Retro Commercials: Slip ‘N Slide

I don’t know about you, but commercials can often take me back to my formative years as quickly as any song or movie can. That is why we will continue this semi-regular feature on ’80s commercials that I consider particularly memorable, noteworthy, or forgotten. Television commercials were much more influential back when we were forced to watch them without the luxury to fast-forward through and/or stream shows with limited or no interruptions. This issue will cover the Slip ‘N Slide summer commercials from ’80s.

Summer in the ’80s meant finding fun ways to cool down and enjoy the refreshing water. This often included swimming in pools or going to the beach, running through a sprinkler, water gun/balloon fights and quite possibly partaking in the exhilarating danger of a Slip ‘N Slide. The Slip ‘N Slide was invented back in 1960 then sold to Wham-O who introduced it to the world at the New York Toy Fair in February of 1961. Wham-O had previous toy successes with the Hula Hoop (1957) and the Frisbee (1959) and then later successes with SuperBall (1964), Silly String (1969) and the Hacky Sack (1983) among many others. Wham-O had a way of both predicting toy popularity, picking items that were simple and inexpensive to produce and then marketing them in a way that drove huge consumer demand. The Slip ‘N Slide was certainly no exception.

Wham-O’s early TV advertisements made the Slip ‘N Slide a summer must-have. For those who couldn’t afford a swimming pool of their own or just wanted some variety, the Slip ‘N Slide was a relatively inexpensive alternative to still have fun and cool off. Though the popular summer toy was temporarily discontinued in the ’70s, it was re-released in the mid-80s after Wham-O changed ownership in 1982.  With the re-launch, some new commercials were also released which I remember being played heavily during weekday afternoon and Saturday morning cartoons in those hot Summer months. Though the commercials featured a very cheesy song, seeing those happy kids hydroplaning along that strip of yellow plastic while friends lined up for a turn sure made you want to join in the fun. It made you want to slip and slide, too.

Here was the first commercial used for the mid-80s relaunch of Slip ‘N Slide in 1985…

Here is another one updated for 1988…

Here is another one from the late-80s for the Slip ‘N Splash which features a kid looking very ’80s wearing a bright shirt with a popped collar and some Wayfarer-like sunglasses…

The Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) and Wham-O now recommend that the use of the Slip ‘N Slide is only for children to avoid potential back and neck injuries when it is used by adults and teenagers. People older than children might stop suddenly when diving onto the toy due to the weight or height. Between 1973 and 1991, a 13-year-old child and at least seven adults suffered neck injuries or paralysis while using Slip ’N Slides. Those numbers may not tell the whole story as a consumer advocacy group known as the Consumer Affairs Committee of Americans for Democratic Action reported in 1989 that 5,000 people had gone to the hospital for slide-related injuries in 1988 alone. In 1993, CPSC provided an official recall notice along with Kransco, which owned Wham-O at the time, to warn users of the dangers, but the product was not taken off the market completely just simply recommended for use only by children. I can attest to this recommendation first hand as I decided to relive my youth on a Slip ‘N Slide a few years ago and, though I was not seriously injured (to my knowledge), I definitely felt the effects for quite some time after.

Slip ‘N Slides are still sold in stores and the box includes a warning that they are for use by children 12 or under, but that doesn’t stop many adults (including me) from giving it a try. The potential danger has not stopped the Slip ‘N Slide from become one of the best selling Summer toys of all time. As of 2011, it is reported that more than 30 million had been sold and I am sure that number has continued to grow in the years following. In late 2018, another consumer watchdog group, World Against Toys Causing Harm, released their list of the most dangerous toys on the market and among them the list included water balloon slingshots, backyard pools and the Slip ‘N Slide. Those were all some of the best ways to cool off during the summer back in the ’80s. And that is probably why all of those including the Slip ‘N Slide are still being sold today.

There you go, another trip down memory lane in the form of TV commercials. When I watch the commercials for Slip ‘N Slide it takes me right back to those Summers as a kid growing up in the ’80s. 

More Retro Commercial Features on TRN

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About OldSchool80s 87 Articles
Old School Tim has an adoring devotion to the awesome '80s decade. He loves to relive and share that nostalgia on a regular basis. The Kickin' it Old School blog site has been retired, but you can still get daily doses of '80s goodness on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and anywhere else they let him.

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