Sunday, August 14, 2016

1970s summer comics nostalgia with Thing and Vision, Episode VIII

Has it been a week already since the previous post in this series? My deep dive into this May 1978 issue of "Marvel Two-in-One" is reaching its conclusion (though I do have at least one doozy left), and this evening's post features the glossy back page of the issue.

It's mostly an advertisement for the Louisville Slugger brand, which has pretty much had the baseball bat market cornered since its inception in the 1880s. (The brand is now owned by Wilson Sporting Goods.)

So, two-thirds of the page is Cincinnati Reds All-Star catcher Johnny Bench discussing the importance of having the right wood or aluminum bat from Louisville Slugger as part of a successful approach at the plate. It's all about brand awareness. If Johnny Bench and, by extension, the Marvel superheroes think it's cool, then it must be a product you want to use. (Although I'm not sure how well that worked with the Twinkies.)

In addition to this, and because it's a comic book, the advertisement must also try to sell you some tchotchke or doodad — something to compete with the secret-agent telescopes, little dolls, joy buzzers, reproduction banknotes and foreign stamps hawked elsewhere in the issue.

Hillerich & Bradsby, then the parent company of Louisville Slugger, came up with a baseball bat-shaped ballpoint pen, featuring a facsimile Johnny Bench autograph, as its object to pitch (no pun intended). There's also a pen and pencil set, featuring a facsimile autograph of either Pete Rose or Reggie Jackson.

The pen was 50 cents, while the set was $1.00. Not too exciting, honestly. I can't find many memories of these pens and pencils online, so it must not have been a comic-book advertisement that resonated with kids.

Even with limited sales, though, it would have been good business for H&B. They probably included sports equipment catalogs with your order and also got to add your name and address to the Potential Client Database.

The pens were about 5½ inches long and made of plastic, and they were about as cheap-looking as they sound. Here's an image of one from an eBay listing.

1 comment:

  1. Episode VIII? How did I manage to miss episodes I through VII? I need to go do some back reading.