Just when Mitt Romney was having a great week, with Jeb Bush’s endorsement and a pivotal Illinois primary victory, his aide Eric Fehrnstrom reinforced qualms about the campaign with his Etch A Sketch gaffe on CNN. He inadvertently suggested Romney was playing up conservative values for the sake of the primaries: “You hit a reset button for the fall campaign. You can kind of shake it up and we start all over again.”
Fellow GOP nominees, democratic opponents and netizens seized the opportunity, with ridicule and renewed campaign fervor. According to Reuters, searches for Etch A Sketch bumped out NFL star Tim Tebow on Yahoo’s Top 5 searches and dominated Twitter’s top trends for two full days.
But mockery and a bit of unintentional truth aren’t the only things to come out of the remark. The gaffe has also spurred sales for Ohio Art Co., the maker of the classic erasable drawing tablet, according to the Associated Press. “We’re proud that one of our products is shaking up the debate,” chairman Bill Killgallon told the AP.
Etch A Sketch’s stock nearly tripled Thursday and the toy soared to No. 1,556 on Amazon.com’s top-sellers chart within 24 hours of the gaffe, Reuters reports. By the following day, the toy saw its sales increased more than 3,000% and moved up to 51st place in Amazon’s best-seller chart.
“It’s kind of like a Bill Clinton-Monica Lewinsky amount of media interest,” Bill Southard, Etch A Sketch’s promotions manager, told Reuters.
Since its introduction to the now baby boomer population in the 1960s, the company has sold 100 million Etch A Sketches, and this isn’t the first time they’ve benefited from unplanned publicity. When Toy Story and Toy Story 2 came out, the company’s sales saw similarly soaring sales.
To say thank you for the big business, the company is sending a handful of the iconic toys to each of the campaigns, but claims it will not publicly endorse any of the candidates.