Other TV Appearances of the Looney Tunes Characters
Written by Jon Cooke


Commercials:


In addition to their numerous regular series and specials, Warner Brothers' classic cartoon characters have over the years made countless appearances on television in other capacities.

The first, and perhaps hardest to keep track of, would be their appearances on television commercials. In the days of The Bugs Bunny Show, hosts Bugs and Daffy would promote their sponsor, Post Cereals, by promising that viewers could, "start the day a little bit better," with a big bowl of cereal from Post.

In the 1990s, Post's rival company, Kellogg's, has used Bugs to promote its Raisin Bran cereal. With his classic woodland confrontation with hunter Elmer Fudd, Bugs appears in a commercial for Kellogg's Raisin Bran, as do the Road Runner and Wile E. Coyote in their own thirty-second ad. These two commercials end in the same way: Bugs and the Road Runner both manage to extend themselves out of a television screen to eat a boy's bowl of Raisin Bran right under his nose as he is laughing at their antics with their classic foe (Fudd, Wile E.) on screen.

Bugs appeared in ads for Kool-Aid for quite awhile during the late 1960s and early 1970s. These commercials were done by none other than Tex Avery! In Joe Adamson's book, Tex Avery: King of Cartoons (1975), Avery told Adamson in a 1971 interview that, "We've been doing Bugs Bunny Kool-Aids for six or seven years, and when they started doing those the agency people said, 'Wonder if Avery can draw Bugs Bunny.'"

Through the 1970s and 1980s, Bugs and the other Looney Tunes characters were used in many commercials. Bugs appeared in an ad for the Yellow Pages, Sylvester promoted 9 Lives cat food, Foghorn Leghorn and Henery Hawk were featured in spots for Kentucky Fried Chicken in 1987, and Wile E. Coyote appeared in an ad for Purolator Courier in the same year. Bugs has even come to the aid of the Trix Rabbit for Trix Cereal in a couple of ads. The Honey Nut Cheerios Bee interrupted a Coyote/Road Runner chase in one ad, so the little bee could give Wile E. a bowl of the sweetened cereal, and to the viewer's surprise, Wile E. preferred Honey Nut Cheerios to the Road Runner! Tang, Hershey's Chocolates, and other companies also had the Warner Brothers' cartoon characters appear in their commercials.

The popularity of the characters as commercial stars grew in the late 1980s and into the 1990s. In the early 1990s, Bugs Bunny and Marvin Martian appeared in a couple of popular spots for Nike shoes, along with Michael Jordan (with whom they would team again in the 1996 feature, Space Jam). The Looney Tunes gang even did an ad for Welch's Jelly to promote a series of jars with their likenesses on them. A few years ago, Wile E. Coyote appeared in ads trying to catch the Engergizer Bunny and in a commercial for Pepsi-Cola. The gang also appeared in a spot to advertise the new Kraft Macaroni and Cheese shaped like the Looney Tunes stars. Elmer Fudd was even used in a commercial to promote lawn tractors and equipment!

The characters have been used several times to promote fast food restaurants. McDonald's has used the Warner Brothers' cartoon characters for occasional prizes inside their Happy Meals, and the characters appeared in the commercials to advertise the prizes. The first of these was a set of Super Looney Tunes figures in which Daffy, Tasmanian Devil, Bugs, and Petunia Pig were dressed as popular D.C. Comics Superheroes (e.g. Batman, Superman). This was followed by a set of Looney Tunes Quack-Up Cars with an ad that featured Bugs, Tasmanian Devil, Daffy, and Porky Pig. McDonald's has also used ads combining the characters with various sports stars, ads that showed the characters playing basketball and later football to tie-in with a series of plastic cups the restaurants were selling. Kentucky Fried Chicken used Foghorn Leghorn in 1987, and more recently (1994), KFC offered a set of Looney Tunes mugs, with an ad containing a clip from "Devil May Hare" (e.g. "I smell chicken.").

In 1995, the WB Television Network was launched, and new animation was made for various advertisements with network mascot Michigan J. Frog ("One Froggy Evening").

Holiday, 1996 saw the characters in a few more ads. In a commercial for Visa Card, Daffy Duck is at a Warner Brothers Studio Store with a huge pile of merchandise to buy, all of which is Daffy-related, of course. The clerk says, "Wow! Daffy Duck!", but refuses to take Daffy's check without proper ID. Just then, Bugs burrows through the floor to purchase a Bugs Bunny coffee mug. His purchase is more successful because he carries the Visa Check Card with ID as part of the card.

Also, for the 1996 Holidays, a series of ads for Target Stores were made. One of them promotes a Thanksgiving sale, with Daffy, Porky, and Foghorn Leghorn debating which is the right kind of meat to eat on Thanksgiving. "Everybody knows it's ham for the holidays!" says Daffy as he points to a chart. "N-n-no....it's t-t-tur-t-chicken!" argues Porky, to which Foggy responds, "Now boy, I resemble that remark!". Another had Wile E. Coyote chasing the Road Runner, but only to have Wile E. run into a Christmas tree (why a pine tree is growing in the desert is anyone's guess), and yet another Target ad featured a typical Sylvester and Tweety chase.

