If you weren’t spending time in a cave last week you were undoubtedly inundated by commentary on the “Etch A Sketch” incident. You know, that’s the one where Romney’s senior advisor, Eric Fehrnstrom, compared the candidate's political positions to a drawing on an Etch A Sketch. As he put it:” "I think you hit a reset button for the fall campaign. "Everything changes. It's almost like an Etch A Sketch. You can kind of shake it up and restart all over again."
I will let others decide if it was a gaffe or a moment of honest lucidity. Rather, I want to focus on the power of toys in society. Think about it; virtually everyone in the United States (and maybe the world for all we know) knew immediately what an “Etch A Sketch” was and as a result got the meaning of the metaphor. The "Etch A Sketch" was a universal touchstone
Why, because toys have power well beyond their moment in the playroom. They help shape how our
brains work as well as provide intellectual and emotional touchstones that stay with us all through our lives.
Last year, I posted two articles entitled “My Top 10 List of Games and Toys in History" (click here for part 1 and part 2). In it, I listed toys that played a role in history: Now we have to add the “Etch A Sketch” to the list. Where it ranks will ultimately depend upon whether it actually has an impact on the nominating process.
Bottom line: Never underestimate the power of toys and the importance of what we do as an industry.