,” coming to stages nationally in 2019.


Keith Manzella is a former Marvel Comics Creative Director turned pop culture design guru.

Characters have surrounded him throughout his career. Keith has designed cereal boxes featuring Fred Flintstone, Sugar Bear from Golden Crisp, and Waffle Boy from Waffle Crisp. Currently at east|west marketing group, Keith keeps kids engaged at breakfast by working with some of the world’s most loved cereal characters for Post Foods.


Linda Kaplan Thaler is the President of Kaplan Thaler Productions.

She’s responsible for some of America’s most famous, relevant, and touching advertising campaigns in the industry. She created the Aflac Duck, and the daring “Yes, Yes, Yes!” campaign for Clairol Herbal Essences. Linda has also authored and composed advertising jingles. One of her most iconic jingles is “I Don’t Wanna Grow Up, I’m a Toys ‘R’ Us Kid” for Toys”R”Us. She is a celebrated author and television personality. Her collaborations with coauthor Robin Koval have become national bestsellers, including “The Power of Nice.” Their newest bestseller, “GRIT to GREAT,” has been listed as one of the top business books for 2015.

From creating characters from scratch to working on spokescharacters that started out as cartoons, and running an ad agency dedicated to critters, this will be one panel you won’t want to miss out on!

This panel will start at 12 PM EST on Wednesday October 3rd at AMC Loews Lincoln Square. Buy a pass here. If you’re planning to attend, don’t forget to tag us with the hashtag #AWNewYork!


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