Kansas City, Here They Come

Only three 7-foot Jolly Green Giant statues are known to exist. Michael Jackson has one. An unknown collector has the second. And now Kansas City, Mo., shop Bernstein-Rein is the proud owner of the third.

The agency recently purchased nearly 1,000 antique ad-icon figurines, ranging from the Energizer Bunny to Ronald McDonald, and plans to open a museum in town to showcase them. The rare and bizarre items in the collection include a Heinz Aristocrat Tomato (with top hat and ascot) from 1939 and a 1955 tavern display for Heineken with a Dutch boy smoking a cob pipe and admiring a large bottle of the brew. Also in the mix are Snap, Crackle and Pop, who first appeared on boxes of Kellogg’s Rice Krispies in 1933.

The collection was started by Kevin Lucas, former president of now-defunct agency CreatAbility in Coral Gables, Fla. “I think he just got obsessed with it and wanted to do something else,” says Bernstein-Rein chairman and CEO Bob Bernstein. Lucas could not be reached.

Bernstein wouldn’t divulge what he paid for the icons but says he had them insured for $500,000. Among his favorites is a 1952 lightning-bolt figure called Reddy Kilowatt, created for Reddy Communications, a utility company. “It brings back memories of when I played baseball when I was a boy,” says Bernstein, whose team was named after the icon.

The shop is looking for a site for the museum —a renovated firehouse downtown is a possibility. It is also seeking a curator for the collection and will set up a panel to choose which icons are added in the future. As the shop celebrates its 40th anniversary next year, the museum is a way to leave “some sort of legacy,” Bernstein says. “This will be a work in progress forever.”