Can Mr. Potato Head Deflect Etch-A-Sketch Damage?

Photograph by Eric Thayer/The New York Times/Redux

Newt Gingrich with an Etch A Sketch at a campaign event at Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge on March 22, 2012.

There are a few ways to manage a gaffe.

Making light  of it is one way.

It was Eric Fehrnstrom, longtime political adviser to Mitt Romney, who gave birth to the metaphor that the Republican candidate for president may have a hard time shaking.

“Etch A Sketch.”

Mere mention of a favorite children’s toy dating to the 1950s prompted more than a deluge of criticism from Romney’s rivals, seeking to make the name stick on a candidate who has taken a few different stances on issues in his career. It moved the stock of toymaker Ohio Art Co.  The Bryan, Ohio-based company was delighted —   “If you went out and tried to buy this kind of media coverage,  it would be impossible,” said Martin Killgallon, senior vice president for marketing and product development.

So the makers of Mr. Potato Head may welcome Fehrnstrom’s strategic followup:  “Etch A Sketch stock is up? Psst, I’ll mention Mr. Potato Head next. Buy Hasbro,” Fehrnstrom wrote on Twitter.

More publicity that money can’t buy for Pawtucket, Rhode-Island-based Hasbro Inc.

Yet whether this gaffe management works may take another Hasbro game to divine the answer: Clue.

 (with thanks to our colleague, Derek Wallbank)

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