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What is "Ad Art"? This collectible is often times referred to as a "Premium" acquired through the purchase of a product, such as a plastic figurine from a fast food restaurant. Ad Art may be acquired by directly purchasing it from a retail outlet, having to purchase a product for the return of the UPC label(s), or as stated, may be obtained at a fast food stop, but the difference is, to be Ad Art the piece must advertise a business, a product, or a service. For example: McDonald's offers Barbie doll toys for little girls in their Kid's Meals. This is a premium, still a collectible, but not advertising art. However, at the same time McDonald's offer Matchbox cars for little boys. These are premiums, but at the same time can be considered Ad Art, because Ronald McDonald's face and the Golden Arches can be found on the car. This then, is a way for McDonald's, as a corporation, to advertise using unnatural, or unexpected avenues. Now, that is not to say a 75 year old McDonald coupon is not of collectible value, or in fact, that coupons, as a form of advertising by themselves, can not be considered Ad Art, but I'm trying to concentrate on collectibles that children would find interesting and there aren't many kids that find a collection of coupons interesting. Give the children Matchbox cars and that becomes an area of which they can easily and eagerly become collectors.
I recently saw a collector on television with shelves full of Ad Art. I remembered his complete set of plastic colored Kool Aid cups, and the happy face pitcher, I grew up with. I think I even had the purple Goofy Grape cup! These cups had silly faces on them and each flavor had its own name. I remember Rootin' Tootin' Rasberry, Choo-Choo Cherry, Loud Mouth Punch, Freckle Face Strawberry, Jolly Olly Orange, Rudy Tutti Fruitti, and Lefty Lemonade. These plastic cups were so ugly they were cute. At the time, I never considered they would be of a collectible nature, neither did my parents, but there they were on a glass shelf in this guys office and I got such a feeling of nostalgia. I was immediately brought back to childhood. I wanted that set!
So, how do you find advertising art? It is as simple as opening your eyes! Every day I am constantly amazed at the amount of this type of collectible offered to the conscientious collector.
It wasn't until I had kids who ate breakfast cereal that I became aware of the vast number of offers on the back of the boxes. The boxes themselves are collectible ad art. Wheaties box fronts "sport" pictures of players and they are an inexpensive way for a child to begin a collection. Grandparents, when you have an extra minute in the grocery store, take a stroll down the cereal isle. Mattel, Matchbox, Microsoft, Disney, and others offer both premium and advertising collectibles on the backs of cereal boxes. To acquire the "toys" you want, you must send in the UPC code and a small amount of money. Not only are the toys fun to play with, but all children LOVE to get presents in the mail!
Speaking of grocery stores, look on the backs and sides of any type of children associated food items. For example: Chef Boyardee's Chef Jr. has an offer for a bean bag "Rigatoni" the dog in their commercials, together with several different bean bag animals matching the shapes of the noodles in their cans of spagetti. Little Debbie snack cakes offer both Matchbox cars and Barbie collectibles with the Little Debbie name located on them for a small price and UPC codes. And, Kraft cheese singles currently offers a "Dairy Fairy" bean bag cow for 2 UPC labels and $3.50.
Another place to find these collectible offers are in the weekly newspaper coupon ads. If you simply throw out the coupon flyers in your newspaper, you are missing the boat. Products you wouldn't normally think of offer neat, reasonably priced, items. I recently found Rice-A-Roni offered a kitchen timer in the shape of a cable car that plays their theme ditty instead of a ring or buzzer.
And lastly, search the web.
The whole idea here is that this area of collectibles is dedicated to total fun! So, go ahead and have some! Ad Art is everywhere! And, its "pretty neat stuff" as my son, so eloquently, puts it.