StarKist's beloved Charlie® the Tuna swam into the hearts of consumers five decades ago and now is celebrating 50 years of good taste! Just in time for Valentine's Day and American Heart Month, Jillian Harris, designer on ABC's "Extreme Makeover: Home Edition" and former star of ABC's "The Bachelorette," will join Charlie in the heart of New York City--Times Square--on February 11th to help America's most recognized spokes-tuna celebrate his big 5-0 and heart health!
"You can't help but feel nostalgic when you hear someone say 'Sorry Charlie,'" says Joe Tuza, SVP, Marketing. "Charlie is, without a doubt, a true pop culture icon to those who grew up with him and for those who are just getting to know him. This milestone provides a unique opportunity to celebrate the heritage and trust of the StarKist brand in a fun and lighthearted way--true to Charlie's style."
Charlie Gets 'Kist for His Birthday
The former "Bachelorette," Jillian Harris, is an expert in matters of the heart. "I've kissed a lot of toads, but I've finally found my fish," she said jokingly. "I'm excited to be here in New York to help Charlie celebrate his 50th birthday with a special birthday smooch and to raise awareness of heart health!"
Jillian and Charlie will co-host the birthday festivities on Military Island in Times Square from 11AM-4PM on February 11th. Consumers will have the opportunity to interact with the beloved icon and reality star through exciting games, free giveaways and photo opportunities. The focal point of the event will be an onstage "Most Extreme Elimination Birthday Challenge" game show. Participants, chosen at random, will have the opportunity to compete in a series of birthday-themed challenges for a chance to win Charlie's special birthday smooch and $500.
What's a birthday without cake? To top off the day in a sweet way, the confectionary crew at Carlos' Bakery from TLC's hit show "Cake Boss" will be creating a commemorative cake, which will be presented to Charlie as Jillian leads the crowd in singing him "Happy Birthday."
Finally, joining a prestigious list of many other distinguished personalities who have turned 50, Charlie will be presented with his official AARP card to mark the momentous day.
Pucker-up and Show Your Heart Some Love
Everyone knows February for Valentine's Day but it is also American Heart Month--the perfect time to show your heart some love and eat healthier. The Omega-3 fatty acids that are found in tuna and other oily fish are an important part of a heart healthy diet. The American Heart Association recommends that Americans eat two servings of fatty fish, like tuna, each week. Many studies have found that people who eat fish two or more times a week may have a lower risk of heart disease.
Charlie won't be the only one getting a smooch at his 50th celebration: fans will have the chance to make their best "fish-kiss" pucker, to be projected on the infamous New York City Reuters JumboTron. For every "fish-kiss" photo snapped, StarKist will make a donation to the American Heart Association (with a maximum donation of $10,000).
Charlie's 50 Years of Good Taste
StarKist is also celebrating the brand's milestone in Charlie's hometown of Pittsburgh, PA. Charlie's 50 years of history is being brought to life in a dedicated exhibit at the animation museum, The ToonSeum, which showcases the art of cartooning.
Created in 1961, StarKist's Charlie the Tuna was the brain-fish of notable character creators Tom Rogers and the Leo Burnett agency. StarKist hired the duo to develop a brand icon strategy to establish StarKist's iconic quality image. "Charlie's red beret, trendy glasses and cool mannerisms have made him a pop culture icon, who brings about a comforting sense of nostalgia," says animation historian Joe Wos, Executive Director of the ToonSeum.
Initial character designs for animation were done by the legendary director and animator Chuck Jones of Warner Brothers. However, the designs didn't quite capture the modern bold line and look needed for Charlie's persona. DePatie-Freleng Studios, the creative animation studio behind the Pink Panther, was selected to bring Charlie to life. When the commercial debuted in 1961, Charlie was an instant hit, going on to star in more than 80 commercials.
While Charlie never actually uttered the popular phrase, "Sorry Charlie," he did have a catch phrase of his own: "Tell 'em Charlie sent ya." Both phrases entered the American lexicon and are among the most recognized taglines in advertising history.