Idle Eric will appear in an ad campaign on buses, the Metro system, posters and on the radio. The ads will extol the benefits of walking and promote the www.Idle-Eric.co.uk website. The character will also feature at a series of events throughout the two-month campaign, including the Great North Run this weekend.
The campaign promotes walking by outlining benefits such as losing weight, reducing stress and getting fit, and also that it is an alternative way of getting about.
The drive targets men because they are not picking up health messages as quickly as women, and are less likely to ask for medical help, according to a Tyne and Wear Health Action Zone spokeswoman.