How Many Licks Does It Take To Make It CG?

Let’s remake a classic hand-drawn animated commercial…

in CGI…

Are ad agencies so deprived of original thinking that the best they can do is recycle a forty-year-old soundtrack, and remake it shot-by-shot in CG?

What does this new version offer that the original didn’t? Less charm? Check. Uglier character designs? Check. Blander animation? Check. Fussy over-detailed backgrounds that overwhelm the characters? Check.

Computer animation is a wonderful tool. It’s a shame that more artists aren’t using it to explore new ideas which aren’t possible by other means, and instead use to incompetently replicate existing techniques.
(Thanks, Andrew Ebert)

UPDATE: In the interest of equal time, Ezra from LucidCircus, the production company responsible for the CG spot, made a comment below about the studio’s work. Here’s some of what he says:

I appreciate the critiques but it’s about a year too late. The style and overall look and feel were dictated to us. The agency folk in the room understand. What you see isn’t the original design but the final approved version. In a nutshell I was asked to copy Over the Hedge. We didn’t have creative license. This isn’t art, it’s a commercial. The client got what the client wanted. I feel your pain. I hate all CGI remakes as well. But it’s a good portfolio piece and the general public approves.


  • Adam

    Like so much CGI: horrible, ugly, unappealing. There goes my appetite for tootsie pops.

  • SteveB

    Anybody know who animated the original spot? Looks very much like the Kurtz & Friends style.

  • http://www.flyingiguannaproductions.com Zee

    Disgraceful. Can’t blame the animators though. This piece of garbage has “suit” written all over it.

    It makes me appreciate the original all that much more. It was a brilliant choice to color the characters all white, since the BG was all water colored and blotchy. Those guys knew what they were doing!!

  • http://home.earthlink.net/~superwombat/ SuperWombat

    So wrong on so many levels.

    The original spot was still being run on commercial television through the ’90s as I recall. Would be no more dated now that it was then, and no less compelling. It’s a classic for a reason.

    Everyone responsible for birthing this pitiful forgery should be ashamed of themselves. Textbook mediocrity right there.

  • http://www.alanrhodes.com protogenes

    That was awful.

  • http://www.bishopanimation.com Floyd Bishop

    It would be interesting to find out the reason for some of the design choices in this newer commercial. In the defense of whomever created this, doing this specific commercial in CG is a bit like trying to sculpt the Mona Lisa. You can do it, but the results won’t please anyone, as the original is such a classic. That being said, there are some odd choices that were made in this new spot. Is this a real commercial, or a student trying to do something interesting for a demo reel? It almost looks like the latter.

  • amid

    Floyd – According to the filmmaker on YouTube, it’s already airing in South Korea and Mexico, and should be airing in the States soon. Feel free to elaborate on those ‘odd choices’ you mentioned. I’m just curious what it is from your CG perspective that you find disconcerting.

    SteveB – I don’t know which studio animated the original but my guess is that it’s not Kurtz & Friends. A lot of studios during that period worked in a similar graphic style to K&F (it was the look of the day) so it’s difficult determining who did it.

  • Kevin

    I work in 3D animation, and that was awful. The CGI design for the kid looks really bad. I say if its not broke, then why fix it.

  • Mr. Semaj

    There was another 3D Tootsie Pop commercial, with these robot monsters. While the concept was a little confusing, it was much funnier and more original than this plagiaristic garbage.

  • Alussa

    There are no words. Somebody actually PAID for this thing?

  • Kyle Maloney

    I was surprised the other day to find out that they were still airing the hand drawn version of the ad. But now that I know about the 3d one, that’s probably why. They are trying to remind us of the original before they show us the new one. “Hey remember that old classic? Well now it’s in 3d! Yay!”

  • http://chrisbattleillustration.blogspot.com/ Chris Battle

    Weak.

  • http://www.autodaddy.blogspot.com tom

    That’s got Shrek’s big, greasy fingerprints all over it. Grey, grimy shadows instead of the more appealing chromatic shading, the hideous, deep, dark backgrounds that overwhelm the characters. Just awful. I even prefer the recent Redenbacher resurrection commercial to this horrible thing.

  • http://www.fooksie.com Fooksie

    That was craptastic! The acting in the CG commercial was terrible. Where is the look of disgust that the kid musters in the original, when he realizes he’s been had by the owl?

    And stuff looked like it was floating. Where’s the weight? Oh well…

  • http://crewhudson.blogspot.com Tom Hudson

    Are you sure this isnt a fan made recreation or something? I dont mind going back to a classic and bringing out something new but this is obviously a step back. Such a shame. I always loved that commercial and the regular Tootsie Roll commercial.

  • http://wardomatic.blogspot.com Ward

    Having kids, I watch my share of commercials on the kiddie networks, and I can say that yes, they are still showing the original. I happened to catch it last weekend, as a matter of fact. At the time I was thinking, wow, that’s great and refreshing to see the classic spot still being shown today — love the “real” medium aspect, real paint, ink, etc. But now that I see this new version, it all makes sense why they were showing the original.

