Monday, May 4, 2015

Jay Ward and the art of self-promotion

Decorations at the Bullwinkle Block Party, art by Sam Clayberger
Jay Ward had been burned by a lack of promotion by ABC on his first series, Rocky and His Friends, so he had little reason to believe that his new show, The Bullwinkle Show, would fare any better on NBC.  Figuring he needed to toot his own horn, he launched "Operation Loudmouth" as a way of making sure the media, and by extension his intended audience, knew about The Bullwinkle Show.  Writer George Atkins and newly hired cartoonist Allan Burns were given the task of generating ideas for promoting the show.   

The Bullwinkle statue unveiling with Bill Scott, Sheriff Peter Pitchess and Jay Ward
Operation Loudmouth was aptly named as Jay staged several large, over-the-top events and continually bombarded the media with a wide variety of mailings, all with one goal in mind: to make sure everyone knew about about The Bullwinkle Show.  Perhaps his biggest event to help promote the show's debut was the Bullwinkle Block Party, which closed down one lane of busy Sunset Boulevard in Hollywood.  The Bullwinkle statue was unveiled that evening and celebrity guests included LA County Sheriff Peter Pitchess and Jayne Mansfield.  Here's what the invitation looked like:

And here are the badges for the event, included with the invitation:

The Bullwinkle Song Book for singing at the event:

Writing by George Atkins, art by Allan Burns for all five items.

A ribbon, poking fun at NBC and their lack of promotion for the series:

And travel stickers:

Context for some of the above stickers: Billie Sol Estes was a Texas businessman jailed for state and federal charges of fraud, Newton Minow was Chairman of the FCC and famously derided television as a "vast wasteland."  Supposedly, the SS Minnow on Gilligan's Island was named as a sarcastic shot at him.

Next up, Jay Ward tries to add another state to the Union...


  1. A record made during the Block Party...

  2. Wait for the next post when I go into more detail about the 52nd state.