Mr. Potato Head: An Iconic Toy That Revolutionized Advertising
Remember when toys could only be seen and purchased in physical stores? Since television’s introduction, advertising has changed how people buy and perceive products. Mr. Potato Head was one of the first toys ever advertised on television – in 1952. So let’s explore its history and its impactful legacy!
George Lerner, a toy designer in New York, first created Mr. Potato Head in 1949 as an attachment for real potatoes or vegetables; later, due to parental and grocery store concerns about spoilage, Hasbro started packaging plastic potatoes with facial features as a solution. They released the first plastic Mr. Potato Head toy in 1952, quickly becoming popular among children.
The most significant moment for Mr. Potato Head’s growth was its debut in television advertising. George Lerner successfully pitched it to Hassenfeld Brothers – later Hasbro – which realized the power of television commercials for advertising their new product; they premiered a commercial for Mr. Potato Head in April 1952, leading sales to skyrocket and making him an instant household name.
Advertising toys on television was relatively new during the 1950s and resulted in an explosion of commercials targeted toward children. Advertising allowed toys such as Mr. Potato Head to reach much wider audiences – it even made him an iconic symbol in households across America! Ads no longer remained limited to magazines, billboards, or newspapers – they now appeared during popular kid’s TV programs, making it impossible to escape them!
Mr. Potato Head has undergone significant modifications since its introduction in 1949. In 1960, its plastic potato body came in various colors (yellow, brown, etc.) for mass production; by the 1970s, however, Mrs. Potato Head also emerged. Mr. Potato Head became even more iconic after appearing in the Toy Story movie, which generated revenue through merchandise.
Mr. Potato Head revolutionized toy advertising forever when its TV commercials spread across mass audiences, forever changing how audiences perceived commercials. As evidenced by its continued success and wider toy market penetration, toy ads have since evolved into powerful marketing tools for manufacturers.