In 1969, Swiss advertising agency Gerstner, Gredinger + Kutter (GGK) launched an innovative campaign for Germany’s most popular soft drink: Sinalco Kola (distinct for its “sherbet powder” taste). It starred a brightly colored, life-sized blow-up party doll named Rita. With striking red hair, curly lashes, lush shapes, and a Sinalco Kola in hand, the campaign slogan boasted “Rita ist lieb,” which in English translates to “Rita is sweet.” “She will follow you everywhere: to parties, seaside holidays, or even into the bathtub. She does not smoke, does not drink, does not scold. Rita is all yours and she is not an expensive girl: she comes to you through the mail for 6,60 Deutsche Marks.” Yes, besides this colossal beauty’s presence in magazine advertisements, insert posters, TV ads, and in-store displays all over Germany, you could also have an inflatable Rita sent directly to your home for about $4 US.
Within two years of the campaign’s launch, Rita had quickly achieved cult status and helped Sinalco garner tons of attention, but more importantly, a unique personification and lasting impression that would help separate their brand from ubiquitous competitors such as Coca-Cola. In March of 1971, several inflated Rita’s were thrown from the roof of the Rhein-Main-Halle building during a trade fair as part of a spontaneous marketing stunt. Dozens of excited Wiesbaden residents ran through the streets with their Rita dolls, continuing their celebration in local pubs and train stations. By the mid-‘70s, every hippie in Germany owned this eye-catching piece of plastic pop art, and Rita’s became very common at public gatherings: from crowd surfing at outdoor music festivals to political protests. A male counterpart to Rita was created: a macho, muscular, spandex wearing man pathetically nicknamed “The Guy,” but Rita proved that her popularity could never be matched.
Rita blow-up party dolls can still be found floating around Germany, occasionally someone will sell one on eBay. She typically goes for about 70 euros, who can score me one?
More after the jump…