Jim Ferguson’s Clio Award for Vince and Larry Crash Dummy Commercials, 1986

In the 1950s, automobile crash tests at universities convinced safety advocates that “packaging” the driver and passengers with seat belts and other protective hardware was an urgently needed solution to highway fatalities. In 1966, Congress passed a law requiring seat belts, padded dashboards, stronger door latches, and other safety features in all new cars. But in the 1970s, few motorists wore seat belts because of apathy, distrust, or ignorance of the safety benefits. The U. S. Department of Transportation, National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) used mass media to urge motorists to wear their seat belts. In 1984, NHTSA partnered with the Ad Council to create television and radio public service announcements that would persuade motorists to buckle up. The Ad Council hired Leo Burnett, a talent company, which recommended the use of humor. Leo Burnett staff writer Jim Ferguson and art director / creative Director Joel Machak created Vince and Larry, a pair of crash test dummy characters with personalities and attitudes. Leo Burnett hired director-producer William Dear to film the commercials. The fast-paced PSAs used humor and negative example to show the consequences of sudden deceleration without seat belts. The Leo Burnett team won the prestigious Clio Award; this statuette was presented to Jim Ferguson at the annual advertising awards ceremony in Lincoln Center in New York in 1986. Georg Olden, who designed the sleek, soaring Clio Award statuette in 1962, was a pioneer graphics designer at CBS in the early 1950s, supervising the on-screen visual identities of popular television series. He later pursued a career in advertising design, earning seven Clio awards for his work. The grandson of a slave, Olden was the first African-American to design a postage stamp, the 1963 Emancipation Proclamation commemorative.
Object Name
date made
Physical Description
metal (overall material)
overall: 15 in x 7 in; 38.1 cm x 17.78 cm
ID Number
catalog number
accession number
Road Transportation
American Enterprise
See more items in
Work and Industry: Transportation, Road
American Enterprise
Road Transportation
American Enterprise
Data Source
National Museum of American History, Kenneth E. Behring Center
Credit Line
Gift of Jim Ferguson

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