Gobbledok

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The Gobbledok stalking some Smiths chips.

The Gobbledok is a fictional advertising character in Australia from the late 1980s to mid-1990s, recently re-emerging in new marketing campaigns in 2010. It is a pale brownish alien with an obsession for eating Smith's Potato Crisps. The Gobbledok subsisted on Smith's chips because they reminded it of its home, Dok the Potato Planet.

The Gobbledok became famous for the catchphrase "chippie, chippie, chippie!"

The campaign was first conceived in 1987 by Sydney's George Patterson Advertising for what was then The Smith's Snackfood Company. Brainchild of in-house writer John Finklesen, the character was designed and brought to life by special effects creator Warren Beaton - also responsible for creating Wattie's NZ's "Getti" - and originally performed by small stature actor Gavin Scott, who stands at 1.21m tall.

Initially, Finkleston conceived of the Gobbledok as a one-off spot to introduce Smith's new "Seal of Freshness" packaging for their Crisps - featuring a new less moisture-permeable wrapper. The very first TVC featuring the gobbledok began shooting on location at Sydney's Chatswood Coles Supermarket on 31 May 1987, and was Directed By John Clark & produced by Ian Iveson of Iveson Clark Productions, Agency producer for George Patterson was Des Freeman.

The unexpected success of the Gobbledok's first "one-off" commercial spot lead to problems in further productions. As the first spot featuring the Gobbledok was never intended to be continuing series, the animatronics used were necessarily limited in their facial expressions. With the increasing budget in later commercials, the Gobbledok costume became greatly improved, but the range of expressions still had to relate to the first version. Smiths, aware of the success, later had the agency create a list of "rules" for the creature's behaviour.

The Gobbledok's trademark Red, Yellow, and Blue mohawk and hairdo was originally inspired by a popular receptionist at George Patterson's at the time of its inception, the colours subliminally suggested Smith's packaging.

The great popularity of the Gobbledok, and the associated rise in Smith's Crisps sales, prompted the long association of the Gobbledok with the Smith's brand in Australia.

Gobbledok's many TV spot adventures included:

  • Crashing his tiny spaceship into a supermarket carpark, breaking in, and levitating up to a shelf to steal 'chippies'.
  • Riding with a truck driver. After actress Robyn Moore - portraying a truck-stop waitress - says "you watch out for Gobbledoks then!", the truckie replies "Gobbledoks? HAH! NOBODY believes in Gobbledoks!" knocking the fellow over with the shop door on the way out.
  • Being mistaken for a guest wearing a "great suit" at a costume party, then hovering across the pool with stolen Crisps.
  • Running at the "speed of sound" (inspired by the Mike Jittlov film The Wizard of Speed and Time).
  • Using "The Force" to steal Chippies from a lounging couple.
  • Hitching a ride, then Moving in with an elderly Potato Farmer. Meeting his wife, "Don't you think he's a bit... unusual?". "It's all right, he's from the city, love". A series of 3 "episodes"
  • Being hunted by the police and the armed forces to the tune of "The Gobbledok is Coming to town". (to which, a large sum was paid to the estates of J. Fred Coots and Haven Gillespie, copyright owners of "Santa Claus is Coming to Town").
  • Appearing in clips of old classic and B-grade movies such as Jason and the Argonauts and Plan 9 from Outer Space, climaxing with the film characters all dancing with the Gobbledok in a large co-ordinated "street-dance" scene.
  • Bungee jumping Warner-Bros.-cartoon-style off a bridge to steal chips from a young girl riding in the back of a Pickup truck.

Attention has been often drawn to obvious "deliberate" bloopers, such as the Gobbledok's large golden ear ring swapping left to right from scene to scene, or that he had no visible teeth, or that it was rarely actually seen to put Crisps in its mouth.

The Gobbledok campaign ran continuously for over 10 years until the mid-1990s.

In 1996 a new Gobbledok was commissioned, but Smith's changed advertising agencies and the TVC was never filmed. It has long since been replaced by a succession of new advertising campaigns. A facsimili of the original Gobbledok has made a cameo in the recently aired "Eat happy" ad.

Since 1987 many Smith's Snackfoods trucks in Australia have carried the Gobbledok's trademark word "Chippies" on their sides.

As of 2008, an illustration of the Gobbledok has begun to re-appear on some Smith's chips packaging.

In May 2010 Smiths brought back the Gobbledok for new TV commercials. Still using a costume, but with a re-designed computer generated face instead of an animatronic one. Now missing are his loping right ear, and multi-colored punk hairdo.

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