Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Mom, I Won a Trip to Teheran

All across the U.S., in the first half of 1964, I would be willing to wager there were receptionists at TV stations going home from work, mumbling to themselves about how they got nothing done because their day was interrupted by kids staring at a large glass jar and their mothers either making small talk or asking silly questions.

The jars were supplied by the folks at Screen Gems, pushing a cartoon character that was already in permanent reruns—Yogi Bear.

Here’s Broadcasting magazine from January 13, 1964.

Kids to bare talents at bean guessing
130 STATIONS TAKING PART IN SCREEN GEMS PROMOTION
Screen Gems Inc. reported last week that 130 of 150 TV stations carrying the Yogi Bear cartoon series have agreed to participate in “Yogi Bear’s Jellybean Sweepstakes,” in which 10 youngsters under 12 and their parents will win an all-expenses paid trip abroad next summer.
The contest opened officially last Saturday (Jan. 11) and will continue through March 7. Stations have been supplied with jars and jellybeans. Each station puts a certain number of jellybeans in the jars and the children are asked to send in postcards guessing the number. The first postcard with the winning number in each city will be eligible for the grand contest. In turn, names of the winners will be eligible for a second drawing, at which time 10 names will be selected for the overseas trip.
The grand prize winners and their parents will be flown to Tokyo, Rome, London, Moscow, Sydney, Singapore and other cities to be chosen. Each child also will be given a live bear cub to be presented to a zoo in the city he visits on behalf of the children of America. Consolation prizes of Yogi Bear games, toys, books and records and dolls will be awarded to local winners. Screen Gems has supplied stations with an extensive array of promotional and merchandising materials.
We can only imagine the reaction of parents who won a trip to the Soviet Union.

What prompted this unusual contest? Well, the year was 1964. That was the year Hanna-Barbera came out with Hey, There, It’s Yogi Bear. Counting jellybeans (they kind of look like jelly stones, don’t they?) was all part of the hype, as an edition of Film Bulletin explained in a story:

There’s a bear of a campaign to herald that great new Hollywood movie star, Yogi Bear, in Hanna-Barbera’s first feature-length animated film. The 20-point merchandising program includes a Kellogg’s premium offer via the backs of 45 million Corn Flakes and Rice Krispies boxes which will be promoted via a one-minute commercial on Kellogg sponsored TV shows and targeting on the youth market.
A tremendous variety of “Yogi Bear” character merchandise is available from more than 50 manufacturers.
Yogi’s Sunday comic page, appearing in 190 major markets, will carry for six weeks his Hollywood adventures while making “Hey There, It’s Yogi Bear.” Colpix is issuing a “Yogi Bear” soundtrack album and a single featuring the theme music.
Also: P.A. tours of Yogi-Bear and Boo-Boo costumes, a book promotion including three Golden Book story books, a comic book, Whitman Publishing Co. games, a national tie-in with the Yogi Bear Jelly Bean Sweepstakes, Yogi...
Well, you get the idea. The Film Daily, on May 8, 1964, went even further in its description of the push, saying Screen Gems even engaged in a “Special mailing to clergy, educators, opinion makers and parents stressing the film’s family entertainment.” You think Disney did the same thing for “Lady and the Tramp”?

But back to jellybeans. Having read about this contest, you might wonder who won it. The Lodi News-Sentinel of March 13, 1964 revealed one of the preliminary winners who had appeared at the reception desk of Channel 13.

Lodi Youth Yogi Bear TV Winner
A 12-year-old Lodi youth yesterday learned that he had correctly guessed the number of jelly beans in Yogi Bear’s jar.
Mark Olsen, 339 Maple St., is the winner of $100 in prizes and games in the Channel 13 contest, having out-guessed some 6,000 entrants in the area-wide contest. He correctly estimated that the jar contained 427 jelly beans.
In addition to his prizes, which will be presented on the Yogi Bear program sometime next week, Mark will received a year’s free pass to Yellowstone National Park, and will be made an honorary ranger.
Biggest prize of all, however, is the opportunity to compete in a national drawing among the 115 area winners for ten all-expense paid, round-the-world trips for the winner and his family.
If Mark’s name comes out of the hat in the national drawing, he and his parents will be guests of British Overseas Airwaves on one of its 707 jets on a tour of Rome, London, Moscow, Paris, Frankfurt, Teheran, New Delhi, Bangkok, Sydney and Tokyo.
Each of the ten winners will take with him an official Yogi Bear cub, furnished through the courtesy of the Duluth, Minn. zoo, to be presented to one of the cities along the travel route.
“Wait a minute,” you’re wondering. “Did I read twice about a kid taking along a real, live bear, Yowp?”