    Egads.

  • Tom Minton

    Whichever NYC house did the original, they owed a debt to the look of R.O.Blechman, by aping his style, which was then very much in commercial vogue. As simple as that classic spot is, the CGI version managed to miss a couple of key poses in the Owl’s acting, most notably the crucial, knowing glance to camera just before he chomps down on the thing. It takes real genius to screw up a free meal.

  • http://chuckrekow.com Chuck R.

    “This piece of garbage has “suitâ€? written all over it.”

    None of us can say for sure who’s to blame, but if the suits’ idea was simply to remake a classic commercial in another technique, that’s not necessarily bad. I mean, the Peter Jackson “King Kong” certainly came out fine. This could have too.

    Yes, the design is overly detailed and fussy and has none of the stylization that made the original interesting. The background overpowers the characters (no love lost there) but also the soundtrack. They also discarded the (implied) low horizon and brought the camera way up to show off the dimensions of the characters-big mistake.

    One thing that’s improved IMHO, is the product shot at the end. The candy does look tasty.

  • http://www.bishopanimation.com Floyd Bishop

    Amid: I’m wondering why they went with the realistic surfaces, yet tried to keep the stylized form of the characters? Why give the boy character realistic hair, clothes, etc and then make his movement so minimal? The look of the character doesn’t support the way he moves or acts. Then there is the background. Why do we need to see a field of blowing grass if it serves no purpose? The “realistic” characters don’t interact with it at all. Those are the odd choices I was referring to. Maybe these were things requested by the client? It’s hard to say what I would have done differently, and it’s not really fair to be an armchair director, but I probably would have stayed a bit truer to the original it’s based on, and gone with an NPR (non-photorealistic rendering) solution. They should have aimed for PDI’s “Fishing” instead of “Shrek”.

    As a bit of an aside, it’s a shame that PDI was so ahead of the curve with “Fishing” back in 2000, and then seemingly abandoned that style.

  • http://paigekeiser.blogspot.com Paige Keiser

    That’s hideous!

    Did Stephen King design that kid? He’s scary.

  • Paul

    Now Tom, let’s not go overboard… The Redenbacher spot was far worse than this. This is just a “modernization”, it didn’t bring people back from the dead…

    Next up for CG-ization: Schoolhouse Rock! >:0(

  • Chris Sobieniak

    This is terrible, that’s all I have to say! Couldn’t we at least have the simplistic backgrounds again! :-)

    (too bad I was more a “Dum-Dums” person than for Tootsie Pops)

  • http://teatime-cady.blogspot.com Kelly

    I have to agree with Floyd on this one. For God’s sake, this would look substantially better in Flash. It’s hard to get something SO graphic to look good in 3D.

    But really – why make it look so realistic? It really is unsettling….the kid looks, well, malformed. It’s kinda gross….

  • http://ian-j.blogspot.com/ Ian J.

    Wow, that’s pretty awful. It looks like an Intro to 3D Animation class assignment, not something someone actually paid money for.

  • http://gagaman.blogspot.com GagaMan

    UUUUGH.

    I just came back from watching Hoodwinked (well, half of it, I turned it off at the scene where the granny was snowboarding to rap music), and had to watch some Looney Tunes to sooth the pain, and now this shows up. By any chance was this animated by the Hoodwinked guys? It seems to have a lot in common with it.

  • http://artcrap.blogspot.com Bug

    I’m surprised as hell that they still show the old ad.. I’m guessing this is an update that’s going to be shown for thirty more years.

    p.s the kid looks like a troll.

  • Nic Kramer

    What I expect is that when the commerical is on the TV, Tootsie going to have so many angry emails from fans of the comerical, there’s no doubt that the commerical will have a quick death on the tube.

  • http://superspecialstuff.blogspot.com jeannine schafer

    wtf man?

    ewww… why did they think they needed to do that? I shouldn’t have even watched it, I think it hurt me on the inside. I agree with Ian about it looking like a poorly done school assignment.

  • Solsetimo

    Everyone who thinks it’s awful: Please comment to that effect on the YOUTUBE site. Because all the comments for this video right now are positive. And that is just so wrong.

    So. Wrong.

  • http://leescartoons.com Lee

    shameful… I don’t think there is anything else to say.

  • http://zekeyspaceylizard.blogspot.com ZekeySpaceyLizard

    The owl looks alright. But that’s probably because, other than the colors, he looks exactly as he did in the original commercial. Except in 3d. But holy crap. Some ugly stuff there. Hideous even.

    They should have done the whole thing like how they did the owl. Solid colors, soft shading, and minimal detail. Keep the kid a white blob like he was in the past, but 3d. Stylized. Or just, you know, stop remaking things in 3d for no reason other than novelty.

