Vince and Larry - Otherwise known as "The
Crash Test Dummies," Vince and Larry were two hardworking crash test dummies who
appeared in a series of public service announcement jointly produced by the Ad
Council and the U.S. Department of Transportation's National Highway Traffic
Safety Administration beginning in 1985.
In the commercials (created by the Leo Burnett Ad Agency), Vince and Larry
actively demonstrated what could happen when a person did not wear a seatbelt.
Unlike, humans who die or become crippled in real crashes, Vince and Larry
dusted themselves off after each crash and lived to joke another day.
Vince (who wears grey) is the veteran of the duo while Larry, (who wears
blue) is the new comer - eager to prove himself and ready to loose an arm, leg
or head for the cause.
The success of the Crash Test Dummies Seat Belt Education campaign motivated a
large majority of states to enact laws mandating the use of safety belts. In
1990, the campaign was recognized with a Gold Effie award from the New York
chapter of the American Marketing Association.
The popularity of the Crash Dummies inspired the Department of Transportation to sell the merchandising right to a
New Jersey Toy Company in 1992 who created spin-off action figures. This
decision motivated the CBS, ABC and NBC networks to pull off the air (for a
time) the Vince and Larry ad campaign to disassociate the toy's message of
"mayhem" from the ad council's original message of safety. In 1993/94, there was
also a computer game developed by Software Creations called "The Incredible
The program featured a storyline about a kidnapped crash dummy
designer named Dr. Zub who is kidnapped by the villain Junkman. It's up to the
Crash Dummies to save the day and rescue the Zub, But first they must overcome
many junkbot obstacles as they drive through the Crash Test Center, Construction
Site, and Military Testing Zone.
Reportedly, by 1994, seat belt usage had increased from 21% to 73%, saving an estimated 75,000 lives and
preventing more than 1.5 million moderate to critical injuries.
In 1999, Vince and Larry along with their campaign tagline, "You Could Learn A Lot From a
Dummy" were retired when the U.S. Department of Transportation revised the
campaign. The new slogan advised "Buckle Up. Always."
TRIVIA NOTE: When the Crash Test Dummies made personal appearances, local actors
were hired to wear their costumes. To preserve the integrity of the original TV
and radio voices, Vince and Larry never talked in person. They just do skits and
interviews using a pre-recorded tape.
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