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Archive for the ‘Advertising’

Where it all began.

January 23rd, 2010

The visual Craft of William Golden

Talk about unsung heroes. For those of you interested in graphic design or broadcasting or branding or marketing –or you’re just a media freak like me– you really should read this book, The Visual Craft of William Golden (hit ‘Full Screen’ up above, or download a PDF; it’ll be easy).

William Golden is the father of broadcast design, having been completely responsible, under Frank Stanton and owner William Paley, for the look and feel of the television network of the Columbia Broadcasting Company (CBS to you younger viewers), the first network to take into account every single aspect of it’s image and vocabulary. Most famous for the most famous TV logo of all time, the CBS eye, Golden was a philosopher and an artist in the most philistine moment of the 1950s. He was the man who was able to make one believe Paley’s conceit that his network of “I Love Lucy” and “The Beverly Hillbillies” was actually “the Tiffany Network.”

Golden wasn’t just about the logo, as a quick visual inspection of the book will bear out (but, check out the cool ways it was used, obviously but subtly, like on page 32). But, read it instead, you’ll get some great insights as to how a great creative work is done even at a behemoth like a TV network.

One quick, related, digression. George Lois used to tell me the story of his early job working under Golden’s art director Kurt Weiss, the man who actually designed the CBS logo. His gig was redrawing an original CBS type font, a Didot variation. Lois told me he worked for weeks on the “8″ alone because Golden insisted that the cross lines couldn’t actually meet, and George had to do it over hundreds of times to meet his exacting expectations.

Sadly, Golden is only known among broadcast design freaks like me (I had to become one to figure out how to do my job at MTV). He passed away (young, at 48) and the reins were handed to senior designer Lou Dorfsman who, unfairly, got the lion’s share of the credit for origination as the network matured and publicity accrued in the 60s and 70s.

Like I said, take a little time to read this hard to find book. It was rewarding to me the first time I sat down with a rare copy in the 80s, and it’s wisdom has only become richer over time.

(video via grain edit and Lined & Unlined)

Ralph Ginzburg: My mentors (?)

September 14th, 2009

Ralph Ginzburg, Moneysworth Magazine
Click here to read this ad larger.

It’s hard to actually call Ralph Ginzburg a mentor of mine. I’m not sure he talked to me more than once, and after a few months on the night shift at his magazine Moneysworth, he had me fired. But a mentor to me he indeed was. Without either of us knowing it, the path I started at Ralph’s would continue for 15 years.

By the time I went to work for his publication in the summer of 1976, Ralph was on his last publication. He was notorious for being convicted and jailed for obscenity relating to his hard cover magazine Eros (though there were some who said he was less obscene than just completely annoying). Moneysworth was to be his last hurrah.

I worked in the production department. Ralph was around often, talking loudly and smartly about everything from design to circulation to advertising. All I had to do was absorb it all. It was the place I saw first hand and up close how design, language, marketing, and promotion worked in the real world.

Ralph showed me (inadvertently) the practical meaning of graphic design (the only things I knew were from reading my girlfriend’s book about Milton Glaser); he talked so much, and so eloquently about Herb Lubalin, I felt like I’d actually worked with him myself. And watching him lay out his trademark full page New York Times ads (like the ones above and below) was an education by itself, about design and typography.

But, it was really in the area of writing, strategy, and direct selling that I got my Ginzburgian education. I won’t belabor the details [Read more…]

Isaac Hayes?

March 18th, 2009

Fred & Isaac Hayes (!)
Issac Hayes, on the set of “Me Music. It’s Mine.” New York City, 2000
Sonicnet.com [logo]

When stars are involved in projects we’re producing I usually stay far away.

Except in 1978 when I was working in Los Angeles radio and Marvin Gaye came by to promote his latest release. And in 2000, when I was running MTV Networks Online group, which included Sonicnet.com, we were doing an advertising campaign created by my brilliant mentor, Dale Pon. “Me Music. It’s Mine,” directed by a true star, Tim Newman, featured dozens of amazing musical artists improvising on the famous vocalist’s warm up “Me Me Me Meeeeee.” How could I not want to fist bump one of the great American singer/songwriters Isaac Hayes? (Yes, he really did have a superstar career before South Park.)

(As soon as I locate a tape, I’ll post some of the spots. …:::Update: here they are:::…)

The doo-wopping of television.

February 4th, 2009

Frame grab from “Top of the Hour”, by Marv Newland/International Rocketship

“The Fred/Alan television branding execution often started with defining a network’s sound.”

Slowly over the last few years I’ve been putting some of my archives online. For me it’s easier to organize than shelves and drawers.

Anyhow, one of the things I uncovered was this fave that I think regular readers of Frederator Blogs are going to love. My partner Alan Goodman and I took one of our favorite doo-wop groups, Eugene Pitt’s The Jive Five, and built the on-air Nickelodeon brand around them.

