NEW YORK — Kool-Aid is unveiling a new look for its big red mascot, as the powdered drink brand looks to refresh its image and tout a new liquid mix.
The Kool-Aid Man, known for busting through walls and his “Oh yeah!” tagline, will now be computer-generated and take on the personality of a celebrity trying to show he's just a normal guy. In past ads, the character was played by an actor in foam costume and had little to say or do besides crashing through a wall with a big smiley face.
The campaign comes as Kool-Aid plays up its liquid mix, which debuted in January and recently reached national distribution. The new mix reflects a push by Kraft Foods to adjust to changing tastes and replicate the success of its liquid flavor enhancer called MiO.
In 2012, the brand's U.S. sales were down 5 percent to $338 million, according to the market researcher Euromonitor International. That was following a 4 percent drop the previous year.
The powdered drink was invented in Hastings, Neb., in 1927 by Edwin Perkins. The Kool-Aid Man, meanwhile, made his first appearance in 1954 and has taken on various looks through the years. Kraft says his last big makeover was in 2000.
Erica Rendall, senior brand manager at Kraft Foods Group Inc., says the new ads are intended to fill in the blanks in Kool-Aid Man's character so people can relate to him.
“He said a few things here and there (in the past), but he really didn't have a developed personality,” she said.
In one of the new commercials, the scene opens with the character's round silhouette behind a shower curtain. When he steps out, he's a clear pitcher of water and he explains in a voiceover that his life isn't all “cherry and sweetness.”
“I put my pants on one leg at a time,” the voiceover notes, as he stands in front of a pantry full of Kool-Aid mixes deciding what to wear. “Except my pants are 22 different flavors. I've got grape pants, I've got watermelon pants.”