And with all the global media attention focusing on the passing of Etch A Sketch inventor Andre Cassagnes, Ohio Art came up with a special Cassagnes memorial Etch A Sketch display at its Toy Fair booth at the Javits Center.
The glass case actually contained Cassagnes’s original Etch A Sketch prototype from over half a century ago.
“I took it to Toys ‘R’ Us the other day and told them it was a new item!” said Ohio Art president/COO Larry Killgallon. “They had no idea!”
For the record, Ohio Art’s first Etch A Sketch was manufactured at its Bryan, Ohio factory on July 12, 1960.
“We were able to get Andre’s autograph and put it on a 50th anniversary signature edition Etch A Sketch three years ago,” said Killgallon, standing by the Cassagnes display—which also featured the 50th anniversary Etch A Sketch issue.
Killgallon had been surprised at the international response to Cassagnes’s death.
“It wasn’t just the U.S. press that understood the significance,” he said. “There was a color picture on the front page of the biggest German newspaper, and coverage in the U.K., Australia, and France, of course [Cassagnes was French].”
Cassagnes’s passing followed another extraordinary burst of media attention for his venerable toy invention.
Last year during the Republican presidential primaries, Mitt Romney’s own communications director compared the candidate’s platform to an Etch A Sketch when he told CNN: “Everything changes. It’s almost like an Etch A Sketch. You can kind of shake it up and restart all over again.”
Romney’s opponents quickly exploited the remark by using or giving away Etch A Sketches.
“It was 10 solid days of interviews—even in meetings and in the car,” said Killgallon. “It literally generated over a billion product impressions. It was like the Super Bowl!”
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