    Hey Amid, that reminds me. A new Orville Redenbacher commercial is out on tv. It’s better than the first one but still looks like a scene out of something by George A Romero.

  • Craig

    I just saw the original on TV last week, I happen to still have a “Tootsie Roll Owl” air freshener hanging from my car rear view mirror right now. This should have been done in Flash if you “must” update it. The 3D is way too visually busy and floaty for my tastes. I wonder what Paul Winchell thinks? The candy does look good though….

  • http://www.autodaddy.blogspot.com tom

    Craig, if Paul Winchell’s thinking anything right now, it’s probably the word “Brains!” over and over. He’s been dead since 2005
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Paul_Winchell

  • Sean D.

    I was just watching this a couple of days ago on YouTube. I’d assumed that it was a student film- and thought it pretty good as a student exercise. Knowing that it’s a pro job definitely takes it down a few notches.

    But, thanks for spreading around crappy work again, Amid. Can Cartoon Brew please focus on the good stuff instead of constantly pointing out what sucks. Check out drawn.ca as an example of an inspirational blog. They don’t go around digging up bad drawings to make fun of constantly… You’d think there’d be enough positive news around to carry an animation blog.

  • Christopher Cook

    The facial nuances on the owl and the kid in the original (which I actually saw a couple of weeks ago on Cartoon Network) are glaringly absent on the CGI remake. Embarassingly sterile.

  • http://www.cganim.com chuck

    sad…

  • http://portapuppets.does.it uncle wayne

    Jeeeee-ZUSS! What a goddam shame! I guess they just don’t GET it?? ….the charm of the REAL one! Thank goodness it is a film still being aired today!! Spare me!

  • http://www.rigmasternick.com Nick Burkard

    Amid – I don’t think the commercial industry is really a good yardstick to judge CG by. Apparently you’re just not exposing yourself to enough innovative CG. Look at works by Rebbeca Allen, Jim Deusing, or even Blur studios they all represent unique areas of versatile CG.
    Just like 2d animation, 3d suffers from it’s fair share of things that make you say “God that’s horrible” (anyone remember 90s saturday morning TV animation). As a general rule of thumb graphic 2d animation does not translate well into 3d (for obvious reasons).

  • http://scottmorse.blogspot.com Scott Morse

    This sucks. My buddy Vincent Davis designed and animated the original masterpiece. He’ll probably laugh his ass off at this new version and scratch his bald little head wondering what the hell they were thinking. The original only took him a week or two to do, I think he said. It was done back in the days when commercial houses pumped this stuff out cheap, never thinking it’d become so important historically.

    Anyhow, hats off to Vincent for the original, and hats pulled down hard over eyes and ears to the idiots who approved the new version.

  • Kip W

    Ever see the Al Jaffee article in MAD many years ago, where drawings by kids (allegedly) were turned into 3-D models, to show that letting kids design their own toys was really a dumb idea? That’s what this reminds me of.

    The original drawing style reminds me less of Blechman and more of the generic simplistic style used in various comic book ads around 1967, like one for bikes where a kid is trying to destroy his old bike so his parents will buy him (brand name) bike instead.

  • http://www.mukpuddy.blogspot.com Mukpuddy

    That’s definitely why they’ll be airing the old version!! Man words can’t even express my disgust!! I totally agree with the Shrek comment -YUCK!!

  • Jonathan Green

    I don’t know if I buy calling the old spot a classic. Yeah, it’s an amusing bit aired to death throughout our late baby boom childhoods. It still looks like a pencil test over blotter paper. That doesn’t mean the new one is anything of note, but let’s not get overwrought about desecrating some masterpiece.

  • http://makinita.deviantart.com/ Makinita

    That 3D spot sucked balls with all due respect.

  • Kyle

    I actually think this new cg version of the commercial is excellent. By taking their old advertisement and cleaning up the audio and visual, they are marketing their product to today’s youth. It may seem cheap that they simply recycled their old commercial, but that is exactly why it was a good idea. It would cost a lot less for them to redo something then to spend the man hours coming up with an original idea. Lets face it, our generation won’t be buying Tootsie Pops, our children will. The old animation just won’t grab their attention the way colorful, high contrast CG can. We may not like their methods, but you can’t argue the logic.

  • Doctor Awkward

    It could have been worse. At least they didn’t re-record the voices with the likes of Eddie Murphy and Mike Myers.

  • Andrew

    OH MY GOD! :O

    Why does it always have to get worse?

  • http://megapoosuperhero.blogspot.com/ Bino

    Well I prefer the old version because the animation of the new version is not as good as the old one. And because I do prefer the old school style!

  • Kyle Rayner

    It doesn’t do the original ad justice. There’s just something about animation, especially good ‘ol pen and ink that just puts more life into things. Long live the original.

  • http://refusetoblog.blogspot.com Lisa

    That’s just wrong. Morons!

