Even though I can’t sing, someone was once kind enough to call me “the minstrel of marketing” because wherever I go I spread little stories about brands and branding. While I like researching and writing my own version of these stories sometimes you come across one that is just perfect as it is.
So it was when I stumbled across the story of Penguin.
No, not the publisher I have already told that story.
Nor was it the story of the chocolate biscuit, one to research for another time.
This story related to the origins of the Original Penguin clothing brand and resides on their website.
Now if anyone had told me that the inspiration for a brand I sometimes wear was the beheading of a penguin named Pete I’m not sure I would have believed but read on…
“In 1955, an ambitious salesman named Abbot Pederson traveled to NYC on a sales trip for the Munsingwear brand. With time to kill before a flight home, he decided to pop into a local bar for a few whiskeys. Little did he know, his next steps would stumble into history.
Taking a wrong turn down a Manhattan street, he oddly enough found himself outside a taxidermist’s shop. Deciding he needed a drinking buddy for the flight, he bought a penguin and named him Pete. At some point during the flight, and after another cocktail or three, he accidentally knocked the head off Pete the Penguin.
A seductive stewardess Pederson had been enjoying throughout the flight removed his necktie and wrapped it around the penguin’s neck. She joked that such a dapper bird deserved to be immortalized, maybe even on a shirt. With that idea – an icon was born.
In a matter of years, the Munsingwear Golf Shirt embroidered with Pete’s likeness, was synonymous with a league of legends including Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, Arnold Palmer, and Clint Eastwood. Today, Original Penguin embodies a mix of iconic American Sportswear with modern minded style into a diverse range of products for a full lifestyle brand. Made for originals, by originals.”
Footnote: Subsequent research has shown me that there are other stories about the origins of the brand and the logo but none are as much fun so I’m sticking with this one.