According to MySpace, he's 99 years old. Aries. Single. With only 49 friends. And that's including dead ones like Captain Kangaroo and Howdy Doody.
This month, he's on the cover of Playboy. The back cover.
Speedy Alka Seltzer, from Bayer, the makers of aspirin and heroin, is being revived by BBDO in the hopes he'll hold vintage appeal for a younger market, according to the NY Times today.
Speedy was created in 1951 by the now defunct Wade Agency and dumped ten years later by Jack Tinker Partners, a hot creative boutique in the 60s. (Tinker was formed by CDs tired of being managers at McCann, who wanted to get back to creating work. They convinced Interpublic to set them up in a suite at the Dorset Hotel, next to a great source of visual ideas before the internet: MOMA. Alka Seltzer was among the first clients to walk in the door.)
In the swinging 60s, the Speedy mascot (and stop action animation) was seen as staid and corny and declasse.
Tinker replaced Wade's work with "groovier" spots, including a simple-line animation commercial that William Steig illustrated using pre-computer animation, penning the drawings with a sharpened bamboo reed. Gene Wilder was voiceover.
As yet, there was no plop, plop, fizz, fizz. One of the creatives at Tinker was Mary Wells who tells the story behind the tagline. The creative team milking R&D for ideas met a doctor who said that two aspirins work better than one. Knowing that aspirin is the main ingredient in Alka Seltzer, the team got the doctor to agree that two Alka Seltzer tabs also worked better than one. The client was only too happy to up the dosage on the pack. (When was the last time your idea doubled annual sales?)
Eventually, Tinker lost the account to DDB who did spots that still rank among my favorite commercials of all time:
The spots won all kinds of awards, but the client hated them, contending that indigestion wasn't funny. Unfortunately for the agency, viewers loved "Spicy Meatball" but thought that the product it sold was spaghetti.
The client brought the account back to Mary Wells who by now had left Tinker to start her own shop: Wells Rich Greene. She lured the client with another groundbreaking idea: do 30 second spots instead of 60s.
And today's powerhouse concept for the brand is...recycling?