Company Chairman Responds to 'Etch A Sketch' Comment

By Rachel Martin

March 22, 2012 Updated Mar 22, 2012 at 11:00 PM EDT

BRYAN, Ohio (Indiana’s NewsCenter) – The chairman of the company that manufactures the Etch A Sketch responds to the political comments made by Mitt Romney’s campaign advisor.

For the past 48 hours, Bill Killgallon says his e-mail box has flooded with media requests—all because of the statement made by Eric Fehrnstrom, Mitt Romney’s Campaign Advisor. But Thursday night, he agreed to an exclusive interview with Indiana’s NewsCenter’s Rachel Martin.

In response to a question regarding preparations from the primary to presidential campaign, Fehrnstrom said, "It's almost like an etch-a-sketch. You can kind of shake it up and restart it all over again."

“We've been drawn into the phrase, so to speak,” laughed Killgallon, Chairman of the Ohio Art Company, the manufacturer responsible for the Etch A Sketch.

In the days following, Rick Santorum and Newt Gingrich were seen toting Etch A Sketches and making Romney the butt of their jokes. But if Romney is hurting from this, Killgallon is surely benefitting.

“It's brought a lot of publicity again to a 52-year-old product,” he said.

Since the comment, executives at Ohio Art say the company's stock has more than doubled, from $4 to $12.50—a 52-week high—although it later dropped to $9.65. Executives say the toy broke into the Top 100 best selling items on Amazon.com, is the Top Five most researched word on Yahoo.com, and was the number one trending topic on Twitter.

But despite all that, Killgallon says he wants to "capitalize" on the matter and use the Etch A Sketch to assist in political unity.

“What we’re trying to do is to see whether or not our Etch A Sketch, with the publicity it’s just received, can somehow assist in bringing us together,” Killgallon said. “By erasing some of the bad feelings we have between parties, between candidates.”

He went on to say, “We can 'erase' some of the national debt and that state debt that are confronting our country. We’d be very honored to be part of that.”

Killgallon says he already has a folder thick of ideas on how implement the toy politically, one specifically using a lapel pin.

“Doing something with ‘Shake Up America’. This is the lapel pin, you wear it very proudly because we know as voters, as citizens, something has to be done,” he said. “I think the main problem is the availability of funds to pay for the programs, at the state and federal level. It’s unsustainable unless there is more money taken from individuals or more money generated through corporate taxes. It has to come from somewhere.”

But as a former campaign worker for Richard Nixon, Killgallon says he understands politics.

“It’s a political campaign strategy. No matter what a person says, they're going to attack it generally,” he said. “I know that during the primary you’re campaigning against Republicans or you’re campaigning against Democrats—one versus the other. In the general election you’re campaigning against the opposite party. So yes, the large strategy may not change, but the tactics and what you say definitely changes because you’re dealing with different people and different philosophies.”

But if there’s one thing Killgallon could say to Romeny, “Well selfishly I would say, ‘don't fire the campaigner, worker, who mentioned Etch A Sketch.’ Right now we should hire him,” said Killgallon with a grin.

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