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How the GOP Gave Some Scratch to Etch-a-Sketch
By: Shawn Paul Wood
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Lite-Brite. Simon. Speak & Spell. Rubik's Cube. Even a View Master. 

The mere mention of these toys opens up a vortex and sucks us through time to the totally tubular 1980s. And as I unroll my pant cuffs and kick off my Vans, I should reach for the number one time-warp toy: my sweet, ruby-red Etch-a-Sketch. It seems like the more I crank on both of these knobs and draw a picture that would make that amateur Da Vinci green with envy, the more I am transported to the days of "Fast Times of Ridgemont High."

Well, that or the 2012 GOP run for the roses known as the Republican Primary Voting BlitzWhat the what? It's flabbergasting what the media chooses to make into a story, specifically considering they are given the same, mundane talking points with debate after debate after debate after... oh, well, I get it now. Let's review what a beloved toy from the 1980s has to do with the political mudslinging, and why that brand is experiencing a resurrection of sorts. 

Just when Mittens was about to put his fresh new gators on the neck of the Santorum campaign, one of Romney's former senior advisers traipsed on CNN and suggested his boss could change like an Etch-a-Sketch drawing:

"I think you hit a reset button for the fall campaign," Eric Fehrnstrom, a longtime adviser to Mr. Romney, said in response to a question about pivoting to a matchup with Mr. Obama and appealing to moderate swing voters. "Everything changes. It's almost like an Etch-a-Sketch. You can kind of shake it up and restart all over again."

That reference sent pundits from both sides of the fence chum in the water that Romney was "an untrustworthy standard-bearer for the conservative cause." Rick Santorum has been handing out Etch-a-Sketch toys out to his acolytes in several towns. Newt Gingrich's campaign tweeted, "Etch-a-Sketch is a great toy, but a losing strategy." Then, the former Speaker of the House decided that wasn't enough and had a snappy website created called SketchyRomney.com. (For the record, Newt has been out of this campaign for a couple of months, but that move just gave someone a raise at any PR firm in Washington D.C. With a corner office.)

Naturally, being an astute marketing guy, here comes a brilliant quote from Ohio Arts, the parent company of the 1980s throwback via an interview on NPR

Martin Killgallon, marketing director for Ohio Arts, we salute you: "We have a left knob and a right knob...so we neutrally speak to both parties." 

I would love to give Mr. Killgallon a righteous fist bump for that genius. From a slick website to a shrewd talking point, who says nothing good comes out of politics? Now, if you will excuse, I'm going to twist and turn this thing until I get a sweet resemblance of the Mona Lisa while watching a "Miami Vice" marathon. Carry on.


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About the Author
Shawn Paul Wood is a hack-turned-flack with more than 20 years of collective journalism, copywriting and marketing communications experience. Shawn Paul is founder of Woodworks Communications in Dallas, Texas. If you need him, ping him here or follow him on Twitter @ShawnPaulWood
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