Leo Burnett

Annapolis ad man one of the brains behind the Crash Test Dummies

Annapolis marketing executive Joel Machak relished the challenge thrown his way 25 years ago when he worked for a Chicago ad agency: Create a public service campaign to promote the use of seat belts.

It was a daunting task. In 1985, fewer than one in five Americans wore seat belts, and many believed it would be safer in an accident to be thrown from a car. All of the TV spots on seat belt use at the time were somber, and some of them were terrifying. Moreover, Machak and a colleague thought, none of them worked.

Enter Vince and Larry, the walking, talking and funny Crash Test Dummies. Machak and a fellow associate creative director at the Leo Burnett advertising agency came up...