McGruff Takes a Bite Out of Crime Pt. 1

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Willa Paskin: When Daniel Danger was growing up in the early 1990s, he had a number of run ins with this one particular dog.

Speaker 2: It was just this weird presence, you know, this weird, grumpy old cartoon dog.

Speaker 3: I’m McGruff a crime dog.

Willa Paskin: McGruff was a trenchcoat wearing bloodhound with a hangdog demeanour who dispensed advice about crime prevention, personal safety, guns and drugs.

Speaker 3: Oh, you don’t know me. See, it’s my job to teach you to protect yourselves. Make it your job to learn.

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Willa Paskin: He also had a catchphrase.

Speaker 3: Picked up by that crime.

Willa Paskin: He was a regular presence at Daniel’s Massachusetts elementary school. He was on the outside of it.

Speaker 2: There was, like, an event where you brought your bike to school, and then they would put a big flag on it. And I remember McGruff being there in person.

Willa Paskin: And he was on the inside, too.

Speaker 2: With like, you know, wheeling the TV on a cart and and put in a little VHS of McGruff telling you to avoid strangers and not get, like, touched by people or get into cars.

Speaker 3: That’s Jenny. But that’s not Jenny’s dad.

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Speaker 2: Basically telling you you’re going to get kidnapped, which is a dark thing to tell a fifth grader.

Speaker 3: If she gets into that.

Speaker 4: Car.

Speaker 3: That may be the last time you’ll see Jenny.

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Speaker 2: We had the puppet.

Willa Paskin: This would have been a two foot tall, chocolaty brown, a hand puppet in plaid pants and a trenchcoat.

Speaker 2: There was a cassette tape that the teacher put in, and then they would mimic along with the puppet, and they’d teach you, like, you know, like, I don’t do drugs, don’t believe blah, blah, blah.

Speaker 5: Hello, everybody. McGruff here.

Speaker 2: I just want to remind you that we all have a.

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Speaker 5: Job to do. Take a bite out of crime. You can make your life easier.

Willa Paskin: After elementary school, Daniel’s encounters with McGruff petered out. He didn’t think of him much until the mid 2000, when he and a friend were at a thrift store.

Speaker 2: In the pile of just like random stuff was a McGruff puppet. And this cassette tape.

Willa Paskin: The cassette tape was called McGruff Smart Kids album. On the cover, a plush McGruff like the one that had been in Daniel’s classroom, leans against a brick wall, one arm slung over it, and the other hand in a trench coat pocket.

Speaker 2: And we had that, like, you know, like just nostalgic of, like, McGruff, remember McGruff. And so we bought this cassette and we, like, put it in the car and listened to it.

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Speaker 5: Marijuana.

Speaker 6: Don’t try it at all.

Speaker 5: It’s like beating your head on a wall. Using crack and cocaine. To get high. That’s what you say, you know. But it’s really insane. You could die.

Speaker 2: What are you thinking at all? Or I kind of catch either. Weird. They sound like Steely Dan. Like, it doesn’t make any sense.

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Speaker 5: Hey, open up your eyes. You got to see alcohol fills your world with lies. Listen to me.

Speaker 4: Me.

Speaker 5: It’s no good when your brain can tell you it won’t show you the way.

Willa Paskin: When I first heard these songs, I felt genuinely overwhelmed. Flummoxed that such a tape could exist, that it could be real. And as the car filled up with an unholy combination of music, melody, character and message, Daniel was confounded, too.

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Speaker 2: I want to know who actually wrote these. These songs are kind of banger.

Willa Paskin: This is decoder ring. I’m Willa Paskin McGruff. The crime dog arrived on the scene at the dawn of the 1980s just as a firehose of public service announcements, particularly about drugs, was about to flood over the youth of America, inundating them in messages about what to do think fear and say no to. Over the next two episodes, we’re going to be looking at PSA as their efficacy and strange afterlife through the story of one trenchcoat wearing spokes dog and his bizarre, yet catchy anti-drug anthems. It’s a tale that involves, in just this first episode, a so-called war at the Department of Justice. A first lady on a mission, celebrity sing alongs, Sunday school puppets, and the messages people think will work on kids.

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Willa Paskin: So today, under Coterie, the first episode in a two parter about one very special message. How did McGruff and his Smart Kids album come to exist? The first time the public met the crime dog in February of 1980, he was letting himself into a stranger’s house.

Speaker 3: You know what I think? I think you forgot to lock your door.