  • Jason

    Really? This much disgust over an ad? I thought it was fine, and quite charming actually.

  • http://www.rightbrainterrain.com Fred Terral

    The new version is BRILLIANT. It took guts to redo an old classic like that. And they pulled it off flawlessly, yet still maintained the comic timing. Computer are finally letting REAL artists like myself express theirselves much more effectively than back in the days of ink and paper. I think I’m going to go buy some tootsie roll right now and support the cause!

  • Rick

    If I hadn’t of read the comments from the author over at YouTube, I would of assumed this is a “spec spot” and nothing more. Like everyone else, I don’t think it looks very good.

    However, and I’ll probably get ripped for this, I didn’t care for the original either.

  • Danielle

    The only word that comes to mind is… why?!

  • http://www.TVsKyle.net TV’s Kyle

    What, they weren’t making enough money on owl shirts from Hot Topic?

  • Mr. Woah

    Yeah, ZekeySpaceyLizard summed it up; the owl looks good, but the others are terrible.

  • http://www.strugglingyoungman.com Shaw

    Time out… That “original” ad on the top IS NOT THE ORIGINAL TOOTSIE POP AD!!!!! That “original” ad is actually a remake of an older black and white ad, which was LONGER and, well, devoid of colors!!!

    With that said — I agree with the consensus that the newest remake of a remake is pretty bad. CGI is a power much abused in animation. However, how much you want to bet that folks 30 years ago were all saying the same thing about the colorized version of this ad?

  • Ludwig Van Nostrand

    I demand that large shocks of electricity be applied to the genitals of the creative director responsible for this.

  • Caz

    Are you sure this is an actual ad? It looks like it could be a student demo using the original audio track.

  • Jeremy

    How does Mr. Owl talk while licking the tootsie pop at the same time?

  • http://andygonsalves.com Andy

    The original spot is flawless. The new one looks like a student film and the characters really get lost in those busy backdrops.

  • guanoboy

    Someone compared the spot to hoodwinked…and while I agree that Hoodwinked is not a good looking film, there is some merit there…they made that feature for 9mil…and made over 100mil. I think it was a first to make a CG feature for that low of a cost. They also did it with a very small crew. I’m not saying that makes the film a good film, I haven’t seen it, but I am saying it makes a point. Would you rather make something than not make anything at all? The film-makers involved are all going on to do projects they really wanted to do as a result of the films success…when they originally pitched they had no intention of making a CG film (or even using that story) but their investor wanted one…and hoodwinked was born.

    I work in the commercial world myself, and the process of getting a spot made can be painful…and the creative process (agency/client/etc) can water down your intentions to nothing but muck. Imagine sitting in a room with 15 clients trying to come to a consensus on how somehting should look…when all 15 of those clients are wishing they were a director.

  • http://jedaniels-adventures.blogspot.com/ Jpox

    Ugh. I used to watch for that classic commercial on Saturday mornings back in the day. I feel sorry for what the children of today are being subjected to.

  • Jamie Sue

    Suck.
    Where can I send a protest letter?

  • John

    Sure the original was a classic and the new one is just mediocre. But we aren’t their intended audience. I don’t think they expect the new generation of kids to know the previous one.

  • http://www.jjsedelmaier.com J.J. Sedelmaier

    this “side by side” should be shown in every animated film class when explaining what the strengths and weaknesses are of the two techniques. . . geez !

  • http://crisafullidoodles.blogspot.com/ Marc Crisafulli

    Also missing is the kid’s FANTASTIC reaction.

    I’d love to see a third ad where the characters from the original commercial reclaim their glory from their dopplegangers of the new one, and all the new characters lose heavily-modeled and shaded teeth as they’re forced to bite into additional Tootsie Pops along the way. If Madison Avenue chooses to redeem itself a little by using this idea, I promise not to sue!

  • The Gigglepuss

    That’s a hilarious piece of footage! Come on! Forget good or bad, it’s amazing how obsessed people are with CGI! Wonderful!

    Something much cooler would be to give this soundtrack to some modern animation auteurs and indie cartoonists [Jackson Publick, Aadarman, Peter Bagge, etcetera] if they wanted to update it, but ahhh, kids buy those tootsie rolls, and chances are they haven’t seen it off and on again for fourty years [because... well most 40 year olds aren't kids].

    This is wonderfully bizzare! I await the movie version!

  • Eric

    Weird, I was just talking about this commercial in class. A past student of mine did a research project and found that it takes about 160 licks to get to the tootsie roll center of a tootsie pop. Just in case anyone is interested in the actual answer to this burning question.

  • http://www.brilliantisland.com Robert

    Until I clicked on the link to the makers, LucidCircus, I was sure this was a student work. It just doesn’t look like the sort of CG we see in commercials.

    I recently attended an animation school, but stopped after a year. I figured there was such a glut of talented animators out there that one would have to be ultra-stratospherically talented to get any job at all. But now I’m not so sure.

