The Macy’s (NYSE: M) Thanksgiving Day Parade dates back to 1924. It is a major PR event for the troubled department store and companies that have balloons showcasing their products. Not only do these parade past tens of thousands of people on New York City’s West Side, the event is televised nationally by NBC. Most of the largest and most visible balloons are already well-known, and have been for decades.
Here is a list of the most famous balloons and their corporate owners:
- Hello Kitty is owned by Sanrio. This popular cartoon character is part of a line-up of toys, merchandise, and clothing sold at retail outlets and online. The parent company is based in Japan and is over four decades old.
- Diary of A Wimpy Kid is owned by Abrams Books. The central character is named Greg Heffly and was created by author Jeff Kinney. The franchise has branched from books to movies to merchandise. According to Abrams, “The series started off online on Funbrain.com in 2004 and made its print debut in April of 2007. There are now more than 180 million copies of Diary of a Wimpy Kid books available in 61 editions and 52 languages.”
- The Pillsbury Doughboy is the mascot of the Pillsbury Company, which is owned by General Mills (NYSE: GIS) and J.M. Smucker (NYSE: SJM). The Doughboy was created by Pillsbury’s advertising agency almost 50 years ago.
- Pikachu are characters owned by The Pokemon Company International and appear in card games, video games, TV shows, movies and comic books. Founded in 1998, the Japanese company has achieved total games sales of almost 280 million.
- SpongeBob SquarePants was created for Nickelodeon, which is owned by Viacom (NASDAQ: VIA). The show premiered in 1999 and has spawned movies, video games and theme park rides.
- Ronald McDonald is a clown character and mascot of McDonald’s (NYSE: MCD), the global fast food chain with revenue of more than $25 billion. Ronald McDonald House is a children’s charity supported by the company.
- Angry Birds’ Red is one of the characters from the video game franchise created by Finnish company Rovio Entertainment. Launched as recently as 2009, the brand expanded this year with “The Angry Birds” movie, a blockbuster with global revenue in the region of $350 million.
- Thomas The Tank Engine is a steam locomotive character owned ultimately by Mattel (NASDAQ: MAT). It originally appeared in “The Railway Series” of books, first published in 1945. Adapted for a TV series in 1984, Thomas was voiced by former Beatle Ringo Starr.