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Willa Paskin: He was so new that it didn’t even have a name yet. He’d only become McGruff a few months later after a naming contest. Even so, he was already on the job, carrying a flashlight and imparting common sense advice about how to deter robberies.

Speaker 3: Light up your doors and lights. Make burglars nervous and make your windows secure.

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Willa Paskin: McGruff owes his existence to crime, which spiked over the course of the 1970s. By the end of the decade, the issue had become a motivating anxiety for voters. So the Department of Justice decided to put $300,000 towards a public service campaign addressing it, and they reached out to the Ad Council to get it made. The Ad Council is a non-profit arm of the advertising industry that gets blue chip ad agencies to do Pro-bono PSA is founded during World War Two to help with the war effort and also brush up the industry’s reputation. The Ad Council is responsible for a number of very memorable campaigns, but maybe none more so than one of its first.

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Speaker 5: You have so many reasons to protect your forests. Remember, only you can prevent forest fires.

Willa Paskin: That’s Smokey the Bear. He began demonstrating that an animal in clothes could be an effective messenger. Back in 1944. But it would take the ad executive in charge of the new campaign a while to remember that.

Speaker 3: They came to us in 1979 and asked us if we would do some advertising campaign that would help decrease crime in this country. Well, you know, that’s a major challenge.

Willa Paskin: Jack Kyle was a creative director at DANCER Fitzgerald Sample, the ad agency tapped by the Ad Council to make the campaign. Kyle died in 2017. What you’re hearing comes from an interview he did with Eric Greenberg.

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Speaker 3: We did a lot of research, a lot of focus groups. I even wrote on the back of a New York City police car.

Willa Paskin: The agency took away two major things from this research. The first was that the cops really wanted community help. And the second was that citizens felt like crime was too big, too insurmountable a problem to do anything about.

Speaker 3: We came up with a strategy to try and convince people or were a little things that they could do to help make their lives safer and help decrease crime, even if only in our neighborhood.

Willa Paskin: But even with a strategy, a clear idea of what the campaign should communicate, they didn’t have a clear idea of what the ads should be. Just a very fast approaching deadline.

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Willa Paskin: Days before Jack had to pitch something, a cross-country flight he was on, it made an emergency stopover in Kansas City.

Speaker 3: So there we were in the middle of the Kansas City Airport at two in the morning. And I said, let me just sit and think and think and think and doodle and see if I can create something. And I thought maybe we need a cartoon of Smokey Bear or Smokey Bear was very, very good. Maybe an animal, another animal would be good. And I thought, we’ll have a lion. And then, you know, just a roar, roar of crime or an elephant stomp on crime and none of those you. So I sat back and went back to the strategy, and we were asking the people actually to the snippet crime. And at that point sitting there, that thing I said, snippet crime, bite of crime. And I suddenly I rose right up in my chair and I think I yelled it in the airport, take a bite out of cried. Wow.

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Willa Paskin: The whole thing came to Jack all at once. The character would be a dog, he’d be animated. Everything else would be real. In the TV ads, he’d walk into a crime in progress and talk directly to the audience. There was just one wrinkle in Jack’s sketches. The dog looked like a manger, Snoopy. When he got back to the agency and pitched his team on the concept. They loved everything about it, but the dog.

Speaker 3: Got to have somebody with authority. I said, All right, wise guys, we’ve got 12 hours. I want to see some dogs.

Willa Paskin: Jack assigned five teams to come up with something better.

Speaker 4: Well, the contest was fantastic. Within the agency, everybody was competing with everybody at all hours.

Willa Paskin: Sherry Nemmers is an advertising executive who would go on to create the shaman bear. But back then she was a 21 year old copywriter.

Speaker 4: I’m sorry to tell you, the other word they used at the time was gang bang. We had a gang bang on it.

Willa Paskin: When the teams came back.

Speaker 3: We got a lot of dogs.

Speaker 4: There was a cute little dog named Spot, the Wonder Dog.

Speaker 3: They had a Bulldog J. Edgar Dog, but would not go because part of this campaign was being funded by the Justice Department. And J. Edgar Hoover at that time was head of the Justice Department.

Speaker 4: Another was Sarge. He was a German shepherd.

Speaker 3: So suddenly in came a copywriter Sherry Nemmers and an art director. Ray Privacy. And they just unveiled this dog, this hound dog, with deep studies in a trench coat and his pocket looking with a long nose. They said, this is the dog that we like because he epitomizes all of the private eyes, the investigators we see over time in the movies, and they’re listened to and they’re wise.

