Retro Characters Resurface

Alka-Seltzer Advertising SpeedyAlka-Seltzer Advertising Speedy

The Bayer owned Alka-Seltzer brand dug through its archive closet to revive their long-ago popular character, Speedy. Alka-Seltzer used the elfish-looking character, sporting Alka-Seltzer tablets as both his body and his hat, in their advertisements from 1952 until 1980.

Invented in 1931, Alka-Seltzer is a remedy for headache, indigestion, gas, stomach cramps and heartburn, which none of us will ever forget after their recent charming ads.

Speedy was created at the Wade Ad Agency in 1951. Originally named Sparky, Speedy’s name was changed after a Sales Manager suggested linking the characters name with Alka-Seltzer’s proclaimed speedy relief.

Speedy appeared in 212 commercials during his life – first appearing in women’s magazines. Speedy’s character came to life on television. His high, squeaky voice was done by Dick Beals (known as the voice of Gumby and Davy Hansen in “Davy and Goliath). The stop-motion animation that was used in Speedy’s commercials was highly advanced for the 1950’s, and Speedy’s character became well recognized through the ads depicting him marching across America with a line of Alka-Seltzer packages in tow.

Over the years, Alka-Seltzer has had a variety of taglines including:

“Relief is just a swallow away”
“Plop, plop, fizz, fizz, oh, what a relief it is”

“I can’t believe I ate the whole thing”
“Mamma mia, that’s-a spicy meat-a-ball!”

“Try it, you’ll like it!”

The last times the public saw Speedy was during the American Bicentennial and the 1980 Winter Olympics, that is, until now.

The new trend for brands is to bring back retro characters from their long-ago advertisements. In addition to Alka-Seltzer, both Burger King and Orville Redenbacher have dug through their archives for their recently released ads. Alka-Seltzer is using Speedy as he originally appeared, without updating his look. The company hopes that younger generations will respond to his retro, authentic feel.

Rather than continue advertising to older generations, Speedy works to catch the attention of a new audience. Jay Kolpon, The VP of Marketing and New Business in the Bayer Consumer Care Division, stated, “We think Speedy can be ‘retro cool’ [and] appeal to a new, younger target than has been the historic user.”

In the new campaign, Alka-Seltzer is using Speedy to target men in their 20s and 30s who partake in food and drink in excess more than other age ranges.

New ads depicting Speedy will not be placed in traditional media, because Alka-Seltzer is working to be where their new target is, and to reach them in ways that don’t feel like advertising. The campaign tagline is “Good times. Speedy Alka-Seltzer is there.”

Speedy can be found in magazine ads in Maxim, Playboy and Rolling Stone, in addition to online games, radio spots on rock stations, and pizza box tops.

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~ by americanapersona on April 19, 2008.

2 Responses to “Retro Characters Resurface”

  1. Somehow i missed the point. Probably lost in translation 🙂 Anyway … nice blog to visit.

    cheers, Recumbent

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