  • http://grahamsbrainfunnel.blogspot.com/ Graham Ross

    Dear god my eyes! Make it stop!

  • http://animationwriters.blogspot.com Steve

    Oh. God. Ow.

  • Chris Sobieniak

    >

    Too bad it seems to be moderated. I otherwise said only one word there (“Terrible”), but don’t expect it to be published for the vid, and I DON’T want to check to see if it’s there since that’s the last time I ever want to see that ad again, but if this is true, I might be seeing this eventually on the boob toob. (hardly pay attention anyway to see what they’ve done to improve the CGI-ed Redenbacher).

    Also of interest, yeah, the timing seems pretty weak and the kid’s expression at the end should’ve been retained the way I saw it, instead of the sort of “WTF” clueless look they gave him. The joy I had with this ad was to stick my finger out at him at the end going “Ha! Ha! LOSER! Nyah-nyah-ne-nyah-nyah!”, but I just can’t do it now. If the backgrounds weren’t too terribly realistic and constantly move a lot, I might not have felt too queasy while watching this. It was best to see him get hosed the way the classic commerical was able to do so in the 30 second time frame.

  • Animaker

    The CG version is pathetic. I especially hate the wind-swept grass that distracts from the primary action.

    The character design is weak — worse that what you’d see from students. The animation is lifeless and unnecessarily restrained. Facial expressions are weak. Worst of all is the staging of the turtle’s face — you can’t even tell that he’s talking.

    I wish I had never seen that piece of crap.

  • http://demianjohnston.blogspot.com Demian

    yeah… put my vote in the “remake was super crappy” column.

  • http://www.allofmyheroes.blogspot.com jeaux

    How many Licks does it take to make this terrible CGI commercial Choke & Die & Fade away from the public conciousness?!?
    Well, one can wish really hard, I suppose…

    I was under the impression that the spot was a student piece as well when I was researching the commercial a few months ago… guess my assumption was wrong.

  • RODAN

    What more could you expect from a sucker commercial? A commercial that sucks…..of course!

    I was actually missing that classic commercial the other day when zonking out in front of my video information box in the living room. And when I saw the original here on the Brew….I fount it touching. And the latter one I just found. Eeeeh! So what else is not new?

    Thanks for posting the first… Cheers!

  • http://www.ofla.info/ John Hoare

    The sad thing is, is that I like the idea. Yes, it’s not the most original idea in the world, but there’s nothing instrinsically wrong with remaking old ads. By keeping the old soundtrack, it could have been kinda fun.

    But the execution? Bleaugh. The kid’s end expression. really is the worst bit, and sums up everything that’s wrong with the ad. Sigh.

  • Jason Thomas

    Yeah, remake was lame. Definitely a corporate brain child.

    BUT… IDEA!!!!!!!!! : Make lemonade, TOOTSIE ROLL INDUSTRIES!! Let this spot be the first in a line of the same concept that you give to other animation studios. Kurtz & Friends do one, Will Vinton does another… Even let John K see if he can make one without a bunch of fart gags. When people (animation fans and otherwise) spot the same ad, animated in different ways, they will rewind their Tivo’s, and go back and check it out. Later you can do the same thing with the “wherever I look” spot.

    Just let them be creative. They have to use the audio, but can tell the story any way they want.

    If your marketing people continue to act like a bunch of middle-aged suits, that’s the only demographic you’ll be reaching.

  • http://lucidcircus.com Ezra

    I was wondering why the comments went from “wow, that’s neat!” to an onslaught of animation geek outrage. I appreciate the critiques but it’s about a year too late. The style and overall look and feel were dictated to us. The agency folk in the room understand. What you see isn’t the original design but the final approved version. In a nutshell I was asked to copy Over the Hedge. We didn’t have creative license. This isn’t art, it’s a commercial. The client got what the client wanted. I feel your pain. I hate all CGI remakes as well. But it’s a good portfolio piece and the general public approves.

    FWIW I have been approving all the comments both good and bad.

    No one commented on how much we cleaned up the audio. Where is the love? How about the other spot we did for Charms? That was original bit in a similar style. Does it suck too?

  • grignr

    They got my favorite part wrong, where the owl opens his eyes so sloooowly…

  • http://choppingblock.com Matthew

    things drawn by hand are wonderful… making things 3d simply for the sake of it is an unfortunate trend, hopefully this thread will shake loose some of the dead wood (and crappy art directors) within the industry.

    that old commercial is really nice, they should just run it again… or make new good things.

  • http://www.bthoma.com/blog Ben

    The things that bothered are:

    1) in the original you could really tell that the turtle ‘never made it without biting’ but also has no teeth!

    2) the owl’s slow awakening (already mentioned)

    3) the alarm in the boy’s face that his tootsie pop is gone

    4) the movement from the tootsie pops when they get bitten into at the end

  • http://proggrrl.livejournal.com/ ProgGrrl

    GROAN

    The original is one of my alltime faves.
    That new one is seriously lame. Sad.