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Speaker 4: Jack. He just jumped out of his chair and he just That’s it. He said, that’s it.

Willa Paskin: The first version of the crime dog smoked a cigar, which he would lose and sounded an awful lot like Columbo, the homicide detective played by Peter Falk in the hit 1970s series of the same name.

Speaker 3: One more thing, sir.

Speaker 2: I almost forgot how much time elapsed between the exchange of shots and your getting to the phone booth to call the police.

Willa Paskin: In fact, after Jack and Sherry successfully pitched the crime dog to the Ad Council and the Department of Justice, they batted around the idea of trying to get Peter Falk for The Voice. But for Sherry Nemmers, who would be the point person on the campaign? For over a decade, the crime dog had always sounded like someone else to give it.

Speaker 4: Creating a dog that had an amazing resemblance to two people. One was Columbo and the other was Jack. And Columbo was the one everybody would know, but Jack was the one that we would know.

Willa Paskin: Before becoming an accomplished ad man. Kyle had done some radio voice work as a kid in Rochester, survived 50 bomber missions during World War Two, and then tried to make it as an actor. In his spare time, he sang with a jazz band called The Smug Town Stompers. He was the perfect voice for McGruff.

Speaker 3: All crime needs is a chance to give it the chance.

Willa Paskin: McGruff and the Take a Bite Out of Crime campaign began to roll out in 1980, appearing on posters and billboards and in magazines, newspapers and radio and TV spots. The first three TV ads, in keeping with the original strategy, are very concrete. Keep your lights on. Have someone pick up your mail and join the neighborhood watch.

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Speaker 3: Hey, McGruff Here. See that guy? He’s still on that bike.

Willa Paskin: As McGruff is talking. The camera shows a young white man putting a bike in a van.

Speaker 3: Now, see that lady by? She’s calling the.

Willa Paskin: Cops. It’s an elderly white woman speaking into a giant walkie talkie.

Speaker 3: This is Mamie Marth, part of the eyes and ears patrol of Hartford, Connecticut. 120.

Willa Paskin: Pretty quickly, the early ads seem to make an impact. But what does it mean for a PSA to make an impact? What does it mean for a PSA to work? So PSA is a pretty straightforward proposition. There are announcements that serve the public and so are distributed for free in order to hopefully have some kind of positive effect. But before a PSA can have any effect at all, positive or otherwise, people have to see it. So that’s step one.

Speaker 4: You must get your message in front of the people that you want to try to influence.

Willa Paskin: Joseph Cappella is an emeritus professor at the University of Pennsylvania who studies messaging in politics and public health.

Speaker 4: If you don’t get your message in front of them somehow, then you have no chance of having that message affected. So that’s always principle number one.

Willa Paskin: The term of art here is exposure. Your PSA has to get exposure. Most of them don’t. McGruff though dead within a year, the ads add $100 million worth of donated ad time, which is a lot, and 50% of Americans had seen one. But while exposure is a key first step for a successful PSA, it’s not enough.

Speaker 4: Principal number two is will they pay attention to it?

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Willa Paskin: 50% of Americans seeing an ad sounds like a lot until you realize that just because people have seen something, it doesn’t mean they attended to it at all. Which makes what McGruff did even more impressive. A million people took the time to write in and request the pamphlets he mentions at the end of every ad.

Speaker 3: Right. McGruff Chicago, Illinois. 60652. That’s McGruff Chicago, Illinois. 60652 And you’ll be helping me take up by that I cry.

Willa Paskin: So that’s step two. But getting people to write in for information, as impressive as that is, doesn’t seem like all McGruff was trying to accomplish. He told people to do things, and that’s step three. And it’s also where the efficacy of pieces starts to get really fuzzy. You’re skeptical.

Speaker 4: I’m very.

Willa Paskin: Skeptical. Michael Hobbs is the co-host of the podcast Maintenance Phase, which looks at the junk science behind health and wellness fads.

Speaker 4: Oftentimes, the evidence that they use to show that it worked is things like, you know, 70% of respondents remember seeing the billboards, these things that are like input measures. That’s not, as a society, what we’re actually going for. The purpose of the billboards is to get people like not to smoke weed.

Willa Paskin: Michael is getting at the fine distinction between steps two and three, between what is known as an awareness or exposure campaign and a behavior campaign. Some PSA is are just awareness campaigns. A good example is early HIV assays, which are built to make viewers. Aware that HIV was a disease and of how it could be transmitted.

Speaker 3: How much do you know about AIDS? Looks like we have a couple of things to talk about.