The final Target ad mixed live action with animation as a band arrives in a bus to perform at the Looney Tunes Holiday Party. At the party, the regular Warner Brothers cartoon chaos is taking place: Elmer is chasing Bugs, Sylvester is chasing Tweety, Wile E. Coyote is chasing the Road Runner, Taz is chasing Daffy, Yosemite Sam is wrecking the place, and the barnyard dog is heckling Foghorn Leghorn. As soon as country singer LeAnn Rimes starts to sing, the characters literally stop in their tracks and start to dance with the music, and the foes are now friends (at least for the rest of this commercial). This ad also featured brief appearances from Witch Hazel, Pepe Le Pew, Penelope the Cat, Speedy Gonzales, Porky Pig, Sam Sheepdog, Miss Prissy, the Crusher, and the Three Bears!

Another animated commercial from this period appeared on the QVC cable shopping network. Bugs and Daffy are doing their Rabbit Season/Duck Season routine, and Elmer appears to have figured out what "Season" it really it is: shopping season!

In 1998, the Road Runner and Wile E. Coyote appeared in a commercial which premiered during the Super Bowl. It starts with their regular chase, but then Wile E. realizes that he could better catch up with his prey by driving a new car ! The Coyote almost does catch Road Runner, but the ad ends and the Road Runner is safe!

Public Service Announcements:


In the 1970s, two public service announcements on household safety were made, one with Bugs, the other with Daffy. The one with Bugs told kids not to touch boiling pots (a boiling pot with eyes talks in a distinct Mel Blanc voice) and to be wary of power plugs (one of which slithers like a snake and talks with a hiss). The one with Daffy has to do with fire procedure, that is what kids should do if they find themselves in a house on fire.

During the late 1980s, ABC aired educational spots during broadcasts of The Bugs Bunny and Tweety Show. These short segments told children about American history and the Constitution. "The Constitution works for Everyone" was the theme of one, affirming the freedom of the individual to succeed or (showing the Coyote falling off of Mount Rushmore) to fail. Another one featured Porky and Petunia Pig. Petunia tells Porky how she wants to be the President of the United States. Porky laughs and tells her that there can't be a female President. Petunia proves him wrong.

In 1992, to accord with Tweety's fiftieth birthday, it was announced that there would be a TV series based on a Tweety's Global Patrol concept. Although there was no series, the idea was used for a couple of public service announcements in which Tweety urges the audience (and a certain putty tat) to Reduce, Reuse, and Recycle.

Other TV Appearances:


Not all of the miscellaneous appearances of the Looney Tunes cast have been in sponsor or public service spots. They have also been seen on various television shows over the years. If you thought Speedy Gonzales and Daffy Duck made a bad pair, then you haven't heard of the 1972 TV special, Daffy Duck and Porky Pig Meet the Groovie Goolies. Warner Brothers leased Daffy and Porky to Filmation Studios for this hour-long special that teamed the beloved Duck and Pig with the Groovie Goolies, a group of characters who resembled the old monster movie creatures (Count Dracula, Frankie, Bella La Ghosty, Wolfie, etc.). The special premiered on ABC Dec. 16, 1972 on The ABC Saturday Superstar Movie, the home of such other ridiculous animated specials as The Brady Kids on Mysterious Island, Lassie and the Spirit of Thunder Mountain, That Girl in Wonderland, and The Banana Splits in Hocus Pocus Park.

During the 1970s, Chuck Jones directed a series of segments for the PBS series, The Electric Company, featuring the Road Runner and Wile E. Coyote. In one segment, Wile E. saw signs with commands reading: "Slow", "Walk", "Hop", "Skip", "Crawl", and finally, "Run." He obeyed all the signs, doing as each instructed. When he saw the road coming to a dead end, blocked by a sign that said, "Jump", he jumped and went over the sign and off a cliff too. Just before he fell off the cliff, he saw one more sign on the cliff's edge: "Fall!"

In another one of these clips, he fell ten thousand feet, of course, and landed in a muddy lake, where a sign there said, "Splash!" In another of these segments, he fell ten thousand feet and landed on a strategically placed trampoline. A sign next to the trampoline said, "Bounce." So, he bounced and landed onto another trampoline. And another one. And another, and another, and another, leading over the horizon. Finally, we saw the Road Runner, standing and watching all this, with a bunch of signs grouped over his shoulder. He was the one who had placed the signs in the Coyote's path! He turned and saw one final sign that said, "Beep." So, he did. "Beep, beep!"

Sam Sheepdog and Ralph Wolf punched a time clock as they arrived for work each day; likewise, another Electric Company segment with the Road Runner began with the Coyote and Road Runner coming to a starting line and preparing for the signal that would send them off on another day of chasing. A traffic light rang a bell and flashed, "Ready". The two characters hunched down... Then, "Get set". They tensed their muscles... A bell sounded, and the Coyote took off like a rocket. But the Road Runner did not; he was still standing at the starting line. He whistled to the Coyote and called him back. Wile E. looked at the traffic light, and it wasn't saying, "Go." Instead, the light started flashing a series of commands like "Laugh," "Cry," "Scream," etc.. The Coyote followed all these commands, going faster and faster, into a rapid-fire series of facial expressions and sudden mood changes, until finally, we saw that the traffic light commands were being operated by the Road Runner.