  • http://theanteheroes.com/ AstralFire

    The CGI remake might look bad, but honestly, I hate the original more. I really do. People complain about how they do intentionally bad animation these days and call it style? Yeah, that’s bad, but we have nothing on the 60′s.

  • Robyn

    I LOVE the idea of giving the audio track to other studios and giving them a whack at it! How cool would that be?

  • Chris

    Actually, as a commercial venture only, it works pretty well.

    CGI in general is an example of the emperor having no clothes, but I’m sure most of the geekery here wouldn’t agree. Just take a look at Fred Terral’s post above and then check out his website to see the hypocrisy of computer artists knocking pen and ink illustration…

  • dinosaur fossil

    CGI quality aside, this is an example where the target market is today’s youngsters and not those of us that grew up when this commercial was still on the air. Too many confuse “back in the day” with “better”.

  • http://www.brilliantisland.com Robert

    This was an imitation of “Over the Hedge”?

    I wonder how the Dreamworks people feel, knowing that this is what someone thought “Over the Hedge” looked like?

  • Wolf_Plushtoy

    I’ve got mixed feelings on this. Yes, it’s bad, but by sticking with the original soundtrack, they’re forced to stay faithful to the theme and tone of the original.

    The last time Tootsie Roll tried to re-visit the “How many licks” question by using CGI, was a mid-90s 30 second spot called “Monsters”:

    http://www.tootsie.com/monsters.html

    In that one, a Chromed Robot Skull and a Fire Breathing Dragon swipe not one, but two Tootsie Roll Pops from the kid, in a manner that shows pure malice and no interest in answering the question. They even exchange a set of self-congratulatory “We Bad!”s at the end. (Though that just may have been the scriptwriter’s covert admission that he knew that the company had requested crap.)

    The first one (and by re-use of the soundtrack, this third one) at least have some humanizing elements: Mr. Turtle’s admission of his own limitations, and Mr. Owl, a learned man of science, doing his best until he succumbs to temptation, and then providing the only answer he can give in an attempt to save face.

    Don’t get me wrong, both CGI commercials are horrid. This one is at least more faithful to the original than the one from the 90s.

  • Derek

    Watch when the boy approaches the owl. The owl looks like he’s FAR closer to the camera, when they’re supposed to be side by side. It takes the eyes a while to adjust to that “reality.” The problem is the owl is so large, and so detailed, that he projects forward, while the less detailed kid seems to fad into the background.

    The idea is not so bad (they kept the original audio, with the pretty creepy sounding end voiceover) and the art isn’t horrible (minus the detail discrepancies) but the animation is stilted and awful. The owl overacts his gestures, then omits the sideways glance. The boy looks dreadful. His walk is hilarious, like a windup toy.

  • Bill Field

    There are always good and bad examples of any animation media, be it 2D, Stop Mo, Computer, Pixilation, etc… I love the original, warts and all, but the Paul Winchell owl voice is awesome! This from the guy who REALLY invented the artificial heart, only to have it swiped by LIPITOR spokesman Dr Jarvick… But I digress, the good thing about the new version, you can analyze the soundtrack better, because you aren’t distacted by the great animation of the original!The wonderful thing about Paul Winchell’s is He was the only one!– Actually in trying to parody his famous Tigger line now, I got a tad choked up, because he was one of a kind and there ISN’T another like him.Wah-un! Tuh-oo! Thu-ree-CRUNCH! Three, it takes Three Licks. IT STILL CRACKS ME UP!!!!!

  • http://www.ulimeyer.com Uli Meyer

    I can’t read 84 comments and try to gel with the probably valuable things that have been said here. So all I will say for myself is that I think the whole thing stinks of everything everybody else has detected as wiffy before. I don’t like either of ‘em.

  • Anne

    That kid is absolutely hideous. Ew.

  • 1978

    “The general public approves”??! I’m sick of hearing that malarkey. The general public has, sure as I’m sitting here, lost the ability to tell sh*t from shinola. The kids won’t remember the original, so it’s okay to appeal to their dulled sensibilities with ugly crap? Horsefeathers! Such thinking only suits the suits who, if beauty and appeal are only subjective (“I like what I like!”) can get away with manufacturing sh*t, packaging it as shinola, and laughing all the way to the bank. Ever since I was a kid I’ve appreciated the appeal of a lot of things that came “before my time” as I’m sure most of you have. Rage, rage…

  • http://pupick.blogspot.com/ PCUnfunny

    “How many idiots does it take to ruin a charming and funny commerical? The world may never know. “

  • Peter Avanzino

    I always liked how the original commercial would show up on the air every 5 years or so. (It’s so great that I don’t think Tootsie-Pop ever bothered made another commercial for their product.)

    So I guess those days are over and we now have this to look forward to every few years? I’m sad.