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Willa Paskin: But other pieces are behavior campaigns. They’re raising awareness, but they are also either explicitly or implicitly promoting an action where your seatbelt. Stop littering. Quit smoking. Or in McGruff case.

Speaker 3: While you’re gone, have a neighbor. Keep an eye on your house, You know, pick up your mail, keep the place locked and lived in. And use a timer to turn the lights on and off.

Willa Paskin: But getting people to change their behavior is hard. And even if they do change their behavior, it can be hard to suss out exactly why. Was it the PSA or a whole constellation of messaging and media stories, education and interactions? It’s easier and often faster to measure exposure. And so you hear about how much people saw something, how present a PSA was in their lives. And McGruff was absolutely a smash on this score. By 1984, he was on postage stamps and meeting with the president. He was widely credited with the rise of neighborhood watch programs, which he talked about with Dick Cavett.

Speaker 5: Now, do I understand that neighborhood watch programs have reduced crime in some areas as much as 50%?

Speaker 3: That’s right. But there is more to be done.

Willa Paskin: And he was thought to be fantastic with kids.

Speaker 4: Kids loved him.

Willa Paskin: Sherry Nemmers, who helped create McGruff.

Speaker 4: You know, he’s like a huggable authority figure. So kids listen to him. And we didn’t expect that. We did not expect that kids were going to be the target, but they became the audience for us.

Willa Paskin: And so as the decade progressed, McGruff would be put to work on what was considered to be the pressing issue facing the youth of America.

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Willa Paskin: Drugs. In June of 1971, Richard Nixon announced the United States had a new and dangerous foe.

Speaker 5: America’s public enemy number one in the United States is drug abuse. In order to fight and defeat this enemy, it is necessary to wage a new all out offensive.

Willa Paskin: The press began referring to this offensive as the war on drugs, but in this early phase, it wasn’t as aggressive as it would become.

Speaker 4: Nixon put most of the resources of the federal government in treatment and rehabilitation.

Willa Paskin: David Farber is an historian at the University of Kansas and the editor of the War on Drugs. A History.

Speaker 4: It wasn’t like Nixon was saying Lock them all up, put them away forever. That would be our friend, President Reagan, who did that.

Willa Paskin: In the late 1970s as drug use and violent crime was spiking. Ronald Reagan swept into office promising the electorate a much more punitive approach.

Speaker 2: It’s time for honest talk. All too often, repeat offenders. Habitual law breakers. Career criminals. Call them what you will are robbing, raping and beating with impunity. And as I said, quite literally getting away with murder.

Willa Paskin: At the federal, state and municipal levels. Incarceration rates for drug crimes began to rise dramatically skyrocketing as the crack epidemic began, and they would remain at extraordinarily high levels for decades. Millions of Americans were sent to prison on nonviolent drug charges, a hugely disproportionate percentage of them men of color and black men in particular. And as prisons began to fill the soft power side of the war on drugs was ramping up as well.

Speaker 4: How many of you have heard about the drug problem in our schools?

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Willa Paskin: That’s First Lady Nancy Reagan in a 1983 episode of the hit sitcom Diff’rent Strokes.

Speaker 4: How do you feel about drugs?

Speaker 7: Well, I think drugs are disgusting and I’d never take them. My name is Lisa and I’m a Republican. Thank you, Lisa.

Speaker 4: I have a hunch the Democrats are against drugs too.

Willa Paskin: Soon after taking office. Nancy Reagan selected teen drug abuse as her pet issue. It was, as you just heard, of, bipartisan concern and drug use, particularly of marijuana, was on the rise with teenagers.

Speaker 4: And here it’s a lot of white teenagers, a lot of middle class teenagers, a lot of suburban teenagers. They’re getting stoned and maybe they’re getting stoned a lot.

Willa Paskin: So Nancy Reagan began to visit schools and rehab facilities, crisscrossing the country to speak with children and educators, to go on morning talk shows, trying to bring awareness to this cause. In October of 1983, she visited an advertising agency, Needham Harper, and steers working on the issue. They’d been tapped by the Ad Council to develop a new public service campaign to curtail child drug abuse. She approved of the message so wholeheartedly she pledged to personally get the campaign $25 million worth of media commitments. The ads began to run in 1984.

Speaker 4: Cocaine? No, thanks. No, my man. You want some.

Speaker 3: Nudes?

Speaker 4: No way. If someone offers you drugs instead of say something, you really don’t mean to say no.

Willa Paskin: And she did something else that put this particular saying over the top. She started using it herself.

