The naming of Comedy Central.
Positioning Comedy Central (neé CTV: Comedy Television) by Fred Seibert HA! didn’t work for MTV Networks (even with the super duper amazing work we did for them). The Comedy Channel didn’t work for HBO. So they merged in CTV: Comedy Television. Obviously, management didn’t have much of an imagination. HBO insisted that their guy be in charge. And after a decade of success...
TV Heaven on the Radio.
Bill Burnett, co-proprietor of Stretch Media with Debrah Lemattre, and cartoon creator extraordinaire, was the creative director of Fred/Alan back in the day.* A few months ago he sent along these three radio spots for TV Heaven, which ran as paid advertising during the years we had repositioned them as the first oldies TV station in America. We’ve already posted the fantastic animated...
I had a bright idea.
It was a critical time for Nick-at-Nite in the early 1990s. Fred/Alan’s innovation had already defied all odds by running just “reruns” and become one of the top rated cable networks. Better yet the channel was “branded,” which meant that advertisers would pay more for their commercials. But there were only so many ways to re-package and re-present old shows, and...
We're not in "Mad Men" anymore.
On the eve of Fred/Alan’s closing in May of 1992, one of our biggest fans in the press, Adweek columnist Richard Morgan, interviewed us about what he saw as a disheartening event. ADWEEK May 1992 Morgan at Large By Richard Morgan MTV AGENCY ELECTS TO DIE BEFORE IT GETS OLD Fred/Alan, the New York agency behind the MTV look, is closing down this Friday for a myriad of reason. C-founder...
The HA! logo.
HA! IDs 1990 for Fred/Alan from fredseibert on Vimeo. Few designers understood Fred/Alan’s approach to television network logos as well as our first non-Fred, non-Alan creative director, Noel Frankel. Our point of view started to form after Frank Olinsky of Manhattan Design brought in the first iteration of the last presentation on the MTV logo. He thought that every usage of the logo...
"The greatest hits!! of music video!!!"
13 second video jingle VH-1 from fredseibert on Vimeo. It seemed like a good idea at the time. This was the network that had my clearest fingerprints all over it, and ultimately became one of the list of reasons I had for leaving the business. In any event, the era of the early 90s remains a personal favorite of mine. But, of course, I’m biased (or maybe it’s just my age). No one knew what...
We're going to Bensonhoist!
Design by Tom Corey & Scott Nash We actually started Fred/Alan to make television shows. In fact, we quit our jobs at MTV Networks to produce a series at the Playboy Channel. But, after that debacle branding and marketing took a higher bill paying priority for a while. There were some big and small shows here and there, but it wasn’t until 1987 we decided to hit it head on. Albie...
Ran into Len.
Len Fischman & Alan Goodman, Fred/Alan, 870 7th Avenue,1987 Walking to work yesterday (2010) through Union Square in Manhattan, I was more than happy to run into Len Fischman, Fred/Alan’s print production manager from the late 1980’s until we closed in 1992. Smiling as usual, he was on the way to his post retirement gig guiding people around the World Trade center site. ...
Baby boomers deserve their own channel?
Poor VH-1. Conceived in a competitive fervor, less because anyone in the audience actually wanted it, more because MTV Networks couldn’t let Ted Turner grab their business. No one at the company really wanted it to succeed, under the mistaken impression that there were only so many people interested in video music (a claim backed up by research that was ill conceived, maybe on purpose)....
"Own A Rumor!"
We never did too much actual advertising for Mosaic Records. They’d done quite a bit before Fred/Alan got involved with the company and it didn’t really pay off for them. Besides, our catalogs were growing their business pretty well organically. So, it was pretty hard to convince them to spend their hard earned money to experiment a little. Our strategy was pretty simple. The New...
"The client will pay for it all!"
Tony Bennett from fredseibert on Vimeo. Jazz singer and crooner Tony Bennett completely revived his career with his 1995 appearance on Unplugged. But, it was Fred/Alan that awakened Tony’s and MTV’s interest in each other in 1988. I think it was a great, funny spot, just right for the network. This commercial was the first spot we did as a full service agency, the slickest and...
MTV, before Fred/Alan.
A bunch of the Alan and Fred story —at MTV (and Nickelodeon, for that matter)— happened before Fred/Alan, from 1980 until early 1983. If you’re interested, Fred’s covering some of it over on his personal blog.
