While we like to imagine Don Draper dreaming up the cheese commercials that have caused us to spend the last hour wheezing through laughter-induced stomach pains, Panda is a product of Egypt, not Madison Avenue. As was the case with those cavemen a few years back, all the "it" commercial elements are intact: oddly compelling characters, a killer soundtrack, and a stock yet endlessly amusing sequence of events. In each installment, as Buddy Holly's "True Love Ways" plays, the cuddly mascot confronts someone--a man in a hospital gown, a father and son shopping for groceries, a cook in a restaurant kitchen--with the audacity to "say no" to the company's cheese.
We won't spoil the inevitable ending, but it suffices to say that this panda, in spite of his perpetually upturned line of a mouth and gentle, blinking eyes, handles rejection very poorly. Think of him as an ursine Gallagher--except threatening, humorless, without a hammer, a striped shirt, or a thing for messing up melons in particular--merely an unwavering mission to ruin the days (and immediate physical surroundings) of any who dare not taste his cheese. And we though the Tillamook ads were good.