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ARCHIVES: A Look Back at Classic Ad Campaigns

Spring Forward

April 09, 1998|DENISE GELLENE

"A spring, a spring, a marvelous thing," sang a syrupy female voice in a 1962 commercial for James Industries' Slinky toy.

The spot shows a Slinky slithering down steps as the jingle proclaims: "It's a wonderful toy . . . fun for a girl or a boy."

In another commercial from the 1960s, a little girl walks in a circle as she pulls her Slinky caterpillar--a spring forms its mid-section. Another vintage ad shows Slinky springs sitting atop pedestals.

Still used in Slinky commercials, the jingle was adapted for a recent spot pitching the Isuzu Amigo. Ad agency Goodby, Silverstein & Partners said it used the jingle to tap into memories of people between ages 24 and 35 while appealing to their sense of fun.

In creating the Isuzu spot, Goodby rewrote the lyrics and parodied the Slinky ads. The Amigo lumbers down a staircase and makes circles on a beach as young adults in tacky '70s garb sing about the car. The ad ends with Amigos on pedestals.

Bob Reilly, Isuzu senior vice president, said the company had concerns about whether viewers would understand the commercial.

"I thought it was quite a risk, with people dressed in '70s clothing and hair looking like they're from 'The Monkees,' " he said.

Reilly evidently had reason to worry. About half of the people in Amigo's target market don't understand the Slinky ad, he said. Isuzu is preparing a new commercial to reach those people, although it plans to continue running the month-old Slinky spot. Amigo is benefiting from publicity about the Slinky commercial, Reilly said.

"Not since the days of Joe Isuzu have I received more comment on an ad," said Reilly.

James Industries said there is no sign the commercial is helping Slinky.

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