Thursday, February 28, 2008

What a Relief it Is! Alka-Seltzer Brings "Speedy" Out of Retirement

Picture courtesy AdvertisingIconMuseum.com.

There's been a recent retro trend among well-known advertising brands. They're bringing back their product's retired icon or spokesman. Burger King brought back the Burger King a few years ago, even giving him his own MySpace page, and Orville Redenbacher was brought back from the dead first in a weird animatronic form, and then as the real deal in vintage television commercials (a wiser choice.) Now those suffering from heartburn and craving some nostalgia (and bicarbonate relief) can rejoice because Alka-Seltzer has brought back its cute little red-headed spokestablet, Speedy.

Speedy - as I learned from doing a bit of research - has a rather long and lucrative career as far as advertising icons go. He was created by two advertising professionals (and long-time friends), Bob Watkins (a commercial artist) and Chuck Tenant (an ad man at Wade Advertising in Chicago.) Speedy, whose original moniker was Sparky, was introduced in women's magazines in 1952. After television got popular, he came to life in 212 commercials and even had a Spanish-speaking twin named Prontito for Latin-American audiences.

Speedy hasn't really been utilized since the 80s - until now. He's resurfacing in print ads and Alka-Seltzer has even made him the star of an interactive "where's Waldo" type game on their website.
website. Check it out. It's tougher than it looks - I only got one out of three!

Here's a vintage ad of Speedy singing the plop, plop, fizz fizz song. When I was a kid I actually stole some of my parents' Alka-Seltzer and tried it. I thought it was going to taste like soda.

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