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what was the first toy to be advertised on television
Blog / October 23, 2023

what was the first toy to be advertised on television

The advent of television revolutionized the way products were marketed, bringing them into the homes and lives of millions. Among the pioneers of this advertising revolution was the very first toy to be showcased on this burgeoning medium. In the early days of television, one particular product captivated the imagination of children and parents alike, laying the foundation for the future of toy advertising. This article delves into the fascinating history of the first toy to be advertised on television, exploring its impact, significance, and the pioneering steps it took in the realm of consumer marketing.

The Dawn of Television Advertising

As television gained popularity in the mid-20th century, advertisers recognized its potential to reach a wide audience and showcase their products. In 1941, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) authorized commercial television, laying the groundwork for a new era of marketing. With the rise of consumerism in the post-war era, companies sought innovative ways to promote their products, and the world of toys was no exception.

The Rise of the Pioneer

In the late 1940s, the American toy industry was experiencing a surge in demand, fueled by the economic resurgence following World War II. Amidst this vibrant landscape, a particular toy emerged as a trailblazer in the world of televised advertising. The pioneer in question was the iconic Mr. Potato Head.

The Enigmatic Mr. Potato Head

Introduced in 1952, Mr. Potato Head was a groundbreaking toy conceptualized and developed by George Lerner, an American inventor and designer. It was an interactive toy that allowed children to create various characters by sticking plastic parts, resembling facial features, into a real potato or a specially designed plastic potato body.

The Landmark Advertisement

In 1952, the world witnessed a groundbreaking moment in the history of marketing when Mr. Potato Head became the first toy to be advertised on television. The commercial, which aired during children’s programming, captured the attention of the young and old alike. This event marked a significant shift in the advertising landscape, highlighting the potential of television as a powerful medium for reaching consumers and promoting products.

Impact on Toy Marketing

The televised promotion of Mr. Potato Head brought a paradigm shift in the way toys were marketed. Prior to this, print media and word-of-mouth were the primary means of advertising toys. However, the success of this television commercial opened doors for toy manufacturers to explore the potential of this new medium. The colorful and engaging nature of the advertisement contributed to the increasing popularity of the toy and paved the way for a new era of toy marketing strategies.

Cultural Significance

Beyond its marketing significance, Mr. Potato Head became a cultural phenomenon, deeply ingrained in the collective memory of several generations. Its quirky and customizable nature appealed to children’s creativity and imagination, fostering a sense of playfulness and inventiveness. The toy’s ability to evoke laughter and joy transcended generations and cultural boundaries, making it a timeless classic in the realm of childhood playthings.

Legacy and Evolution

The success of Mr. Potato Head not only revolutionized toy advertising but also laid the groundwork for the evolution of the toy industry as a whole. Inspired by its success, toy companies began to invest more heavily in television advertising, leading to the development of more engaging and interactive commercials. This paved the way for the emergence of animated characters, jingles, and catchphrases that would become synonymous with the marketing of toys and children’s products in the years to come.

Contemporary Relevance

Despite the passage of several decades, Mr. Potato Head remains a beloved toy and a significant part of popular culture. Its timeless appeal has led to various adaptations and reimaginations over the years, including digital versions and collaborations with popular franchises. The toy’s enduring legacy serves as a testament to its enduring charm and its ability to adapt to the changing trends and preferences of each generation.


The tale of the first toy to be advertised on television is a story of innovation, creativity, and the power of effective marketing. Mr. Potato Head’s journey from a simple, yet imaginative, toy to a pioneering advertising marvel not only transformed the landscape of toy marketing but also left an indelible mark on popular culture. Its legacy serves as a reminder of the enduring power of play and the profound impact that a single toy can have on generations of children and adults alike. As the world of advertising continues to evolve, the story of Mr. Potato Head stands as a testament to the enduring magic of childhood and the timeless appeal of innovative toys.

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