    Anybody remember the “You, sir, are a cat. . .” kitty food commercials? Also great.

  • http://intracerswetrust.blogspot.com Dav-Odd

    I would like to add my outrage to the “general public approval” nonsense. When I was a kid growing up, I saw awful-looking commercials and hated them with a vicious passion!! This has nothing to do with nostalgia, and everything to do with decent ACTING and animation. Each of those hideous characters acts about as well as a typical nose-picking fourth grader who forgot to make a peepee stop. Random movements accompanying the soundtrack would have worked equally well or BETTER!! And the art direction has been addressed, so I won’t fulminate on color. Again, whose first school film is this? Like, really?

  • Rob

    I like how the owl just litters the wrapper! How’s that to confuse a little kid- you’ve got one owl telling you not to pollute and another throwing trash on the ground!

  • http://www.fooksie.com Fooksie

    Hi Ezra,
    I’m sorry that the remarks are so one-sided. Between you, me, and the lamp post, I have worked on many “polished turds ” for many a client. I don’t like the CGI version of this commercial, but I realize that fish gotta swim, birds gotta fly, and we all gotta make the money. As long as the client was happy, my opinion is just that, my opinion.

  • Ratsmith

    I notice that the character designs really aren’t that bad. But they are quite stiff. Not enough squash and stretch makes them seem a lot less ‘animated’ than one expects them to be. The owl for instance is is a pretty good throwback to the original owl and since owls are by nature very still creatures, he seems more at home with less squash and stretch.

    At the heart though in both cartoons, the voice acting is the largest appeal. Close your eyes and just listen to it once. You distinctly have the kid, the old guy, and the wise old guy. You don’t need animation to picture a kid, a turtle and an owl because the archetypes are so solid in the inflections of the voice acting.

    Personally, I think the same thing was going on in Hoodwinked. The characters were modeled ok, a little rough, but ok; and the animation itself was stiffly wooden and lacking in…well animation. In the final verdict though, the voice acting pulled you through the movie with at least some saving grace.

  • http://www.lakupo.com/grblitz ManekiNeko

    Oh, this is hardly new. The Tootsie Company released a computer rendered, “extreme” update to the “How Many Licks?” ad back in the late 1990′s. It starred a giant robot and a Godzilla-like dragon, and ended with the phrase “Oh yeah, we bad.” Yes, you sure are! It’s telling that I can’t find the commercial anywhere on YouTube… I doubt anyone has fond memories of it.

    Maybe these commercials will be a little more to your liking…
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p5ArngJz39c
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qayjR8Qbyfc

  • Mr. Semaj

    There was once a time when the guys at the Tootsie Roll company knew how to appeal to their audience.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qayjR8Qbyfc

    Sadly, they’ve now joined the long line of companies that enjoy pissing their consumers off with derivative crap. It seems the days where ANY manufacturer could talk TO their audience, and not down to them are disappearing fast.

  • Hooper

    I’ll begin by officially registering my horror, despair and outrage at the CGI version. Every criticism so far lobbed at it (overly – busy background, stiff ‘acting’, objects having no weight, etc) go double for me, and are indicative of what I can’t stand about *most* CGI.

    Now, then. Is it just me, or didn’t the original commercial use to be longer? If my ADD – riddled memory serves, wasn’t the turtle at *least* the *second* animal the kid goes to for advice??

  • http://lucidcircus.com Ezra

    I came back to see if anyone here had the courage of their convictions and actually took their own life rather than exist in a world where Tootsie Pop commercial remakes don’t live up to the original. Though I think anyone that serious would have already been pushing up the daisies following the last few Star Wars releases.

    Fooksie… thanks.

    Keep up the comments guys and gals. Good stuff.

    BTW, I have asked if I can pass out the audio track to the animating public. No word yet. Drop me a line if you would like to get your hands on it. I’d love to see what unfettered breathing creatives can come up with.

  • http://www.youtube.com/spiralmc michael castillo

    I thought it was good….jeez it’s just a commercial…i’ts good they used the same sound track…love the turtle’s voice…otherwise, i think it works…it’s pretty. Most people here are just CG haters. Art is art. It looks pretty.

  • http://www.bishopanimation.com Floyd Bishop

    Ezra: Don’t sweat it. All that matters was if the client was happy and the check cleared. I’ve worked on some less than stellar, client steered projects before, and I know there are always “could have been betters” that haunt the production crew after the project delivers. Take the crits as just that and keep them in the back of your brain for next time.

  • bobservo

    Ezra – you made a work for the public; they have the right to criticize it. You also have the right to make fun of the public for this, but it makes you sound very, very bitter. We all know you made this commercial to please “the suits,” but that doesn’t make it any less of a piece of garbage.

  • dcuny

    I felt the same nostalgia and outrage as many of the other viewers. I agree with most of the points people have made – on both sides.

