In 1956, Heublein, Inc., a successful company which imported distilled liquors, A-1 Steak Sauce, Grey-Poupon Mustard and Sizzl-Spray, purchased the Maltex Company, creators of Maypo, a maple-syrup flavored hot cereal.
Hoping for substantial losses to write off as tax deductible expenses, Heublein, Inc. decided to launch an expensive TV campaign for the poorly selling Maltex product.
Heublien, Inc. approached John Hubley, to create this doomed TV campaign. Hubley had worked on such Disney films as Snow White, Pinocchio, Fantasia, Bambi and Dumbo. His creative talent played a significant role in changing the animation industry. Hubley had his first commercial success with "Mister Magoo" and Gerald McBoing Boing, which won an Academy Award.
However, despite Hubley's excellent reputation, he was known to be notoriously independent and difficult. Heublien, Inc. gave Hubley total artistic freedom with the only instruction "make a commercial that's not a commercial, just do a slice of life, a dramatic piece".
Hubley wanted the commercial to be something natural and truthful with a nonprofessional actor. His main idea focused on a situation familiar to every home, a scene in which a child refuses to eat his food.
To produce the natural sounds and jabber of children, John followed his four-year old around with a microphone. During recordings with his son, Marky, Hubley did not use a script. When Marky mispronounced energy as "enjerny", they did not replace the mistake but kept recording. John gathered the best lines and adapted the storyboard around the unrehearsed conversations.
The commercial had to appeal to kids, so it was done from a child's point of view. John wanted Marky to be as children see themselves.
In September 1956, Marky Maypo made his debut on New York and New England stations.
The ad increased sales of Maypo "an average of 78% and as high at 186% in some markets." Much to the shock of the Heublein management, the sixty-second spotlight was a smash hit. Millions of American children began screaming, "I WANT MY MAYPO!"
In 1960, John Hubley produced a second Marky Maypo commercial but by that time, his relationship with the Heublein, Inc. was quickly deteriorating.
The main conflict between the parties was the merchandising of Marky Maypo. Hubley felt that plastering Marky on packages and various items to promote Maypo was vulgar; after all, this was his animated son. Heublein tried to merchandise Marky in several ways only to be blocked by Hubley's contract.
In the 1960's, Heublein, Inc. bought John Hubley out of his contract. Hueblien, Inc. immediately produced a nine-inch vinyl Marky bank available for boxtops.
However, without Hubley's creative ideas, Maypo's market share quickly slipped away and the Maltex Company was soon sold to American Home Products.
Although, the relationship between Hubley and Hueblien did not last, it created a new method of marketing by popularizing the use of animation in advertising and forever tying consumers and commercials together.
In 2001, the new owners of Maypo, Homesat Farm, Ltd., gave Marky Maypo an extreme makeover. He is still wearing his familiar cowboy hat and kerchief, however, he now sports a modern 21st century appearance.