The Smile Machine

Invented by artist Dick Turner in 1992. The organizers of the 1994 Winter Olympics in Lillehammer then got wind of it, and decided it would be "the perfect way to make light of Norwegians' reputation as a dour people and ordered 100,000 of them for Olympic workers and town residents to wear."

But they did this without crediting Turner at all. Nor did they order the smile machines from him. When Turner complained, someone from the Norwegian embassy in Washington called him "and acknowledged that the Smile Machine was his idea but said nothing further could be done about it."

More info: Baltimore Sun (Feb 7, 1994)
Image source: ideoideo

     Posted By: Alex - Wed Mar 14, 2018
     Category: Inventions | 1990s

That ad is surreal. Even the clouds behave better. And of course, scantly-clad women testify to the claims.
Posted by Virtual on 03/14/18 at 09:44 AM
I notice that the "Smile Machine" has a trademark associated with it. If I understand the definition correctly, his product did have that mark associated with it on the U.S. packaging and he may have had a case under some international trademark agreement. I would like to see how the Norwegians respond if the roles were reversed. Unfortunately, I can't think of any Norwegian popular product worldwide, other than Garrison Keillor's "Norwegian bachelor farmers" who lived around Lake Woebegon.
Posted by KDP on 03/14/18 at 02:48 PM
The person on the right must be a big fan of Moe Howard of the Three Stooges.
Posted by Fritz G on 03/15/18 at 06:38 AM
KDP: the trademark is only on the name, not the invention itself. If he wanted the idea protected, he could've taken out a patent, but he didn't (and it appears, intentionally). I can't find whether the Lillehammer committee used the name"Smile Machine", but if they only used a similar (or even identical) contraption under a different name, they're completely in the clear.
Posted by Richard Bos on 03/17/18 at 08:10 AM
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