Maybe She Could Sell Ice Cream
By Art Buchwald
Los Angeles Times Syndicate
Tuesday, March 22, 1994; Page C1
It isn't as easy to sell Tonya Harding commercially as one might think. At one time she was hot on the testimonial advertising circuit. But for some reason after she plea-bargained I couldn't get any interest in her.
Apart from the TV miniseries and "Inside Edition," the only ones to make a firm offer for Tonya's services are the Japanese wrestling promoters who feel that Tonya is made for the sport. I told them I would like to see some yen before I closed a deal.
I called the Mega Billiard Cue people and suggested that Tonya do commercials for them. I thought that she could hold the Mega cue in her hand and give it credit for furthering her career. They didn't say no right away.
Next I telephoned the Atlas Shoelace Co. and told them they were missing a sure bet if they didn't hire Tonya to push their "unbreakable" shoelaces.
I made the pitch, "The opening scene of the commercial would be in Norway showing a tearful Tonya with her leg up on the judges' table, pointing to a broken shoelace. In the next scene she would be wearing your shoelaces and skating around happy as a lark.
"Tonya's everyone's Tinker Bell," I assured him.
"Or 'Casey at the Bat,' " he suggested.
I didn't do too well with Coca-Cola either. I pitched a commercial with Tonya doing a half-dozen Lutzes, and then she picks up the ice from the rink and puts it in her diet drink.
They didn't think that Tonya could sell much Coke since she finished eighth in the Olympics.
"Whom are you going to hire?" I asked the man.
"Nancy Kerrigan. She has better legs."
I decided that my best chance was a sporting goods company like Wilson. I phoned and said, "I can get you Tonya Harding at a very low price. She could sell tennis rackets for you."
The gentleman at Wilson listened politely and said, "Wasn't she given probation for interfering in the investigation of an assault on a rival skater?"
"She's had problems with ice skating, but she's absolutely clean when it comes to tennis. You better sign her up right away before someone like Head does."
He declined my offer on the grounds that the minute people saw Tonya they would think of lacrosse rather than tennis.
I spoke to McDonald's, and they said they already had Kerrigan. This time I blew my stack.
"Why Nancy Kerrigan? Tonya has much more feeling for Big Macs than Nancy."
"Possibly, but Nancy has a bigger name, except with the Portland Probation Board."
I was stumped. Here I had one of the greatest skating stars in America, and I couldn't sell her to anybody.
My last call was to the milk people. I told them, "If anyone can sell milk, it's Tonya."
He said, "We were thinking about letting her take a whack at the account, but we had a change of heart at the last minute."
"You'll be sorry," I warned him. "Tonya would make the perfect spokesperson for milk. Everyone who watches television in America still thinks of her as the girl next door."
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