Captain Birdseye

Captain Birdseye is the advertising mascot for the Birds Eye frozen food brand founded by Clarence Birdseye. Appearing in numerous television and billboard commercials, he has been played or modelled by various actors and is generally depicted as a clean living, older sailor with a white beard, dressed in merchant naval uniform and with a seafaring accent. In Germany he is known as "Käpt'n Iglo", in France as "Captain Iglo" (the word "captain" being in English), in Portugal as "Capitão Iglo", in Italy as "Capitan Findus" and in The Netherlands as "Kapitein Iglo".

The mascot is a reference to the brand's extensive and well-known range of frozen seafood products, of which fish fingers is probably the most-widely known. Because the Birds Eye brand is marketed to families, many of the advertising compaigns feature Captain Birdseye as having a 'crew' composed mostly of children in the preteen to teenage age groups, encouraging brand loyalty from children and emphasising the convenience of serving the company's products to their parents. A recent 2005 advertising campaign in the UK features Captain Birdseye categorically proclaiming that Birds Eye frozen readymade meals contain no artificial flavours or preservatives, with obvious references to the products being healthy and nutritious to children.

The actor most associated with Captain Birdseye was John Hewer, who played the character from 1967 to 1998. Hewer died on 16 March 2008. [cite news | title = Captain Birds Eye actor dies, 86 | work = BBC News | publisher = BBC | date = 18 March 2008 | url = http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/entertainment/7302554.stm | accessdate = 2008-03-18] For a while in the late 90s, Captain Birdseye became a much younger, rugged, dark-haired man with designer stubble and a miniature submarine, who indulged in far more action-packed adventures accompanied by his pet pelican named Pedro, the advertising agencies presumably believing that the older white-bearded man would no longer have the same appeal to children as he once did. This version did not last long however, and the better-known version soon returned.

Rumours circulating in popular British culture that Gary Glitter will be cast as the next Capatin Birdseye are an urban myth.

Allusions

* In the UK television sitcom Only Fools and Horses, Derek Trotter once mockingly called Uncle Albert 'Captain Birdseye', in reference to their similar appearances and Uncle Albert's naval past.
* The Goodies parodied the adverts as 'Captain Fishface', ending with a note saying "Captain Fishface has your children. If you want them back send 2000 wrappers from Fishface Cod Pieces (after all...ye don't know what goes into my rissoles, do ye?...)"
* Spoofs of the Birds Eye commercials featuring "Captain Fishy, the man with the fishy fingers" were featured by DJ Steve Wright on BBC Radio 1 in the UK in the early 1990s.

References


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