    But repeated viewings of the new commercial have convinced me that while it’s flaws are real, it’s not nearly as bad as I initially thought.

    When I showed the two commercials to my kids and asked which they liked better, my 4 year old daughter picked the CGI version, because she immediately noticed the Tootsie Pop was pink.

    My 7 year old daughter also immediately picked the CGI version. “It’s got more color”, she explained.

    My 9 year old son said they’re both OK.

    My 11 year old son was a lot more hesitant (probably trying to guess what I wanted him to say) before announced that he liked the original because in the CGI version “the turtle was creepy.”

    So I don’t think the current generation will be crushed by this new commercial.

    As for kids not being able to tell sh*t from shinola, my recollection on seeing the original commercial as a kid was that I thought it felt cheap, with very limited motion – something I’d expect to see on Sesame Street, not a professional commercial. I didn’t particularly like the kid’s design with his butt sticking out, or his sour-pickle expression at the end.

    Dang, I was a little pill as a kid. (Probably still am, too).

    That commercial seemed to get a lot of airplay, which reinforced my impression that the Tootsie Pop folk were too cheap to pay for another commercial.

    Nostalgia is a funny thing, because today seeing the commercial gives me warm fuzzies, and I now appreciate the finer points of the animation.

    Go figure.

  • http://lucidcircus.com Ezra

    bobo – I’m not at all bitter. I’m loving all the attention and having a little fun with it. The saccharine comments on youtube were getting boring. I can’t take this seriously. I’ve worked with kids who sound identical to the posters here. I had to explain to them too that we work for a pay-cheque, not for arts sake.

    Winge away!

    When you guys get old enough to do work for money… you’ll understand. :)

    Meanwhile, no one has shown interest in doing their own version. I’m disappointed. Come on… I too would like to see this commercial done better.

  • http://gamingotherstuff.wordpress.com BJ Wanlund

    I actually like the CG version.

    Thanks Ezra for fixing something I seriously thought was incredibly creepy from my childhood. It actually seems much better than it was.

    At least it was a better re-imagining than Double Dare going to the god-awful Double Dare 2000.

  • http://www.bigblurdesign.com Jay

    Fishing for something positive…

    …I liked the way the owl wiggles his toes in pleasure at the first lick. That’s a nice addition to the idea.

    The texture on the turtle’s shell is nice, too.

    And yes, the audio cleanup is slick.

  • Rick

    Ezra, why would we want to make our own version? I can’t speak for anyone else, but time isn’t easy to come by. You did what you could with whatever limits the client put on you. That’s all there is to it. The original was just as bad imo.

  • Bernard

    Actually, the original cartoon advertisement is still shown on some TV channels.

    I saw it a week ago.

    So, I don’t think the CGI will “replace” the classic.

  • Stephanie

    I just love how that last shot of the Tootsie Pop shows the word “Artificial” on the wrapper.

    Ha!

  • http://lucidcircus.com Ezra

    Steph – truth in advertising. :)

    Bernard – good point. this wasn’t to replace so much as to appeal to the younger generation.

    Rick – indeed. i don’t actually expect people to work for free but I am pushing the agency on this “make your own” idea. nothing original, it’s the same thing as this make your own Absolut commercial http://www.lucidcircus.com/Absolut/ from a few years back.

    Jay – thanks. i was especially proud of how good the audio came out. we started with a dusty old beta tape.

    BJ – thanks!

  • Steve Carras

    The ORIGINAL had a cow (voiced by Frank Nelson) and a fox (Paul Frees doing his old Peter Lorre impression) and aired in 1969. It was a full minute. I remember it. You can see it on YouTube.

    Paul Winchell’s had a LOT of injustice (Disney changing his voice to Jim C——ngs as Tigger and pairing that tiger with “Darby” and Pooh, for one).

  • http://cartoonbrew ricardo

    Well Steve Carras I think you are right because Paul frees aired in 1969 and I think it take”s about one full minute.

  • Sissi

    I JUST FINISHED COUNTING!!!

    But I’ll keep it a mystery for the sake of the Tootsie Industries… ;D

  • http://www.stumbleupon.com/imp_teaser Imp Teaser

    Ezra- you say you would like to see this done better. Fine- check out the ORIGINAL original- posted by the ORIGINAL artist himself. No, the original was NOT in black & white, but the set you watched it on may have been… oh, forgot it was that long ago, hunh?
    It’s on Youtube, along with the above version, and yours, and several others.
    Do a search for “Mr. Cow”
    THAT’S the original.
    Again- Thanks, Jerry, for the memories, AND the vindication!
    (Now if I could just remember who all didn’t believe me when I told them there were more than just the turtle and the owl.)

  • samantha hursey

    i just counted and it takes 330 LICKS TO GET TO THE CENTER I WANNA KNOW IF YOU CAN GET RICH OF THAT CUZ IF SOO THAT WOULD BE AWESOME YOU KNOW!!!!!!!XD