In my previous post (The late great Marx Toys, Part II) I talked about how toys and toy advertising used to give kids a chance to play at being grown-ups. Well, nothing was better than pretending to be a race car driver! Like everyone I knew, my fascination with cars started at an early age. I loved them all – Hot Wheels, Dinky Toys, Matchbox, and of course my favorite … Kenner’s SSP Racers.
There is so much to love about this ad:
The USP (Unique Selling Proposition) of the toy is mentioned right out of the gate – “Can you hear it? I can hear it.” That tell-tale ripping sound of pulling the “t-stick” that launched the racers into motion added to the sensory stimulation of the narrative. Not only did these cars have super rad names like “Detonator,” they looked cool, traveled fast, and crashed spectacularly – they also made a distinctively cool noise! Thanks to “sonic sound” those racers would literally “howl with power!”
We weren’t actually driving those cars but pulling that darn t-stick came pretty close because it gave us the feeling of engagement with the car, beyond just moving it with our hands like every other toy car. And I’m pretty sure every child instinctively knew about that noise would drive their mother crazy!
Also, these cars were advertised just like real cars for grown-ups – “Kenner SSP Racers for ’72.”
The Kenner SSP ads operated on 100% pure emotion. We didn’t need or want to hear about the solid construction that would enable the cars to withstand crash after crash, or the affordability or any other boring detail. Watching the ads was almost as much fun as playing with the racers!
Personally, I think “King Cobra” would have been a more appropriate name than “Tacoma,” a city famous for its Museum of Glass. And perhaps it would have been funnier if it had ended with “each car sold separately.”
If you’re wondering what to get me for Christmas … this Kenner SSP Racer MIB is available on eBay — unused, and an exact duplicate of the Racer I used to beat my brother with in *every single race* 🙂