PAWTUCKET, R.I., Feb 5, 2002 -- Smiles abounded at the Hasbro showroom in New York City today as the company's official "spokes-spud," MR. POTATO HEAD(R), celebrated a golden moment - his 50th birthday. The birthday spud was surrounded by his friends including Alan G. Hassenfeld, Hasbro's chairman and CEO, and Jim Davis, of GARFIELD fame, co-creator of the internationally- syndicated Mr. Potato Head comic strip. Today marked the beginning of a year-long celebration with all the right parts, including the "50 Years of Smiles" Promotion to benefit the children's charity organization, OPERATION SMILE, and a nationwide Spud-Mobile tour, proving that turning 50 has great a-peel.
Like all Americans turning 50, MR. POTATO HEAD also became a member of AARP today, receiving his AARP card from Jim Parkel, AARP President-elect, in an official induction ceremony.
"MR. POTATO HEAD'S trademark positive outlook makes us proud to have him as a card carrying member of AARP," said Jim Parkel, President-elect of AARP. "He is a great role model for others hitting their boomer years, truly embodying the philosophy that 50 is fabulous and one is forever young."
Fifty Sure is Nifty...
In 1952, the first toy ever advertised on television encouraged kids to turn a bag of parts and a potato into a "funny face man." Since then, MR. POTATO HEAD'S status as an American icon has been no small potatoes. "Throughout his life, MR. POTATO HEAD has touched the lives of millions," said Alan G. Hassenfeld, Hasbro Chairman and CEO. "He is so much more than a Hasbro classic, he's a cultural icon, and it is the people who have brought him into their homes - and hearts - that have helped him achieve that status. This birthday celebration is our way of saying thank you, and ushering in the next 50 years of good spirit and good will."
Kicking off the 99th annual American International Toy Fair, today's birthday party was no small potatoes. Inspiring a feeling of celebration, Jim Davis discussed his role in bringing an American icon to the funny pages, and proudly introduced the guest of honor leading party celebrants of all ages in a rousing chorus of "Happy Birthday, MR. POTATO HEAD."
A Year Long Celebration...
The MR. POTATO HEAD 50th birthday celebration will continue throughout 2002 so that all fans can take part in the action. There will be a national "50 Years of Smiles" Promotion where consumers can enter to win $25,000 with Hasbro making a generous donation to OPERATION SMILE, which is celebrating its 20th Anniversary in 2002. In addition, MR. POTATO HEAD is expected to attend birthday parties in his honor at more than 250 participating WAL-MART stores nationwide.
For MR. POTATO HEAD's 50th birthday, Hasbro chose OPERATION SMILE as its philanthropic partner to spread an important message that is consistent with the company's philosophy: smiling is essential to a happy, healthy, balanced life. Throughout his life, Mr. Potato Head has done his part to raise social awareness, like giving up his corncob pipe to send an anti-smoking message to kids, and "stumping" for the League of Women Voters to get out the vote. This year is no different. OPERATION SMILE (www.operationsmile.org) is a private, not-for-profit volunteer medical services organization that provides reconstructive surgery and related health care to indigent children and young adults in developing countries and the United States. OPERATION SMILE provides education and training around the world to physicians and other health care professionals to achieve long-term self-sufficiency.
Throughout the year, consumers will have an opportunity to learn more about OPERATION SMILE and participate in a national sweepstakes promotion, as part of which Hasbro will make a generous donation to the organization. "MR. POTATO HEAD has always brought smiles to children's faces and we are incredibly thankful to Hasbro for making this wonderful opportunity possible for our worldwide organization," said Dr. William P. Magee, Co-founder, OPERATION SMILE. "This birthday celebration will directly change the lives of children with unfortunate, but correctable deformities, and they, in turn, will be able to express their gratitude with smiles of their own. Any potato that can do all that is truly a blessing."
Smiles from State to State...
MR. POTATO HEAD wants to celebrate his birthday with those he loves best - the consumers who have made him such a recognizable symbol of American culture. So, he is taking his party on a national Spud-Mobile tour, making stops at participating WAL-MART stores around the country from February to November, and appearing at other events nationwide.
At select WAL-MART stores, shoppers can visit the MR. POTATO HEAD kiosk and see many of the wonderful things MR. POTATO HEAD has done in his 50 years. They can play with MR. POTATO HEAD and his parts, sign his birthday card and have their picture taken with the birthday spud himself who will make a personal appearance at each tour stop.
Show Us Your Smiles...
Hasbro is embarking on a national promotion to bring out America's best MR. POTATO HEAD smiles. Between now and November 4, 2002, the company is inviting people ages 2 to 102 across the country to put their best MR. POTATO HEAD smiles into action and submit a photo or drawing showing the person smiling and an image of MR. POTATO HEAD. At the end of the campaign, Hasbro will randomly select one entry and give the lucky person in the picture something to truly smile about - a $25,000 grand prize. There will also be 10 runners-up who will each receive a Hasbro toy and game prize package worth approximately $200.
For more information on the "50 Years of Smiles" Promotion, including entry rules and registration form, please visit www.mrpotatohead.com.
MR. POTATO HEAD Everywhere...
Beyond the Spud-Mobile tour, MR. POTATO HEAD will appear at high-profile events and participate in promotional activities throughout his 50th birthday year. Stay tuned to further news on MR. POTATO HEAD'S adventures throughout the year.
And Now, It's Time To Say "Later Tater..."
Hasbro (NYSE: HAS) is a worldwide leader in children's and family leisure time entertainment products and services, including the design, manufacture and marketing of games and toys ranging from traditional to high-tech. Both internationally and in the U.S., its PLAYSKOOL, TONKA, MILTON BRADLEY, PARKER BROTHERS, TIGER and WIZARDS OF THE COAST brands and products provide the highest quality and most recognizable play experiences in the world.
Consumers can visit www.mrpotatohead.com, www.hasbro.com or call 800-327-8264 from 8:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. EST, Monday through Friday, for questions about MR. POTATO HEAD and other Hasbro products.
(c)2002 Hasbro, Inc. All Rights Reserved.