Keep Britain Tidy Relaunches Iconic Tidyman Stick Figure

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Keep Britain Tidy Tidyman

People across the UK may have noticed the return of Tidyman, the iconic stick figure leaning to drop litter into a trash can, courtesy of Keep Britain Tidy.

A ubiquitous global symbol for the 20th century, the origin of Tidyman remains a mystery.

UK Tidyman

The Keep Britain Tidy organization first attached the logo to trash cans in the UK in 1969, attributing creation to a 1960s collaboration between Keep America Beautiful and the American Brewers Association, funded in part by Budweiser.

Peter Jones, Principal Consultant at Eunomia Research & Consulting set out to solve the mystery—but Keep America Beautiful had no record of an original design on its website, nor did the American Brewers Association, which became the Beer Institute in 1986. Budweiser (Anheuser-Busch) has no record of the logo being used before the 1970s.

So Jones has turned to online learning community Skillshare, asking its 2 million students and teachers to help solve this mystery.

UK Tidyman

“The Tidyman is one of the most recognisable logos in the UK, found on wrappers, bottles, and garbage cans,” said Jones. “It’s great to see him making a return in Keep Britain Tidy’s latest campaign, though for many of us it feels like he never really went away.”

“His message of responsible litter-disposal has been ingrained in many a child as they grow up, and serves as a reminder for adults too,” notes Jones. “When I came to investigate his origins in the United States, it astounded me that they are so hard to trace—he truly is an international man of mystery. I hope someone can cast a little more light on his past, and that we can give credit to his designer.”

Skillshare features more than 15,000 different classes from design to business to photography and teachers include Shark Tank’s Barbara Corcoran and early Apple employee Guy Kawasaki.

A key to the success of Skillshare, founded by Michael Karnjanaprakorn after a transformative experience of working at a charter school in post-Katrina New Orleans, is its community. Members can share assignments and offer feedback and advice, augmenting the results by peer-to-peer collaboration and access to experts.

We are surrounded by logos from name brands like McDonald’s golden arches to Nike’s swoosh, but nameless icons such as exit signs, bathroom signs and universal traffic signs also fill our environs.

So—if you can help solve the Tidyman mystery, please do so via Twitter @skillshare and hashtag #SearchingForTidyman. His creator deserves the credit.

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