Video by justinsuperstar
Archive for the ‘Commercials’
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.
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.
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I was writing about my MAD mood recently, and it prompted me to buy my sons MAD’s Greatest Artists:The Completely MAD Don Martin which he promptly fell in love with (who wouldn’t?). Which, in turn, prompted me to remember fondly this unique spot (called “A Day in the Life”) my agency did for VH1 in 1990 that Don illustrated.”A Day in the Life”
VH-1: Video Hits One
Written by Bill Burnett
Illustrated by Don Martin
Animation production by JJ Sedelmaier for The Ink Tank
Sound design and agency production by Tom Pomposello
Executive Producers: Alan Goodman & Fred Seibert
Agency: Fred/Alan, Inc., NY
Upper left illustrated by Lou Brooks
I don’t know, I’m asking.
One of my favorite projects back in the day was one few people have ever seen. It started out as a TV network branding assignment, our agency’s specialty, for HA!: The TV Comedy Network. And it led to one of our favorite cartoons that not enough people have seen. Cartoon creator Bill Burnett was at the center of it all.
Viacom’s HA! was their answer to HBO’s Comedy Channel. They both lost the competition and merged into Comedy Central. Some of Fred/Alan’s best work for the network, the naming of Comedy Central, and the conception and writing of the cartoon were all done by Bill (also the co-creator of ChalkZone).
Once our agency helped name HA! we went to work on its branding, figuring out the belief system of the channel. Our creative director, Noel Frankel, designed the distinct shouting logo, with various illustrators and models depicting the shout. Bill led the effort to write dozens of promotional spots, including What is Funny?.Bill takes it from here:”It featured Marc Weil–a member of England’s legendary Madhouse Company of London, asking the question “Is This Funny? I don’t Know, I’m asking” in the face of increasingly bizarre events: For example, he’d be dressed in Judges Robes holding two squealing piglets; then two Mexican banditos would emerge from his robes. Then he’d be chased and lassoed by men in diapers, smoking cigars, and so on. The series was directed by Cliff Fagin, produced by Noh Hands Productions. The recurring What Is Funny? Chorus was performed by Bill Burnett, Suzy Williams and Lori Jacobson. Edited by Chris Strand.”
The spots ran in 1989 and that was the end of that though they never left my mind. Fast forward about eight years and I was starting my latest set of cartoon shorts for Nickelodeon, Oh Yeah! Cartoons. Bill was one of our early creative signings and I kept bringing up What is Funny? I reminded him that Nick’s owner Viacom already owned the original spots, so why not take a flyer on creating a balls-to-the-wall funny cartoon character based on the same concept. Bill selected former Spumco artist/director Vincent Waller (now a key part of the SpongeBob team) and they were off to the races.
Nick production chief Albie Hecht loved the cartoon. So did CEO Herb Scannell. But I guess it didn’t have the typical cartoon hero at it’s center or something and we could never get series traction. It’s too bad. It’s a damn good cartoon.