Hey AW360 readers! On September 24th, I did what few remote writers seldom actually wind up doing: I pried my eyeballs off of my laptop, packed my bags, and left my home on the West Coast to spend the next five days in the in real life (IRL) flesh for Advertising Week’s New York event.

My mission at #AWNewYork was simple. I was a brand mascot anthropologist, observing icons like the Kool-Aid Man, Chester the Cheetah, and Mr. Peanut as they made their way through the Big Apple. Not that this was their first rodeo, or anything. Back in the Mad Men era when ad agencies littered Madison Avenue, characters grew up here and saw the city as their playground. They were back again to celebrate Advertising Week’s 14th Annual Madison Avenue Walk of Fame and to see which among them would be inducted in for 2017 — and this year, I was right alongside them for the journey.

On Monday September 25th, we headed to the NASDAQ building in Times Square for the closing bell ceremonies. Y’know, as one just happens to casually do on a Monday afternoon. Before our elevator ride upstairs for filming, mascots began posing for pictures downstairs. Crash Test Dummies Vince and Larry gave everyone they encountered friendly thumbs up and A&W’s Rooty the Great Root Bear bounced around the room happily. Carvel’s Fudgie the Whale and Auntie Anne’s Twistee snagged as many pics together as they possibly could — gotta love brand mascot BFFs! And I may or may not have seen a tiny bit of Kool-Aid slosh out of the Kool-Aid Man’s pitcher from excitement too…

Here’s a shot of the whole crew on stage, humans included. (Especially this human, who felt right at home surrounded by her icon squad.) Right after our Advertising Week team rang the bell we announced the winners of the #MAWoF (Madison Avenue Walk of Fame). Drumroll please… as we meet your 2017 icons…

… The Energizer Bunny and Carvel’s Fudgie the Whale! You can read their full acceptance speeches here.

Afterwards, we celebrated their win with a photo opp in Times Square. It might have been a bit (okay, a lot) humid and warm outside, but the gang rallied together for their big group shot together. If anyone here was sweatin’, they’re doing a great job at hiding it.

Tuesday September 26th, I headed to the Liberty Theater in Times Square for a ride inside Mr. Peanut’s NUTmobile. (Kinda sounds like a new Disneyland attraction, doesn’t it?) Ever the dapper gent, Mr. P smooched my hand before the ride began (aw!) and we were off! Our NUTmobile explored the streets surrounding Times Square with the Peanutters in his entourage sharing fun facts about the character and handing out snacks. Move over taxis, subways, and rideshares, because this is truly the only way to travel in NYC.

Wednesday September 27th was an extra special day for me because it was the day of my — and incidentally, Advertising Week’s — first brand mascot panel. I had been prepping for this day for months and couldn’t wait to chat with our panelists Mr. Peanut, Smokey Bear, and Charlie the Tuna, live on stage!

Set to go live at 12:45 PM EST on the Bing Stage, the panel came together smoother and better than I could ever imagined. The only real change was that we wouldn’t be sitting down for it. Traditional AW events usually include chairs for the guests, but our panelists were pretty unique and special, as you can see from the photo above. Sitting in a chair might be tough for them, so we all stood instead with me behind the podium and each character coming out on stage with their rep who would be the “voice” of the mascot in answering my questions.

Within the next forty minutes, viewers had the once in a lifetime chance to “meet the mascots” and discover more about their accomplishments and adventures in the last year.

Mr. Peanut performed his Shorty Awards-winning dab and shared a little insight into what inspired him to bust a move during the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade.

Smokey Bear, who just turned 73 years old, revealed how he celebrated his big birthday along with tips on how fans can join #TeamSmokey on social media.

Charlie the Tuna talked about his bid for presidency in 2016 (as the #alTUNAtive candidate everyone remembers!) along with what it has been like to film the latest StarKist commercials with Fuller House actress Candace Cameron Bure.

If you didn’t make it to the panel or missed out on the event, rewatch it with us by hitting replay. Now that #AWNewYork has ended, I can be found over at the AW 360 Icons blog sharing a glimpse into the histories of all these mascots and more including Ronald McDonald, Captain Morgan, and the Pillsbury Doughboy. Will I be back next year with a whole new lineup of characters to chat with? Well… All I can say for now is stay tuned…


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