The National Museum of American History at the Smithsonian yesterday unveiled a collection devoted to the history of road safety. The collection includes costumes and body parts from two advertising icons from the 1980s and 1990s: Vince and Larry, the crash test dummies that were used to illustrate the importance of safe driving in 40-plus TV spots.
Vince and Larry were introduced 24 years ago in spots created by Leo Burnett for the Ad Council and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. They rapped, they danced and they went crashing through windshields for nearly two decades, accompanied by taglines such as "You can learn a lot from a dummy" and "Always buckle up."
Although the dummies are in a separate collection, the National Museum of American History has preserved campaigns for several famous brands, including Marlboro, Alka-Seltzer, Federal Express and Nike. Beyond campaigns, the museum also hosts thousands of examples of packaging and catalogs as well as a variety of advertising objects like wooden cigar-store Indians, neon signs and examples of political campaign ads.