A SISSY, SUPERSTAR TOUR DE FORCE. THE GREATEST MACHO SPORTS ICONS OF THE ’60s WEEPING AND MOANING ON TV.
Instead of a kid wailing at his mom for Maypo, I made a 180º turn away from the obvious. Instead of kids crying "I want my Maypo!," I used the greatest superstars of professional sports to sell Maypo to small fry, five to twelve years old. Maypo had always been considered a baby cereal, and to really hit one out of the park, I had to appeal to the pre-teenagers. I showed Mickey Mantle, Johnny Unitas, Wilt Chamberlain, Ray Nitschke, Oscar Robertson and Don Meredith – all in one television spot, crying for their Maypo and shedding lifelike tears. Here was the ultimate sissification of the American macho sports hero, a twisteroo on the unconscionable hustles by jocks who manipulated kids through hero worship. Instead, the sports greats in our spot sold obliquely, displaying self-mocking wit.
The words and visuals – superstars crying I want my Maypo! – gave the campaign extraordinary power (making it the most tearful TV spot ever made!). A single-minded merger of words and pictures had been accomplished, resulting in riveting imagery. American kids ate it up. (The word imagery is too often associated purely with visuals, but it is much more than that: Imagery is the conversion of an idea into a theatrical cameo, an indelible symbol, a scene that becomes popular folklore, an iconographic image. And this imagery can be expressed in words and visuals or, ideally, both.)