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Mr. Clean In His Most Disturbing Appearance Yet

Speaking of cartoon mascots, this head-scratching take on Mr. Clean was concocted by Leo Burnett’s Toronto office and directed by Pete Riski at Sons and Daughters. While the ad isn’t noteworthy from either an animation or technical perspective, I’m oddly fascinated by how thoroughly creepy, stiff and unappealing they’ve managed to make this character. Perhaps that was the point.

  • mapache

    I waited untill the end to see if he also broke General Zod’s neck.

    • Chris Sobieniak

      That would’ve been great!

      • the Gee

        I dunno.
        He’d have to be careful to not make a mess of things.

  • Tim

    Awww man I REALLY wanted him to start erasing the equations off the chalkboard and scrub the pictographs off the stone! Mr Clean as an OCD nuisance!

  • Yoram Benz

    I dunno, it looks intentional to me. Looking at the overall production value of the live action it seems they might have tried to keep Mr Clean close to the art on the products rather than translate him realistically. It does leave room for production misinterpretation.

  • FameFamine

    [Comment removed by editors. Per our commenting guidelines, “Stay on-topic. Comments are not a place to post random thoughts or discuss ideas not directly related to the post.” The topic of this post is Mr. Clean.]

  • Roberto Severino

    I watched the commercial again and liked the message, but I still can’t help to think that Mr. Clean sort of looks out of place. Other people in here have raised valid points.

  • Inkan1969

    The detail that bothered me was that there’s no indication in the commercial that Mr. Clean was ever a sailor. Wasn’t that the original concept of Mr. Clean: that he was the sailor who swabs the deck? And that was why he has the earring?

    • otterhead

      The original concept of Mr Clean is, well, Yul Brynner from The King and I. He was literally ripped off from that movie, which was very big at the time. (source: I worked for P&G marketing)

  • Sketchyplace

    Why not have live actors do the character? Seems like redundant use of technology.

  • the Gee

    “You’ll believe a man can stay indoors, all day long, cleaning, and still maintain his tan”—if this were a tagline for a movie…

    Amid always has and always will have His Moments. And, yeah, it would be nice to get some word on WHY and more info on the commercial. So an interview would be nice but you watched the piece. Tell me that is something you wouldn’t want people to watch because of how weird it is.

    Anyway, when he says the CG character is “creepy, stiff and unappealing”, he’s not wrong. If the entire commercial contained nothing but CG characters, it would have been more acceptable. Well, the chances are good it would not be as odd if that were the case.

    But, for whatever the reason the mixed live action with the CG, it looks just *that much* odd and then other times it looks very odd. I’ll agree with Brett Wharton (below) and with Yoram Benz (below) by saying you can’t take your eyes off of the main character and that might may just be the point where it worked well for the agency and for the client.

    It’s a bizarre concept, one which you almost don’t expect to have been conceived with seriousness in mind. So, for that reason alone, Amid probably felt compelled to share.

  • Since when has Mr. Clean not been creepy?

  • Tooney

    So THATS where the internet’s Dancing Baby comes from!

  • Animator606432

    God good, I saw this on television and I literally said “Ewww” out loud. I understand that there is a lot of unnecessary CG bashing on this site. However, that….Thing just looks horrifying. To me anyway.
    If this was intentional…I don’t really understand why. I mean, I thought the point of mascots were to make them appealing to the viewer not uncomfortable.

  • GW

    I’ll be glad to get to the point when people talk about how they can’t tell computer animated humans from real people. This really isn’t all that uncanny, just corny.

  • Daniel J. Drazen

    As soon as I saw him as a kid I was like “Wait, what?” It was almost like they kidnapped the young Cain from “Kung Fu” and spirited him away to suburbia.

  • Tony

    BEAUTIFUL call there. Positioning Mr Clean as the clean up crew for superhero collateral damage should be the sequel to this ad.

    • the Gee

      That would be good comic relief.
      After a harsh fight scene, the camera stays on the shot, then suddenly this bald man furiously pushes a mop around while huffing and puffing, like a guy who mops up the court at a basketball game.

  • Tony

    I’m usually the first the decry poor CG design and implementation in live action, but honestly I think this ad works perfectly. I’m not entire sure whether it wants to be a joke or utterly serious, and I LOVE that uncertainty. It’s clearly a riff on Man Of Steel whilst having a tongue-in-cheek attitude towards itself. I think they’re fully aware that they’re making something silly, and I completely bought into it and loved it. It felt fun. The ONLY point about the animation I’d add is that when he leaves his parents, his face already looks around 50yrs old.
    It surprises me that you’re saying the ad isn’t noteworthy in animation, as I found it’s execution very well done indeed. The implementation and compositing was tight as well as self-aware, and the character animation itself was nicely restrained. While it may have lacked a little subtle nuance, I didn’t see this hurting the visual at all. In fact, I find this ad really QUITE noteworthy in that it’s trying a new tact – constantly reminding you that you’re NOT seeing a real person appears to be the goal, and that is definitely an interesting objective in a world of ever-more-desperate CG implementation.

    All in all, I think this is a very well executed, cleverly written ad, completely overshooting the uncanny valley because they didn’t appear to be aiming for photo-realism, they wanted silly bizarre and nailed it. I personally would like to see more in this series, almost as a deconstruction of superhero origin stories and the whole nature of film franchises.

  • no need for cg here…coulda/shoulda been actors

  • Chris Powell

    liked this!

  • otterhead

    I’m baffled as to why he’s even animated. This ad would have been a hundred times funnier if they’d had real little bald kids running around in Mr. Clean outfits, rather than creepily animated ones.

    And wow, they made him look OLD. He used to be a manly pirate sort of fellow, but now he’s in his 60s? 70s?

    I worked with P&G marketing when they decided to remove his earring to avoid any possible ‘connotations’. Sigh.

  • ElComadreja

    This “new look” Mr. Clean codes gay with a vengeance. There’s even one ad where he’s in a biker bar drinking a “girly” drink with an umbrella and a straw. He’s a sissy.

  • ElComadreja

    Back in the day, Mr. Clean was big, strong and tough. This new Mr. Clean is a skinny pushover. A dress is the next step for this loser.