Remember the Nauga, the adorable toy monster mascot for Naugahyde vinyl upholstery?

Nauga, the adorable toy monster mascot for Naugahyde vinyl upholstery

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For some products, a cute mascot seems to make sense — like the Pillsbury Dough Boy or Kellogg’s Tony the Tiger.

But to take something as boring as the vinyl used on chairs and suitcases, and create an adorable monster-like mascot to represent the brand? That takes talent.

Here’s the story of how the Nauga was discovered in his natural habitat.

Nauga is worth 1,000 words (1967)

By Lynn Taylor – The Chicago Tribune (Illinois) November 27, 1967

The Nauga is a mythical beast. It has a chameleon-type nature which takes on the appearance of cow’s hide, alligator, linen, wool, silk, tweed, brocade, etc., etc.

In other words, to describe this myth is not simple. United States Rubber company has been trying to answer the oft-asked question [What’s a Nauga?] for 15 years, putting out reams of literature to describe its Naugahyde fabric.

This year, Papert, Koenig, Lois, Inc., solved the problem with some swift, colorful strokes.

The first Nauga-beast ad appeared in Life, Better Homes and Gardens, and McCalls in September.

Its success as a salesman since its introduction has been overwhelming, Jack Trout, United States Rubber company’s advertising manager for home furnishings admits.

The Nauga with a cow (1967)

Fan mail pours in

“We were amazed. Teenagers especially have responded. Some have written to us saying they have formed fan clubs for the Nauga. A couple of schools have adopted it as their mascot.

“When you walk across town [New York City] carrying it, girls stop you and say, ‘There’s a Nauga, Where did you get it?'” Trout said, not at all annoyed.

There is more than merriment behind the image of the Nauga, though. “It filled a gap. We needed a point-of-sale image, a jolly-green-giant thing,” Trout said. And so the Nauga-beast was developed.

Besides its use in national advertising, it has been made into small tags which are attached to items made of Naugahyde.

Many persons have tried to buy a copy of the Nauga, but the company, which has copyrighted it, so far only has made it available in a miniature size with a reupholstering job.

Trout said he didn’t know if they ever would sell it commercially.

Before there was Nauga Naugahyde from United States Rubber (1959)
Before there was Nauga: Naugahyde furniture from United States Rubber (1959)

Copy bright, too

The Nauga has been pictured in ads with children, at a cocktail party, on a train platform with luggage, and with a cow. Copy matches the lightheartedness of the pictures.

The reupholstering ad points out there are 500 colors and textures “to make a chair grateful.”

For the next year, United States Rubber plans wider use of the Nauga including to promote its Naugahyde footware, Trout said. “And we now have a vehicle to move into other markets.”

So the Nauga, which began years ago as a sort of a joke, has, at the tender age of 2 months, turned into the company’s top salesman.

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Heard the one about the traveling Nauga? (1967)

It has a clean ending.

The Nauga is ugly, but his vinyl hide is beautiful. Naugahyde vinyl fabric. Buy luggage made of Naugahyde, and you’ll never cuss out a porter again. Naugahyde won’t crack, stain or race toward shabbiness. And it cleans up with a wipe of a sponge.

Another thing. You can put on the dog. People will think you’re sporting real leather.

Naugahyde is one of the biggest reasons leading luggage manufacturers are the leading luggage manufacturers.

The imaginary Nauga’s picture is on every piece of Naugahyde luggage. Look for him. Then you’ll know the luggage you buy is stronger than dirt. (If you can’t find the Nauga, find another store.)

Remember — The Nauga is ugly, but his vinyl hide is beautiful.

Heard the one about the traveling Nauga (1967)

The indestructible Nauga

Sadder but wiser mothers pray for permanent furniture. The Nauga answers those prayers. With the hide off his back. Naugahyde vinyl fabric.

Sep 15 1967 Nauga

The Nauga is ugly… (1967)

This is the Nauga, and he is the greatest. Once a year he sheds his hide for the good of mankind. His hide, happily, is Naugahyde vinyl fabric.

Naugahyde: the prettiest, toughest, most versatile fabric known to man. It can look like anything. Rich silk. Rough tweed. Shiny plastic. Brocade. Burlap! Bamboo, for heaven’s sake.

Any fabric man has made, Naugahyde can duplicate. (And it lasts about ten times as long.)

ALSO SEE: See the vintage card tables & folding furniture almost everyone used to have

One problem. Certain careless, or indiscriminate salespeople think vinyl is vinyl. Uh uh. Don’t fall for it. Just-any-old-vinyl is not the same as Naugahyde. We know it, and a few months after you buy it you’ll know it, too.

So look for the imaginary Nauga’s picture. It hangs on every piece of furniture made with real Naugahyde. If you can’t find the Nauga, find another store.

Remember: the Nauga is ugly, but his vinyl hide is beautiful. 


The Nauga is ugly - Naugahyde (1967)

Sep 1, 1967 vinyl furniture Naugahyde

Cover your rottenest chair with my vinyl hide – Naugahyde – and get 2 things:

1) A beautiful chair

2) A beautiful Nauga doll exactly like me for just $1!

Oct 20 1967 Nauga

NOW SEE THIS: Vintage dinettes from the ’60s & ’70s: Take a seat

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