On April 20, 1990, a TV special called Cartoon All-Stars to the Rescue was broadcast as a public service on the three major U.S. networks, PBS, some 200 independent stations, and numerous cable services. The half-hour, commercial-free show had a message of, "just say no to drugs." The plot involved a drug-using teenager learning the dangers of drug use from nearly twenty Saturday morning stars, including Bugs and Daffy, Garfield, the Muppet Babies, the Chipmunks, Winnie the Pooh, the Smurfs, Huey, Dewey, Louie, Alf, and others.

Other television shows had the Looney Tunes characters as guest stars. For instance, Pat Paulsen's Half a Comedy Hour guest starred Daffy Duck on January 22, 1970.



The Academy Awards had Bugs on stage on three occasions to present the Oscar for Best Animated Short Subject. In 1987, he awarded it with Tom Hanks and returned again in 1990. In 1994 Bugs presented the award with Daffy Duck!

The classic characters have even had guest appearances on recent Warner Brothers Animated programs. Tiny Toon Adventures (1990) made frequent use of the classic characters in cameo appearances, as the Looney Tunes gang were supposed to be the teachers to a new generation of cartoon characters. Bugs, Daffy, Porky, Tasmanian Devil, Foghorn Leghorn, Sylvester, Tweety, Road Runner, Pepe Le Pew, Granny, the Three Bears, Charlie Dog, Bosko and Honey, Egghead Jr., Michigan J. Frog, Speedy Gonzales, Marvin Martian, Elmer Fudd, Yosemite Sam, Gossamer, the Gremlin (from "Falling Hare"), and Wile E. Coyote all made appearances on the show. One memorable episode involved Bugs tutoring Buster Bunny on dance steps, using footage of Bugs' wacky dance in "Hot Cross Bunny" (the one he does just before the bespectacled doctor hits him with a mallet). Buster duplicates this dance at a party with his girl, Babs. Another episode used references to the Oscar-winning cartoon, "Knighty Knight Bugs", in a plot about Bugs being kidnaped by a jealous rival for the Oscar for Best Animated Short.

The next show from Warner Brothers Television Animation, Taz-Mania (1991), starred the Tasmanian Devil, but some of his old Looney Tunes co-stars would make brief appearances in the show's run. They included Bugs, Daffy, Yosemite Sam, Sam Sheepdog, and Marvin Martian.

Animaniacs (1994) had a few cartoons with some of the classic characters making guest appearances. In one short about a garage sale (where Yakko, Wakko, and Dot believe a garage is being sold!), Papa Bear is seen as the vendor. An episode, "The Warners' 65th Anniversary Special", features interviews with the major Warner Brothers cartoon stars, and their feelings about Yakko, Wakko, and Dot. Bugs, Daffy, Porky, Tweety, Yosemite, and Foghorn all share their memories. Even 1930s Looney Tunes star Buddy had a role in this episode. In other episodes, the Coyote and Road Runner have appeared. So has Michigan J. Frog. One short, "Critical Condition", starts with clips from "Duck Amuck", "What's Opera, Doc?", and "Porky in Wackyland". A Pinky and the Brain short on Animaniacs was set in Victorian London and involved Brain's plot to stop the gears of Big Ben by metamorphosing into a hulky brute at the opportune time. He does so by means of formula from Dr. Jekyll's lab. An early scene of Jekyll drinking his potion and becoming Hyde, features the Jekyll from "Hyde and Go Tweet".

Many minor characters (like Red Riding Hood, Colonel Rimfire, Hippety Hopper, and Hubie and Bertie) have shown up on The Sylvester and Tweety Mysteries (1995).

Finally, on Freakazoid (1995), one cartoon in a parody of E.T. had Freakazoid explaning to a dopey alien the most important things to remember while on Earth. One of them, he explains, while watching a clip from "Whoa Be-Gone!": "Don't ever try to catch a Road Runner. It's impossible!"

Reader Comments:


Jon:
Congratulations for your wonderful site. It's the best resource font I found about WB cartoons. Keep the good work. And, you may be interested, here some Looney Tunes appearances in commercials for the Brazilian market:

Neto Andrade (baneto@cwbone.bsi.com.br)



All images and characters (c) Warner Bros.
Images of Bugs Bunny at the 1994 Academy Awards from James & Alan Rice's Animation Page
Image from Bugs Bunny Post Cereal Commercial from Toon Tracker's RealAudio Page 2

Sources:
    Tex Avery: King of Cartoons by Joe Adamson
    Cartoon Confidential by Jim Korkis and John Cawley
    Of Mice and Magic by Leonard Maltin
    The alt.animation.warner-bros Newsgroup (mostly for the Electric Company infomation).


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