"I idolized Don Martin."
A Day in the Life from fredseibert on Vimeo. Bill Burnett started at Fred/Alan in 1987 as a hilarious freelance copywriter, eventually becoming our creative director (and he went on to write and create cartoons for Fred in Hollywood). From his blog (check it out to see both spots, and more), here’s Bill’s take on a great campaign he created for us and our client VH-1: One of the...
"Please forward the $300. My wife is spending...
From the moment Fred/Alan started doing MTV’s advertising in 1988 we’d wanted to create a print campaign that would capture the feeling of change and surprise we’d been able to inject into the on-air identity from the first seconds of the channel. Finally, in 1990 our clients agreed to a consumer advertising in Rolling Stone magazine, which eventually would run across two...
When Paula was famous the first time.
Since the very beginning (August 1981) the MTV packaging and advertising work we’d done used line illustration and animation to establish a clear identity, distinct from the all too common live action music videos or the slick motion graphics on the rest of the television networks. But photography loomed very high on our radar. Fred’s sister/Alan’s wife, Elena Seibert, is a...
The Fats Boys for Swatch.
Fat Boys for Swatch on Vimeo. This commercial is Alan and all his talents at their best. Our great friend and colleague from MTV, Nancy Kadner, had bought me a Swatch when they were first imported in 1983. Two years later Max Imgrueth had set up a US office and she was running marketing. Since Swatch’s approach was essentially the same as MTV’s ever changing logo she sensed a...
We can't meet Mr. Brown?!
Unity from fredseibert on Vimeo. “PEACE! UNITY! LOVE! And HAVING FUN!“ Over nine years, Fred/Alan only made two* music videos**, but they were both doozies. First up, James Brown and Afrika Bambaata. I mean, wow, wouldn’t it too cool to work with The Minister of the New New Super Heavy Funk? JB was half a decade away from his latest chart hit and hip-hop was beginning to...
See more of our Nickelodeon posts here. Nickelodeon: Everyday Hero on Vimeo. Writer/producer Scott Webb is probably the creative hero more responsible for the Nickelodeon you love everyday than almost any other single person. It’s not for nothing that he began at Nick as a writer/producer and went on to become the network’s very first worldwide Creative Director. In June of 1984...
"Positioning" MTV. 1987.
Positioning MTV: Music Television Throughout the 80s, our in-house creative team at MTV had established all the original vocabulary (written and visual) for the channel. In 1983, Alan and I resigned and set up Fred/Alan as the media’s first “branding” consultancy and advertising agency. Bob Pittman was a smart and shrewd competitor; he signed us right back up. MTV Networks...
Our last office
1991-1992 Fred/Alan, Inc. 708 Broadway @4th Street New York City
Our first office.
1983-1988 870 Seventh Avenue, @56th Street The Omni Park Central Hotel New York City Original production home of the Jackie Gleason Show ….. The original Fred/Alan office was incredibly ugly. The evidence in these posted pictures (and the few others we’ve saved) should give you a slight taste of someone’s warmed over mid-century lack of sense. But, it didn’t really...
A few years in the company was getting a little worn out exclusively working on branding projects, and we looked for assignments that would get us a little closer to the television show productions we hoped for when we started the company in 1983. Sometimes things would come our way that allowed us to bridge past our visible strengths towards our bigger goals. Like Rockschool. This was a wacky...
The early 1990s made us face the limits of the business we’d built. Starting as a production company in 1983, we made a TV series for the Playboy Channel and promos for TV networks and record companies. Soon we’d evolved into the only company branded cable channels; we’d introduced the idea to our former employers and clients at MTV and Nickelodeon. In 1988, Nickelodeon asked...
The first oldies television network.
See more of our Nick-at-Nite posts here. Alan Goodman and I invented Nick-at-Nite. It’s funny to see it in print. Ted Turner invented CNN the Cable News Network, Bill Paley created CBS the Columbia Broadcasting Company, John Lack invented MTV Music Television. But, there it is. Two guys most people never heard of invented America’s first oldies channel on television. By mid-1985...
Black & White shows are worthless?
See more of our Nick-at-Nite posts here. The year is 1988, time for our coming out party, the first kickin’ campaign as a full time advertising agency. Nick-at-Nite had a big problem, and Fred/Alan needed to fix it. Advertisers loved the Nick-at-Nite ratings (it was one of the top three primetime cable networks), but the ad sales team was inexperienced and unskilled, and they never knew...
