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Published: 3/31/2012 - Updated: 2 years ago

Toy ads aim to outline neutral but fun stance

Etch A Sketch to offer red and blue versions

BLADE STAFF AND NEWS SERVICES
One of the nonpartisan campaign’s slogans is displayed on a screen. One of the nonpartisan campaign’s slogans is displayed on a screen.
THE OHIO ART COMPANY Enlarge

BRYAN -- The makers of Etch A Sketch are hoping to draw on the toy's recent introduction to presidential politics with a humorous election-themed ad campaign that was begun Friday across the Web and social media.

"With Etch A Sketch shaking up the political debate, it was our desire to develop a campaign that encourages Americans to get involved in the process and vote," Martin Killgallon, senior vice president of marketing and product development at Ohio Art Co., said in a statement. "We feel these ads are fun and engaging and will continue to keep people interested throughout the remaining presidential campaign."

Based in Bryan -- about 55 miles west of Toledo -- Ohio Art has been making the Etch A Sketch since 1960. The company was thrust into the political arena last week when an aide to Republican presidential hopeful Mitt Romney compared his fall election strategy campaign to the signature toy's method of shaking up and erasing sketches.

Mr. Romney's Republican opponents latched onto the comment as proof he was prone to change his views.

"I have not written my public policy pronouncements on an Etch A Sketch," GOP rival Rick Santorum said while campaigning in Wisconsin, for example. "They are written on my heart."

Ohio Art has latched on too, but it is doing it with impartiality. The ads feature slogans such as:

"Etch A Sketch is a lot like politics, there's a lot of gray area."

"Politically we lean right down the middle; which way did you lean?"

"We have a left knob and a right knob for each political party (But remember, when both work together, we can do loop de loops)."

Although the classic Etch A Sketch is red, a blue model is on the way, lest Democrats feel left out. They're to be on shelves by mid-June, along with a red-and-blue collector's edition with etchings of an elephant and a donkey.

The campaign's "Shake it Up, America" Web site, shakeitupamerica.net, features a link where visitors can get information on registering to vote.

The campaign was created by the ad agency Team Detroit.

"We're just having a ball with it," said Larry Killgallon, Ohio Art president. "I thought a week ago it would have died down by now."

The president of the 104-year-old company hopes the blue-and-red Etch A Sketch toys are popular at this summer's Republican and Democratic national conventions.

"We're kind of the fun part of the campaign," Larry Killgallon said.

The company plans to add yard signs and bumper stickers soon.



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