Speaker 4: Say yes to your life. And when it comes to drugs and alcohol, just say no. And there’s something catchy about it. Let’s let’s not kid ourselves. It’s like a beautiful catch phrase. Just say no.

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Willa Paskin: Hundreds of just say no. Clubs began to pop up in communities and schools across the country, which were also being visited by Dare. Dare stands for drug abuse, resistance, education.

Speaker 6: They still keep knocking on doors.

Willa Paskin: It was created in 1983 when Los Angeles Police Department joined forces with its public schools to send uniformed cops into schools to speak about the dangers of drugs and crime. By the end of the decade, it was federally funded, and in 75% of schools spreading the gospel of just say no with it. Child drug abuse and prevention became the cause du jour. The issue with politicians, public figures, business leaders, law enforcement, educators and celebrities eagerly speaking up to support it. Anti-Drug messaging flourished. The song and music video from 1985 featured Whitney Houston, Latoya Jackson, Arnold Schwarzenegger, David Hasselhoff and the first lady herself. Celebrities did solo pizazz, too.

Speaker 5: I just want to shake some sense of you kids that are using drugs and think about you so your mama don’t. Why?

Willa Paskin: That’s Mr. T. And sitcoms like Punky Brewster spread the message to dad.

Speaker 4: You’re going to party with us.

Willa Paskin: You know, in 1986, against the backdrop of the rising crack epidemic, Reagan signed the Anti-Drug Abuse Act. It earmarked 1.7 billion additional dollars for the war on drugs and established new mandatory minimum prison sentences. Reagan also signed a proclamation declaring the first official, Just say No to Drugs Week. And in this environment that McGruff, the crime dog, decided to lend his voice to the cause. Thanks in part to some Christian puppet masters on the West Coast.

Speaker 5: Users are losers and those of our users. So don’t use. Don’t use drugs. Nice going. Now. Teach it to your mom and dad. And brothers and sisters and friends.

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Willa Paskin: McGruff Smart Kids album, which we played at the top of this episode, was released in 1986, but its origins stretch back to November of 1969, when a new kind of kids television program premiered on PBS, an educational one. Sesame Street reimagined what children’s TV could be and what it could do. And it also made puppets like Oscar the Grouch, Bert and Ernie and Kermit the Frog seemed like a hip and effective way to reach kids.

Speaker 5: We saw what Jim Henson was doing. We thought, Well, let’s just design some puppets for churches. That’s kind of how the company began.

Willa Paskin: That’s my cause. In the early 1970s, his father, Bill Hawes, a music and education minister in Southern California, founded a company called Puppet Productions. Bill died in 2020, but for years he oversaw the company, which made colorful felt puppets like Mr. Crimper, a puppet, make design for a show he developed called Kemper’s Korner.

Speaker 5: Even the ladies. Evening, gents. Welcome to the show. I’d like to introduce myself names. Or don’t you know he works in a soda shop? And he was also a Sunday school teacher. And so the kids would come in and he would order ice cream and they would have issues that would come up in life. I work inside my soda shop from 9 to 5 each day. I talk with all my little friends when they come in from play. Then he would kind of give them kind of a Bible lesson. You know, how to deal with that dispute where God has led. And here I’d like to say I’m glad.

Speaker 6: To be here.

Willa Paskin: Characters like Mr. Quimby or encouraged good Christian values. But they were also the tip of the spear for an elaborate business that involved the company, leading seminars in churches where they would train youth group members in puppetry so that those groups could then buy puppets and shows like Whispers Corner from the company. The shows, which included music, skits and dialogue, were all made and recorded at Puppet headquarters and then sent out to customers.

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Speaker 5: It was a cassette tape with the music and character voices and all that free done, and then they could just play the tape and lip sync to the audio.

Willa Paskin: Mike wrote and produced almost all of the music for these cassettes. Handling a lot of the lyrics was a man named Rob Nelson, who’d started with the company as a puppeteer on a show called Alcohol on Trial.

Speaker 4: It was a pre-recorded thing which featured a character named Zachary Daiquiri. Zachary Daiquiri. You are charged with neglect and attempted murder.

Speaker 5: Of who?

Speaker 4: Of yourself?

Willa Paskin: Zachary. Zachary is a lumberjack looking puppet with a bushy red mustache and flannel shirt.

Speaker 4: Four of his body parts told him what happened when he over consumed alcohol.

Speaker 5: My job is to pump Zach’s blood to all the parts of his body. Now, when he drinks, the alcohol slows me down. I can’t pump as much blood. Zach could have a heart attack. In fact, I could die.