Yes, loyal reader, you did. Thus spake Variety on June 10, 1964:

KDAL Loaded for Bear
Duluth, June 9.
They’re hunting for bear in the woods around this northland town.
The search, at the behest of the local zoo and KDAL-TV hopes to produce 10 foundling bear cubs for donation to cities aboard this summer. They’ll be chaperoned by youngsters who were regional winners in the Yogi Bear jellybean sweeps contest staged by Screen Gems for its off-network cartooner.
You can, no doubt, picture the smiling faces of Iranians as a P.R. flack from Screen Gems says “Here’s your bear, Teheran.” And you thought you saw a Hanna-Barbera international incident when Yogi Bear demanded ketchup on his filett mignonnies in that restaurant in Paris.

Anyway, there are several pictures on the internet of one young man, clutching a Yogi doll and a BOAC travel bag, who must have won one of the grand prizes. But each has a huge, ugly watermark across it. So the best we can do is reprint this picture-less story from Boxoffice magazine of June 8, 1964:

Jacksonville Girls Wins In Yogi Bear Contest
JACKSONVILLE—Seven-year-old Katherine Edwards, the daughter of a Duval County police patrolman, became the winner of one of ten national first prizes awarded in the Yogi Bear Jelly Beans Sweepstakes conducted by Columbia Pictures in the advance promotion for “Hey, There, It’s Yogi Bear,” the new feature cartoon picture starring Yogi Bear, a character loved by millions of American youngsters through television and comic strip outlets.
Katherine’s prize is an all-expense trip to Zurich, Switzerland, with her mother and father accompanying her. She will present to the mayor of Zurich a bear cub donated by the Duluth, Minn., zoo and she will present letters of introduction from Florida’s governor and U.S. senators.
She was treated to a preview shooting of “Hey There, It’s Yogi Bear,” at the local Studio Theatre, as the guest of Art Castner, manager of the Edgewood Theatre, where the movie will have its north Florida premiere.
Ed McLaughlin, Columbia manager here, revealed that 750,000 children in 127 American cities and towns competed for the ten top prizes in the sweepstakes. Katherine also received a treasure chest filled with Yogi Bear novelty toys. Her trip overseas and back will be made in Rolls Royce jetliners of BOAC. Local TV station WJXT, Channel 4, cooperated in conducting the sweepstakes here with the assistance of Ranger Hal, child favorite.
Katherine, if you’re reading, let us know how the trip went.

7 comments:

  1. "Yo-Yo complain to State Department!"

    ReplyDelete
  2. I just entered a contest to win a trip to New York to see a just opened show, a musical version of DOCTOR ZHIVAGO...unfortunately, it's closing on Sunday.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Unfortunately, Mark Olsen was stuck in Lodi again...

    ReplyDelete
  4. Great finds, Yowp. And great headline -- I almost spat out my coffee in shock!! Though, I can sort of understand Teheran, given that the revolution was still 15 years in the future. The biggest surprise is Moscow -- in the middle of the Cold War, and only two years after the Cuban Missile Crisis. I know the bear is the national animal of Russia, but...

    Anyway, I wonder if someone actually did win a trip to Moscow. If so, boy would it be cool to hear their thoughts on the trip. And, as you say, I can only imagine parents' reaction to their kid winning a trip to the Soviet Union. Sadly, I can't imagine Moscow being one of the offered cities today... Ironically, Havana probably would be offered today... How times change...

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Great finds, Yowp. And great headline -- I almost spat out my coffee in shock!! Though, I can sort of understand Teheran, given that the revolution was still 15 years in the future. The biggest surprise is Moscow -- in the middle of the Cold War, and only two years after the Cuban Missile Crisis. I know the bear is the national animal of Russia, but...

      Anything to shut 'em up I guess! They had to be diplomatic about this didn't they?

      Anyway, I wonder if someone actually did win a trip to Moscow. If so, boy would it be cool to hear their thoughts on the trip. And, as you say, I can only imagine parents' reaction to their kid winning a trip to the Soviet Union. Sadly, I can't imagine Moscow being one of the offered cities today... Ironically, Havana probably would be offered today... How times change...

      At least we can go to Havana now. They'd probably pick Dubai as well.

      Delete
  5. 5/6/15
    RobGems.ca Wrote:
    Holy dancing sticks, Yowp, Ed Justin is at work in the sales publicity department again. That kid from Lodi kind of looks like Pugsley Addams, and doesn't look too thrilled in that photo. In fact he looks kind of bored, morosely for that photo session to be over with so he can get home and play baseball or something fun. One wonders if that Yogi Bear "Wake Up America" campaign album was part of the prizes in the Screen Gems/Colpix Records publicity deal. Keep up the good work, "honest" Ed.(my sarcasm showing here.)

    ReplyDelete
  6. 'Hey There, It's Yogi bear"...Yowp, are you gonna do a review on this and the half-hour "This is your Life" spoof that closed the series? Inquiring minds want to know.

    SC

    ReplyDelete