Lifetime tries 'Talk Television,' 1984.
Lifetime IDs 1985 for Fred/Alan from fredseibert on Vimeo. Tom Burchill had a good idea in 1984. Lifetime (the result of a merger between Cable Health Network and Daytime Television) would become “Talk Television”, the TV euqivalent of talk radio. The hosts would be everyone from Regis Philbin to Dr. Ruth. Good idea, poor execution, run by the wrong executives, who were still...
Our inspiration (1).
“This drugery, this sham, this goldmine.” —Fred Allen From a xerox hanging on Fred’s door during our first five years. In 1983, we (Alan and Fred) were in the lobby of the then-hot ad agency Scali, McCabe, and Sloves, having endured another excruciatingly boring presentation for our employers, The Movie Channel (MTV’s sister channel at Warner Amex Satellite...
Our inspiration (2).
“Treadmill to Oblivion,” by Fred Allen Alan found a first edition somewhere and gave it to me with double meaning. The first was that I’d started an indie record company in the 70s called Oblivion Records. The second was that Fred Allen had some stunningly relevant quotes. My favorite? “Advertising is 15% commission and 85% omission.” —Fred
From worst to first: Nickelodeon Network IDs...
See more of our Nickelodeon posts here. Fred/Alan started with working with Nickelodeon in late 1984 when Bob Pittman was made President of MTV Networks and he fired the existing staff, which had succeeded in losing the company tens of millions of dollars, and worse, making Nickelodeon the lowest rated cable network in America. Bob assigned us to the remaining executives, Gerry Laybourne and...
Nickelodeon goes to sleepaway camp, 1988-1990.
Nickelodeon Camp IDs 1988-1990 from fredseibert on Vimeo. Howard Hoffman is an artist and animation director who’d worked with Fred/Alan on a number of projects. One day he presented a zany idea. Howard spent Augusts at the Maine summer camp of his youth running an animation workshop, and wouldn’t it be better if the kids were animating something “real” like some...
The Myers's Rum Video Network.
Illustrated by Joey Ahlbum In 1986 music videos were still the coolest thing on earth and our friend Steve Dessau thought there was a way to make some money with them. Edgar Bronfman Jr. had just taken over his family’s liquor business and was obsessed with music (he’s now the CEO of the Warner Music Group). He was frustrated that liquor couldn’t use television to sell its...
Quick, kill Turner. VH-1: Video Hits One, 1985.
VH-1: Video Hits One IDs 1985 from fredseibert on Vimeo. The whole story of VH-1 is probably only interesting to those who lived it, given how non-interesting the network has been for most of it’s life, and we were involved from the beginning for almost 15 years. While Fred and Alan had left MTV 18 months before, they were still considered a vital part of the brain trust that could help...
The doo-wopping of television, 1984-1992.
See more of our Nickelodeon posts here. The Jive 5 on Nickeldeon from fredseibert on Vimeo Eugene Pitt and The Jive 5 were as perfect an element of network identity as Fred/Alan ever found. All the filmmakers who worked with us on Nickelodeon lined up to be the first to use their soundtracks on their network IDs. The Fred/Alan television branding execution often started with defining a...
Mosaic Records, 1986-1992
Publish at Scribd: Mosaic Records Brochure No. 4 In the late 70s Fred was producing jazz records and became friendly with Michael Cuscuna, soon to become one of the medium’s most revered producers and the leading reissue producer in history. In the early 1980s Michael and former BlueNote/Columbia/Warner Records executive Charlie Lourie started the pioneering Mosaic Records as the first...
The Nickelodeon logo, designed by Tom Corey &...
See more of our Nickelodeon posts here. Nickelodeon Logo Logic Designed by Sheri Dorr & Laurie Kelliher Creative Director: Scott Webb Tom Corey, Scott Nash, and Alan Goodman are the key guys in the Nickelodeon logo saga. Back in the day my partner Alan Goodman and I were known as the logo guys. It was both flattering and annoying, because we’re not designers and it deflected...
Fred/Alan plays with Nickelodeon.
