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Classic cartoon characters give checks sentimental value


Remember the days when a dollar bought more than a candy bar and Fred and Wilma were the hottest couple on television? When life was simple and Bugs Bunny was as cool as bell-bottoms?

Cartoon characters like the Flintstones, the Jetsons and Bugs were big hits with baby boomers then, and still are. That's why the Deluxe Corp. is targeting boomers with its Stars collection check package, which is available through participating financial institutions.

Deluxe is banking on checks featuring cartoon and comic strip characters B. C., Bugs Bunny and Friends, the Flintstones, Ziggy, Garfield, the Jetsons and the Simpsons. On a more delicate note, the collection also includes checks with Hummel figurines.

Deluxe put the checks on sale last month, after more than 1 million orders of Bugs Bunny and Friends' checks sold in test markets, mostly to 25- to 45-years-olds.

"Baby boomers are turning to things they grew up with," said Bruce Mears, director of marketing at Deluxe Corp. "The baby boom generation represents a more fun time, and these checks are able to bring out the kid in all of us."

Marian Salzman, director of BKG Youth, a youth marketing consultant firm, said the reverse chic of the '90s is evidence that baby boomers are looking for things that made them feel comfortable.

"Familiarity is in style," Ms. Salzman said. "It's like listening to the radio and hearing a song you know you made out to at your junior prom. It's a crummy time in the world, and people are using nostalgia to feel safe and secure."

Bill Barker, 44, manager of Comic Archives Inc. in Redford, Mich., said he has seen customers in their 30s, 40s and 50s with the Tasmanian Devil on their checkbooks and with "Star Trek" Visa cards.

Mr. Barker said he has fond memories of the cartoons and comic strips.

"We're not hiding anything," he said. "People grew up on Pebbles and Bam Bam."

Deluxe has no specific plans for younger people, but Mr. Mears said that when it comes to ideas, there is really no end in sight.

"Out of the current eight check designs, the Simpsons comes the closest to the younger generation, but we're just going to have to wait and see."

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