Happy “National Smile Day” everybody! Woohoo! I woke up in a much better mood today having remembered this. This should be a great day of full-on fun; tell a joke, make someone laugh, and most of all – SMILE!!! You might remember my post a ways back noting this holiday. Instead of rambling on about the Holiday itself today, I think I’ll chat about the origin of the smiley face (yes, these cute little yellow faces existed long before “emoticons” kids….!).
Alright. Let’s discuss “Mr. Smiley” shall we?! Mr. Smiley was “conceived” in Massachusetts in 1964 by Harvey Ross Ball (rest his soul – 1921 – 2001), the co-owner of a public relations and advertising firm. Ball designed the smiley face in order to smoothe ruffled feathers after a particularly gruesome merger between two insurance companies. Apparently, it only took Ball about 10 minutes to create the image, and he made only $45 for his efforts. Employees of the newly amalgamated insurance company were instructed to push this new “friendship campaign” by smiling and being cheery when answering phones and – you guessed it – paying bills (ha!). Another advertising gent, David Stern also claims to have invented the smiley face in Seattle.
“So how did Mr. Smiley move from the insurance company to the mass media market-place?” you might ask. Well, in 1970, it turns out that two brothers, Bernard and Murray Spain of Philadelphia decided to make this smiley dude a fad. The brothers added the slogan “Have a nice day!” to the face and made millions off of it. How much money did the inventor of the Nike swoosh make? Anyways, Mr. Smiley’s mug was splashed over everything but the kitchen sink – buttons, posters, shirts, lunch-kits… By 1972 (two years later), the brothers had made over 50 million dollars in sales from this creation. 50 MILLION! Unreal. A circle, two eyes, a mouth and a charming expression…..
Since then, we have seen the variations of this demure little face twisted and contorted into a variety of expressions and moods. Oh, Mr. Smiley also has accessories now too. I particularly enjoy this one… He might be tiny, but he sure is cute! Anyways, for some more smiley fun, you can visit George Rabe’s (GeorgeRabe.com) webpage. By the way, for my American friends, Walmart is apparently looking to “patent” the smiley face. The decision to do so was made when another supposed inventor of Mr. Smiley (Franklin Loufrani) moved to register the smiley as his own creation (he apparently owns Smiley World and it has rights to the logo in over 80 countries). The story gets even more ironic (keep smiling, it gets better!). Mr. Simley, not “Smiley”, of Walmart (I am not making this up) had gone on record saying that, “It is kind of ironic that this whole dispute is about a smiley face.” No kidding people. Where is the love?! Pretty soon we will need an “irony-ing” board to smoothe out this issue [cymbal smash]. Ok, my puns are pathetic.
Happy “43” Mr. Smiley! You were born in the Year of the Rabbit – you are very popular and you have a wide circle of family and friends…. I just hope you can survive the custody battle.