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Thank you for visiting the online home of The Harvey Ball World Smile Foundation.
This site contains information about the Foundation, its mission, and activities. Also provided is information and links for Smiley Licensing and Merchandising.
In 1963, State Mutual Life Assurance Company in Worcester faced a problem. The Worcester-based firm had purchased Guarantee Mutual Company of Ohio the previous year to work with Worcester Mutual Fire Insurance Company, a State Mutual subsidiary.
Low employee morale in the merged companies prompted State Mutual Vice President John Adam, Jr. to suggest a "friendship campaign." He asked Joy Young, Assistant Director of Sales and Marketing, to develop something.
Young turned to Worcester freelance artist Harvey Ball, requesting he create a little smile to be used on buttons, desk cards and posters. Ball drew a smile but, not satisfied with the result; he added two eyes, making a smiley face. The whole drawing, he recalled later, took ten minutes. He was paid $240 for the entire campaign, and never received any further profit from his smiley face design.
Today, State Mutual is Allmerica Financial, and Worcester Mutual Fire Insurance is no longer a subsidiary of State Mutual. Now called Worcester Insurance Company, it still uses the smiley face on its promotional material.
The smiley face attained a life of its own well beyond the company's walls. Harvey Ball's design sparked a fad that swept the nation in the early 1970s. By 1971, smiley face was the hottest selling image in the country: an estimated fifty million smiley buttons alone had been sold, and the image appeared on countless other products as well.
Eventually, smiley's popularity began to wane, and by the mid-1970s the fad was over. The image never entirely disappeared though, and began to make a significant comeback in the late 1980s, with the resurgence of sixties-and seventies-inspired symbols, fashions, and music. Smiley's popularity continues today, its appeal both universal and enduring.
Harvey Ross Ball (10 July 1921 – 12 April 2001) is the earliest known designer of the Smiley.
Harvey Ball was born and raised in Worcester, Massachusetts. During his time as a student at South High School, he became an apprentice to local sign painter, and later attended Worcester Art Museum School, where he studied fine arts.
Harvey Ball served 27 years in the National Guard, and was based in Asia and the Pacific during World War II. He retired as a Brigadier General in 1973 and then served six years in the Army Reserves. He retired as a full colonel in 1979. Ball was awarded the Bronze Star for heroism during the Battle of Okinawa. He was awarded the Veteran of the Year award from the Worcester Veterans Council in 1999.Read more: About Harvey Ball
The Harvey Ball World Smile Foundation was established in 2001 to honor the name and memory of Harvey Ball, the artist who in 1963 created that international symbol of goodwill, the smiley face. Harvey Ball believed that each one of us has the ability to make a positive difference in this world and he lived according to that belief. He knew that any effort to improve the world, no matter how small, was worthwhile. And he understood the power of a smile and a kind act. In furtherance of that philosophy the Harvey Ball World Smile Foundation focuses on small, grass-roots charitable efforts that otherwise receive little attention or funding.Read more: About The Harvey Ball World Smile Foundation
As is well known by now throughout the world Harvey Ball, a commercial artist from Worcester, Massachusetts created the smiley face in 1963. That image went on to become the most recognizable symbol of good will and good cheer on the planet.
As the years passed Harvey Ball became concerned about the over-commercialization of his symbol, and how its original meaning and intent had become lost in the constant repetition of the marketplace. Out of that concern came his idea for World Smile Day®. He thought that we, all of us, should devote one day each year to smiles and kind acts throughout the world. The smiley face knows no politics, no geography and no religion. Harvey’s idea was that for at least one day each year, neither should we. He declared that the first Friday in October each year would henceforth be World Smile Day®. Ever since that first World Smile Day® held in 1999, it has continued every year in Smiley's hometown of Worcester, MA and around the world.
After Harvey died in 2001, the Harvey Ball World Smile Foundation was created to honor his name and memory. The Foundation continues as the official sponsor of World Smile Day® each year.
This website was created to provide information about World Smile Day®, Harvey Ball and Smiley. Browse the archives to learn more about past World Smile Day® events, Smiley and his creator - Harvey Ball. And be sure to join the celebration this year on Friday, October 4th, and "Do an act of kindness. Help one person smile"!