Saturday, December 19, 2020

We Belong To The World

Some partial scans are better than others. Friend o'the Archive Peter Fishman unearthed this little beauty from his own archives recently and it's worth a look I think:

The dating is said to be 1956 and it's from a publication called The Candy Buyer's Directory, although I think the dating could be a smidge too late. I'll revisit momentarily.

Three things jump out at me with this ad. The first is the very clear message that Topps was an international concern.  Indeed, beyond their North American activities (Canada and Mexico came along quite early) they were making inroads in Europe, South America and even the Middle East (Israel was getting Topps products by the end of the 40's) and were looking well beyond those areas as well.

Second is the obvious promtional nature of the advert.  Topps was well-versed in cross promotion by the mid 1950's and would continue as the decades progressed.

Third, there is no mention of Bazooka, which is a little odd.  Clor-Aid Gum though is clearly on display and that leads me to our little dating conundrum. On March 4, 1954 The U.S. Second Circuit's Court of Appeals ruled that Topps was prohibited from using the Clor-Aid name as it infringed upon American Chicle's Clorets brand name and packaging.  The year before Topps had previously lost to that firm in marketing Topps Gum in a package that was to close to that of Chiclets:

Pretty darn close to a Chiclets package for sure!

With that, I think this ad is from early 1954, and also as below.

Present are a number of 1953-4 issues; putting aside the perennial Baseball, we have Wings, which was marketed in 1952-53,  World on Wheels (1953-54), Tatoo (a 1953 reissue), the 1953 version of License Plates, Who-Z-At Star (also 1953), Scoop (1953-54 but late 1953 and early 1954) and Tarzan, which was somewhere in the 1952-54 continuum (precisely where in those years is a bit of a mystery still for the two sets issued under this title but one seems almost certain to have been from 1953). Then we have the head-scratching World Coins which premiered in 1949 as a penny tab product and was reimagined as Play Coins of the World in 1950. Perhaps the international appeal of the original title was behind it's prominence, or maybe Topps had extra coins still to puch out the door.

Clor-Aid may have been intended to capitalize not just on the American market but also in French-speaking areas (France and Switzerland) as the court noted it sounds the same as Clorets in that tongue. But Topps got sued by American Chicle in 1953 for repackaging the re-imagined Topps Gum (again, they had previously tried to glom onto the Chiclets brand with packaging that was ruled too close for comfort) and while they were found to have copied the packaging, a trademark infringement suit failed.  American Chicle then appealed, leading to the March 4th judgement by the same judge that dinged them on the Chiclets affair. So it was an odd choice I think to use in in this ad.

We know Wings, which intriguingly had a Spanish Langauge version issued in Mexico (and possibly parts of South America) saw a tie-in with Doeskin Tissues and also with a brand of sneakers called Red Ball Jets in 1955, so maybe the ad was designed to burn off excess stock after all (and perhaps the ad resulted in those tie-ins!).  Maybe even an excess of chlorophyll gum nuggets found their way into some promotional scheme somewhere. 

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