Speaker 4: You know, this was for kids. So we’d go to a school and do this show to educate the kids about the effects of alcohol on the human body.

Willa Paskin: Rob turned out to be such a natural at puppeteering that he was promoted and then promoted again as the business got bigger and bigger.

Speaker 4: And went crazy. In the heyday of, say, the early eighties, we were doing maybe 100,000 puppets a year. We had we had 40 people working in the factory making puppets.

Willa Paskin: Most of their output continued to be Christian themed and educational, but they would also get approached about commissions. And one day they heard from a sheriff’s deputy in San Diego.

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Speaker 4: She was a community officer and she wanted to do crime prevention as part of her presentation, and she wanted to do a puppet show. And so we said, Well, okay, let’s see what we can do with that.

Willa Paskin: So they created a short original show based on factual information. The sheriff supplied them. It contained a couple of songs and one or two puppets so the sheriff could do the whole thing herself. When they were done, they started thinking about who else the program might appeal to. They were a scrappy, small business, always looking for more opportunities. Maybe they could repackage a crime prevention puppet show and sell it to law enforcement. Or hey, maybe they could repackage a crime prevention puppet show and sell it to the crime prevention dog.

Speaker 4: What about this McGruff character? That’s a natural fit. Let’s talk to them.

Willa Paskin: Them was the National Crime Prevention Council, the nonprofit that houses McGruff, but still worked with the Department of Justice and the Ad Council. The first thing they successfully pitched was a life size McGruff puppet that Mike built.

Speaker 5: The puppet would be able to sit up in a police car on the passenger side. So, you know, they would have these McGruff puppets riding around in these cop cars.

Willa Paskin: Then they started making some full mascot suits for law enforcement.

Speaker 5: We came up with some animatronics in it where the eyes would blink, the mouth would open and close, but electronically.

Willa Paskin: Finally, they got permission to record some songs in the voice of McGruff. Or maybe permission is the wrong word.

Speaker 4: Nancy Pieces said this We will give you a license to use the character and you will give us a percentage of whatever money you make on it.

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Willa Paskin: So they started doing what they had been doing for years. Make a puppet record, a show for that puppet. Put that show on a cassette and then sell both in this case to law enforcement.

Speaker 4: So initially it was just for cops. That’s all that they would allow. Then Bill, who was always the let’s push this, you know, really further than we actually can kind of guy said, you know what? Every classroom in America needs a McGruff in it.

Willa Paskin: And that’s how McGruff and his songs began to make their way into Daniel Danger’s Elementary School and car cassette player.

Speaker 5: Mom, maybe other kids are doing drugs, let’s say, in. That’s a really honor.

Willa Paskin: Come along. Next week, we take on the creation of the Smart Kids album and consider the unintended consequences of unleashing something like McGruff and his songs onto the world.

Speaker 6: Just say no.

Willa Paskin: It’s all about the sticky, potent afterlife of even the wackiest messages.

Speaker 2: I just like, I don’t know why I have all this weird crime dog stuff, but like, yeah, I have the puppet.

Willa Paskin: Till then.

Willa Paskin: This is decoder ring. I’m Willa Paskin. You can find me on Twitter at Willa Paskin. And if you have any cultural mysteries you want us to decode, you can email us at Decoder. Ring at Slate.com. This podcast was written by Willa Paskin Decoder Ring is produced by Willa Paskin and Katie Shepherd. We had production help from Sam Kim Editing by Jamie York and Derek John Slate Senior Supervising Producer of Narrative Podcasts. Merritt Jacob is Senior Technical Director.

Willa Paskin: Thank you to Wendy Melillo. Dan McQuade Dale Mantley Larissa Zargeris. Daisy Rosario. Drew Bledsoe. Larry Johnson. Duane Poole. Ari Merkin and Karen Rosen and Eric Greenberg. I’d also like to mention a book that was very helpful in working on this piece. Wendy Melillo is how McGruff and the Crying Indian Changed America A History of Iconic Ad Council Campaigns. If you haven’t yet, please subscribe and rate our feed on Apple Podcasts or ever you get your podcasts. Even better, tell your friends if you’re a fan of the show. I’d also love for you to sign up for a slate plus Slate Plus members get to listen to Decoder Ring without any ads, and their support is crucial to our work. So please go to Slate.com slash Decoder plus to join Slate Plus today. See you next week for part two.

Speaker 6: No, sir. No. Say no.