World’s best ads ever #53: Energizer drains power from rival with ‘Escape of the Bunny’
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When Energizer released ‘Escape of the Bunny’ it had no idea it was drumming up a creative platform that would erode a rival’s unique brand assets and last for decades.
DDB Needham Worldwide created the character E.B. (Energizer Bunny), one of the world’s longest-lasting mascots (in every respect). The pink robot rabbit is known for his sunglasses, drum and flip-flops. The idea was so powerful that the agency worked with Energizer for 20 years.
However, it was TBWA\Chiat\Day that launched the ads that would solidify the idea in 1988 with ‘Escape of the Bunny’. E.B. was created to parody the Duracell bunny that preceded it by 15 years. The very existence of a second pink battery robot rabbit sparked a legal war, one of the fiercest in advertising. E.B. was younger, hipper and sassier, he couldn’t be any more 90s despite being a child of the 80s – technically.
The work references a famous Duracell ad showing a dozen drumming bunnies, powered by other battery brands. Energizer responds with the line: ‘Energizer wasn’t invited to the play-offs because nothing outlasts the Energizer. We keep going and going and going and go…’.
This ad came from rival the Dancer Fitzgerald Sample advertising agency, which was merged into the Saatchi & Saatchi network in 1987.
The Energizer Bunny ascended from a quick joke to an icon that eroded the market share of rival Duracell. The ad was intended as a one-off but the initial popularity saw it forge ahead with the in-transit bunny interrupting other scenes like a fancy tea party, as well as interrupting coffee drinking and nasal spray insertion in a campaign devised by rival Chiat/Day/Mojo.
Dave Park, president of the Los Angeles office of DDB Needham, said at the time: “I hate to say it, but while our Chicago office launched the rabbit, they never figured out the best thing to do with it. This year, Chiat\Day did better work than I can ever remember them doing.”
A real-life prop of the bunny was created by All Effects to operate in the ads via remote control. That outfit is best known for effects on Short Circuit, The Blob (1988) and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles III).
And good ideas, like good batteries, never die. In 2016, Camp+King, newly assigned to the Energizer account, brought E.B. back with the help of VFX specialist The Mill.
E.B. has appeared in more than 115 ads over three decades.