Romney rivals draw on “Etch A Sketch” line, toy sales soar

March 23, 2012

By Michelle Conlin

(Reuters) – Mitt Romney’s presidential hopes may have been shaken up when an aide compared his campaign to an “Etch A Sketch” toy, but the publicity blitz has been a delightful surprise for the U.S. makers of the well-known erasable children’s art tablet.

Ohio Art, the low-key, family-run company that has made “Etch A Sketch” for half a century, saw its sales of the toy soar to 1,556 on within 24 hours of the gaffe. The company’s thinly traded stock more than doubled, to $9.65.

Senior Romney adviser Eric Fehrnstrom was speaking about what would happen if Romney won the Republican nomination and faced President Barack Obama in the November election when he drew what has become an unfortunate comparison for Romney.

“You hit a reset button for the fall campaign,” Fehrnstrom told a CNN interviewer on Wednesday. “Everything changes. It’s almost like an ‘Etch A Sketch’. You can kind of shake it up, and we start all over again.”

Romney’s rivals – Republicans and Democrats alike – seized on the comment as proof the Republican frontrunner was a flip-flopping waffler whose positions on issues such as healthcare were not to be trusted.

His Republican opponents gleefully waved the $12.99 red plastic toy, which lets children make drawings they can then erase by shaking it.

“I am not the ‘Etch A Sketch’ candidate!” Romney challenger Rick Santorum declared to supporters.

“Etch A Sketch” mania has erupted online, the toy triggering a reaction normally reserved for the likes of the Kardashians.

It elbowed out NFL star Tim Tebow on Yahoo’s Top 5 searches and swept Twitter’s top slot for two days running.

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