A mouse makeover is coming.
No not Mickey.
It’s Chuck E.
Chuck E. Cheese.
It appears that the company has a new ad agency, a new ad campaign and a new look for the rodent – more of a punk rocker with a guitar than an innocent place for kids. And in some respects, the idea of looking cool has now been used to appeal to tweens (children ages 9 to 12).
Previously, the cartoon image was very sports oriented – with bright green, yellow and purple jersey and baseball cap, Chaz looked as if he was ready to ride a bike, or shred on a skateboard. Now, the design is (frighteningly) more lifelike – despite the tee-shirt, electric guitar, jeans and funky-like bowling shoes. It seems to me that the coloring, raised eyebrows, and long tail makes this image so less cartoony and I would think slightly more sinister for kids. Rock n’roll over sports is one thing, food, fun and rodents is kind of another.
But the heritage of the chain bears out this image. TIME reports that it was Atari founder Nolan Bushnell who launched the chain; other reports suggest that he created the original mascot, a rat in a hat sporting a cane. The idea of “Rick Rat’s Pizza” was considered – but ultimately eliminated by a PR firm.
Now, approximately 35 years later, the character’s look will be accompanied by a new voice as well -- Jaret Reddick, of the band Bowling for Soup.
So in an attempt to end slowing sales and revamp the image of the restaurant for a new generation of skee-ball enthusiasts, just wait and see if this new and improved icon and ad campaign will resonate among the middle school students among us. It should be quick – either it will trend with their interests or be ignored like the old Barbies and Hot Wheels in their rooms at home.