Frame grab from “The Jive Five”, by Jon Kane/Optic Nerve
Jive Five

With the help of our producer Tom Pomposello, and animators/production companies Eli Noyes & Kit Laybourne, Joey Ahlbum, Colossal Pictures, David Lubell, Jerry Lieberman & Kim Deitch, Marv Newland/International Rocketship, and Jon Kane/Optic Nerve, we established Nickelodeon’s identity at a moment they were teetering on complete and abject failure. And, we had a righteous ball doing it. (You can get the whole story here.)

Fred/Alan IDs 1985-1991 from fredseibert on Vimeo.

Earworm in the house.

January 9th, 2009

Meghan Killen, Fred, Robert Feldman

Carrie and I were happy to host a New York visit from senior designer Meghan Killeen and owner Robert Feldman from Earworm Media, based in Milford, New Jersey. Earworm specializes in web design and animation for clients, and themselves. Their series Dr. Shroud is hosted over at Joost and you can check out the episodes there. Thanks for coming by guys.

Big week in Times Square.

September 22nd, 2008

Wubbzy in Times Square 

A few Frederator related projects converged on Times Sqaure at the same time (!) last week.

Bob Boyles’ Wow! Wow! Wubbzy!, our production through our Mixed Media Group joint venture, is coming out with its first DVD from our partners at Anchor Bay/Starz. The crack team at Anchor Bay made sure millions of people were aware with a week long campaign on the Toys R Us billboard on Broadway.

Our Stars are Huge

And a couple of blocks North, over the W Hotel, the Next New Networks stars (including the Nite Fite crew) were showing off on a billboard of their own.

I’m actually overwhelmed with it all, so I won’t say much more. But, wow!

Oh Yeah! Jon Kane!

August 6th, 2008

Find more videos like this on Channel Frederator RAW

Jon Kane and I have worked together for a way long time, and I’m honored whenever I’m lucky enough to get his attention for one of our, ahem, efficiently priced jobs. So it was in 1998 when we were launching Oh Yeah! Cartoons and I thought it would be great to package it with a different vibe than other cartoon show. Calling Kane!

Jon’s company Optic Nerve was one of the leading commercial production shops in New York. Jon conceived the spots, [Read more…]

R.I.P. Tony Schwartz

June 17th, 2008

Tony Schwartz
Tony Schwartz, 1923-2008: his ‘daisy ad’ changed political advertising.

Even though he became famous in an era of black & white and radio, Tony Schwartz taught core lessons of communication to everyone in the media. Whether they knew it was coming from him or not.

His most famous piece was this campaign spot for Lyndon Johnson in 1964, which, lore has it, ran only once (and never even mentioned the opponent’s name) but was responsible for defeating Barry Goldwater in a landslide.

The Responsive Chord
My mentor, Dale Pon, not only insisted I buy and read Tony’s book “The Responsive Chord,” but that I should meet the man himself, which was an incredible experience. From then on, I made the book required reading among my promotion staff.

Check it out. The things you think you know because you’re smart are probably things that Tony was smart about before we were born.

The Stove Top Stuffing Mountains.

June 10th, 2008


This advertising was one of the choice campaigns from one of our pet projects at my ad agency. Like I said a few days ago, in the mid-80s my partner Alan Goodman and I came up with the idea of the first oldies TV network, Nick-at-Nite, and our creative director Noel Frankel developed the ad that was the perfect way to start telling people about our nutty approach to building the identity. Then, writer Bill Burnett kept coming up with the twisted ads for places like TV Guide.

Soon Nick-at-Nite was the most popular cable network in prime time and we needed to start selling some ads. Bill Burnett came up with the idea of a faux editorial campaign for the advertising trade magazines (like Advertising Age and Adweek) from a media pundit, Raul Degado (written by Bill, modeled by Tom Pomposello, who had one outrageous media buying scheme after another, every week. By the end of each column, of course, Nick-at-Nite seemed the perfect real time solution to the advertisers’ problems.

This one could be my favorite. It’s funny, and, it came true!

Nick-at-Nite in the 80s.

June 5th, 2008

Nick-at-Nite Poster: Ad Man of the Year!

I suppose you’d have to be a certain age to appreciate this Bewitched poster my old ad agency created in the 1980s for Nick-at-Nite. Or any of the other ads we made for them. But I wanted to put it up anyway because it’s some of my favorite work from those days (and it’s funny). My partner Alan Goodman and I conceived the idea for the network and built it for Nickelodeon in 1985, and Fred/Alan Creative Directors Bill Burnett and Noel Frankel created the campaign. (You probably know Bill from his cartoon life as the co-creator of ChalkZone and a number of Oh Yeah! Cartoons.)

For whatever it’s worth, I’ll throw in the first written description we put together for Nick-at-Nite, two or three years after it went on the air. You might note that it’s also the first linking of Nick-at-Nite with TV Land (”Hello out there from TV Land!” a variation of the 1950s original “Hello out there in TV Land!”), the precursor to MTV Networks spinning off the 24 hour network called TV Land.

Positioning Nick-at-Nite