Mikey the Freckly-faced Kid - In 1971, the Doyle, Dane & Bernbach Agency
created an ad campaign for Life Cereal starring three young brothers (The
Gilchrist brothers), all freckled and all very cute. The now classic TV spots
(which ran from 1972 through 1987) showed two of the boys (Michael & Tommy)
wrestling with the decision of whether to try a new cereal (Life) that was
supposed to be good for you. "I'm not gonna try it. You try it," they argued.
Suddenly, the boys slid the bowl of cereal in front of their little
four-year-old brother, Mikey (John Gilchrist), who according to the commercial
"hates everything." To their surprise, Mikey liked it ("He likes it! Hey, Mikey!")
and the commercial message that Life Cereal was good for kids was complete.
Quaker Oates moved Life's Cereal's Mikey Campaign to the BBDO ad agency in 1974.
In 1986, Mikey returned as a college student to continued this cereal saga for
the Quaker Oats Company. In addition to Life Cereal, John Gilchrist (a.k.a. "Mikey")
appeared in more than 250 commercials for such products as Pepto Bismol, Skippy
Peanut Butter, and Jell-O before quitting in 1988.
In later years, the Gilchrist brothers joked about how they did all the talking, yet their brother John got
all of the recognition. John's standard answer to this discussion "Well, I was
the cute one."
The three Gilchrist brothers are now successfully employed: John
as an advertising executive; Michael as a labor negotiator, and Tommy as an
TRIVIA NOTE: During his TONIGHT SHOW monologue (02/17/97) Jay Leno
informed the audience of a special bred of turtle that breathed through its rear
end. Jay joked that the only way to give that turtle resuscitation was to get
the Mikey kid from the commercials because "He'll try anything."
Urban legend rumors asserted falsely that Mikey had died after eating Pop Rocks and Coca-Cola
(TV Guide 7/25/1998 p.10). Also in 1997, the makers of Life Cereal held a
contest to find a "new" Mikey to appear on their cereal boxes. The winner
(chosen from 35,000 entrants) was a girl named Marli Brianna Hughes from Tampa,
Florida. See also - DEATH - MISCELLANEOUS
- "Bogus Reports"