Guide to the Alka-Seltzer Documentation and Oral History Project
Digitized Content

Summary
Collection ID:
NMAH.AC.0184
Creators:
Archives Center, NMAH, SI.
Dates:
1953-1987
Languages:
English
Collection is in English.
Physical Description:
16 Boxes
Repository:
The Alka-Seltzer Oral History and Documentation Project is a result of a one year effort supported, in part, by Miles Laboratories, Incorporated. Twenty-four oral history interviews and a variety of related materials were gathered to document Alka- Seltzer advertising, primarily from the mid-1950s to the 1980s. The project covers "Speedy" Alka-Seltzer, "Oh what a relief it is," "The Blahs," "Alka Seltzer on the rocks," and "I can't believe I ate the whole thing" campaigns

Scope and Contents
Scope and Contents
Oral histories with individuals associated with Alka-Seltzer and its advertising campaigns are at the core of the Alka-Seltzer Documenation and Oral History Project. Conducted by Smithsonian Institution staff, the oral histories primarily examine Alka-Seltzer's innovative and memorable print and television commercials. Abstracts exist for each interview.The collection also includes background information, archival materials from Miles Laboratories, Inc., television commercials, storyboards, and company publications.

Arrangement
Arrangement
The collection is arranged in 8 series.
Series 1: Research Files, circa 1930-1986
Series 2: Interviewee Files, 1986-1987
Series 3: Oral Histories, 1986-1987
Subseries 3.1: Original Interviews
Subseries 3.2: Reference Cassettes
Subseries 3.3: Master Audio Tapes
Series 4: Miles Archives Materials, 1931-1980
Subseries 4.1: Marketing Research and Sales Data
Subseries 4.2: Alka-Seltzer Storyboards and History (Photocopies)
Subseries 4:3: Miles Advertising History and Oral History Program(photocopies)
Series 5: Company Publications, 1960-1986
Series 6: Photographs, circa 1950-1985
Series 7: Alka-Seltzer Posters, 1967-1986
Series 8: Audiovisual Materials
Subseries 8.1: Original Masters
Subseries 8.2: Reference Videos

Biographical / Historical
Biographical / Historical
The Alka-Seltzer Oral History and Documentation Project is a result of a one year effort supported, in part, by Miles Laboratories, Incorporated Twenty-four oral history interviews and a variety of related materials were gathered to document Alka- Seltzer advertising, primarily from the mid-1950s to the 1980s. The project covers "Speedy" Alka-Seltzer, "Oh what a relief it is," "The Blahs," "Alka Seltzer on the rocks," and "I can't believe I ate the whole thing" campaigns.
Miles Laboratories, Incorporated, the maker of Alka-Seltzer, and Wade Advertising of Chicago established a light-hearted advertising approach with the iconic puppet "Speedy", which had a tablet for a body and a smaller one for a hat. Speedy came to life through stop motion animation, a technique in which each of the puppet's movements was captured on a separate frame of film. The voice of Richard Beals made "Speedy" a distinctive character.
"Speedy" was a mainstay of Alka Seltzer advertising until 1964, when Miles,Incorporated took the account to Jack Tinker & Partners in New York. The agency's work for Alka-Seltzer embodied what came to be called advertising's "creative revolution," replacing the "talking heads" and "hard sell" of earlier advertising with humor, wit, and engaging storylines, even within the limits of a 30 second television spot. In 1969, the Alka Seltzer account went to Doyle, Dane, Bernbach, an agency which changed the look of print advertising during the early years of the "creative revolution." In 1970, Alka-Seltzer moved agencies to Wells, Rich, Greene, where the product's advertising came under the direction of Mary Wells Lawrence. Ms. Lawrence had worked on the Alka Seltzer account while at Tinker and continued Alka Seltzer's reputation for innovative and captivating work. In 1984 they shifted to McCann Erickson.

Administration
Processing Information
Collection processed by Stacy Flaherty and Mona Morris, 1988, revised by Mimi Minnick, archivist, 1991.
Author
Stacy Flaherty and Mona Morris
Immediate Source of Acquisition
Collection donated by Miles Laboratories in 1988 and created by the Smithsonian Institution in 1986 and 1987.

Using the Collection
Conditions Governing Access
Researchers may use reference copies only. The interview with Charles Chaplin is restricted and may not be copied or quoted until his death.
Preferred Citation
Alka-Seltzer Oral History and Documentation Project, 1953-1987, Archives Center, National Museum of American History, Smithsonian Institution.
Conditions Governing Use
Collection items available for reproduction, but the Archives Center makes no guarantees concerning copyright restrictions. Other intellectual property rights may apply. Archives Center cost-recovery and use fees may apply when requesting reproductions.

Keywords
Keywords table of terms and types.
Keyword Terms Keyword Types
Videotapes Type Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
advertising -- History -- 1950-1990 Topic Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Audiocassettes Type Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Publications -- Business Type Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Pharmaceutical industry -- 1950-1990 Topic Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Television advertising Topic Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Commercials Type Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Elkhart (Ind.) -- 1950-1990 Place Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Medicine Topic Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Motion pictures (visual works) -- 20th century Type Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Audiotapes -- 1950-2000 Type Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Broadcast advertising Topic Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Business records -- 1950-2000 Type Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Business -- History Topic Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Case, Eugene Personal Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Chaplin, Charles Personal Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Beals, Richard Personal Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Jack Tinker & Associates. Corporate Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Lawrence, Mary Wells Personal Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Doyle Dane Bernbach. Corporate Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Alka-Seltzer Corporate Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Miles, Franklin, Dr. Personal Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Griffith, Barbara S., Dr. Personal Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Miles Laboratories, Inc. Corporate Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid

Repository Contact
Archives Center, National Museum of American History
P.O. Box 37012
Suite 1100, MRC 601
Washington, D.C. 20013-7012
archivescenter@si.edu
http://americanhistory.si.edu/archives