The Creepy Cable Cartoon Guy
The other day we got digital cable. Cox Communications, our cable company (motto: "Now You're Living") sent us a cable guy (motto: "Surliness is Next to Godliness") who, despite our inexhaustible flow of small talk and well-intentioned Jim Carrey impressions, seemed eager to get the installation done and get out of our house as soon as possible. To that end, he plugged in a new box, connected wires, crouched behind the TV talking on his cellphone in Spanish, snipped wires, grunted occasionally, and left us with hundreds of channels, including no less than 7 HBO channels that we don't get! Thanks, Cox! Now we are living, and not a moment too soon.
The cable guy left something more behind him besides memories and the opportunity to live. He left a three-page foldout flyer listing all our new stations and detailing the advantages of Cox Digital Cable. What are these advantages, you may ask? Who cares. The point is, the flyer also bore a picture of Cox's cartoon mascot, the Cox Cartoon Technician.
There's something disturbing about the Cox Cartoon Technician. In a world of corporate icons, he doesn't seem to fit in. Gone are the smooth lines, the solid colors, and, most of all, the reassuring sexlessness of, say, McDonald's Ronald McDonald or Microsoft's Bill Gates. The Cox guy is a pencil study, and the prevailing mood can best be described as "halfwit desire." Not, perhaps, the most reassuring image for a company that sends people into your homes.
On the front of the pamphlet, The Cox Cartoon Technician (or "Creepy") is pictured lying langorously on a digital cable, fingering himself lovingly and staring at us with an expression of glazed and imbecile contentment. He doesn't appear to be working. He's certainly not installing any cable. He's lounging in a position which doesn't really suggest that he's proclaiming the advantages of "Digital picture and sound on your existing TV!" or telling us to "Enjoy over 200 channel choices!" More than anything, one suspects that he is saying "Come and get it!"
I mean, come on. Look what he's doing with his foot.
Here's another picture of "Creepy", which can be found on the fold between the middle and rightmost page of the pamphlet. Here, he wears the same look of blank ecstasy, and his body language is still disturbingly sexual. He seems confused about whether his role is as a friendly corporate icon or as a sexy, sexy girl. He's opted to go with the latter. Note the classic "hand-on-hip, hand-on-head" pinup pose and the Basic Instinct leg positioning.
It's enough to send chills up one's spine, and it makes me wonder whether I'm reading too much into it. It's not just me, is it? He's trying to be sexy, isn't he? Why? Is that Cox's intention? It seems impossible that it's an accident, but as a marketing move, this mascot guy seems to be totally inexplicable. A sexy cartoon icon is one thing (and a disastrously ill-advised one for something vanilla like a cable company) but at least do it right! Hire Lara Croft, for God's sake, like Pepsi and
lucozade Larazade and every other damn product. Or some big-chinned, broad-shouldered stud like everyone on The New Batman-Superman Adventures, especially Commissioner Gordon.
Of course, those are just my crappy, free, private sector ideas, and they should be taken for what they're worth: nothing. There must have been tons of market research to back up the selection of "Creepy" as the Cox mascot. I'm sure that somewhere at Cox Communications Headquarters there are boxes of returned surveys that look like this:
What corporate image do you find most comforting?
Even so, Cox Communications' choice of mascots seems like a poor one: even if "Creepy" is a good mascot, he may not be right for Cox. After all, they're starting with a strike against them already: their name is "Cox." There's already so much potential for hilarity, what with their sales pitch of "Let us bring Cox into your home." Who here didn't think of the dirty meaning first? And then they show you a picture of "Creepy", leading you to fear that that second, dirty meaning might not be an accident; it may be their actual mission.