Fred/Alan worked with Nickelodeon from 1984 through 1992 as brand, marketing, and programming consultants, as their advertising agency, and through it’s Chauncey Street Productions subsidiary (managing director: Albie Hecht), as television producers. Alan has continued to consult and produce for Nickelodeon. Fred produces cartoons and consults for the network. Albie became Nick’s...
"Fred and Alan Love Lucy"
“Fred and Alan Love Lucy” in Manhattan Inc. 1990 Publish at Scribd or explore others: Marketing Business advertising magazine “Fred Seibert and Alan Goodman, who make “I Want My MTV” ads and Nick at Nite’s retro posters, live where Mr. Ed meets Patty Duke, where kitsch equals rich.” Manhattan, Inc.; magazine article by Judith Newman...
N'awlins and Minnesota?
Fred/Alan IDs 1989 featuring Dr. John for TV Heaven from fredseibert on Vimeo. After Tom Pomposello introduced us to Fred Mogubgub’s pop-art style for the TV Heaven/Channel 41 station IDs, our creative department researched a series of ‘heaven’ quotations which would be read by actors for the animation soundtracks. In another life Fred/Alan Managing Director Ed Levine (now a famous...
The first 'oldies' television station: TV Heaven...
Fred/Alan IDs 1989 for TV Heaven 41 from fredseibert on Vimeo. In 1988, a friend of ours bought a couple of failing UHF TV stations in the upper suburbs of Minnesota. He asked Fred/Alan to work our branding and programming philosphies on the station (linked together with common programming). We made them the first broadcaster* to use an “oldies television” approach and creative director Noel...
The first cable TV brand: MTV: Music Television...
MTV IDs 1981-1983 from on Vimeo. MTV’s network identity wasn’t a Fred/Alan project, but it might as well have been, since Fred and Alan began their professional television collaboration there. (There’s more about the MTV logo on Fred’s personal site here.) Fred Seibert began working as virtually the first employee of MTV: Music Television in May 1980 (under...
Inventing TV 'brands': Fred/Alan Network IDs...
From the very first minute I went to work for Bob Pittman (he was 25, I was 27) at the Warner-Amex Satellite Entertainment Company in May of 1980, he told me about the company’s plan for a television channel that would be exclusively rock videos and how he envisioned the TV equivalent of radio jingles: network identifications (‘IDs’) short, wacked out pieces of animation that would reveal...
Our cabride through history.
A Cab Ride Through History [fronts here, backs here] Publish at Scribd or explore others. The cool thing about advertising is you get to do a lot of different kinds of work. The drag is that it’s the clients’ work and the agency, in the end, has to do what it’s told. So, when there’s a chance to do stuff with yourself as the client it’s a lot of fun. We were...
A belly dancing soul christmas.
We started having Christmas parties in 1985 because it was so damn hard to figure out which clients and hope-to-be-clients to give presents to, and exactly what to give them. We figured it would probably cost us the same to party and everyone would be happier anyhow. The first year we rented out the Museum of Radio & Television; everyone thought we were classy. Then a roller disco; they...
Fred/Alan buys the New York Times.
Fred/Alan didn’t do too much advertising for itself (it was expensive), so we tried to make every one count. The New York Times was, by far, the most influential publication in advertising. In the 1980s Phil Dougherty had a repuation as the most honest, authoritative columnist in the business, and any ad in the Times would guarantee sales for your client. Well,...
"While you were busy looking for youth..."
Fred/Alan new business brochure. …we were busy wondering what had happened to us. By the late 1980s, Fred/Alan had morphed into a full service advertising agency, with writers, art directors, and account, production and media departments. Over 40 people. We started trying to get some new accounts, the lifeblood of any agency. And not a skill we were particularly attuned to at the time....
The movies we never made.
We originally started Fred/Alan to make TV shows and movies. Finally around 1985, somewhat stable as a business, we tried ‘getting into the movies’ with something other than a ticket. We’d always liked quickie teen movies and there was a popular spate of them happening right then so we took a flyer and somehow succeeded (we really had no idea what we were doing) in optioning the rights to one of...
Fred/Alan Reunion, 2004
Jill Gershon was an account executive at Fred/Alan in the late 80s, and she kindly decided to put on a party for those of us she could locate. The result was a wonderful time for all (though Fred had to leave early due to a severe allergic reaction to Jill’s cats). We thought we’d commemorate the event with a small poster run for the attendees. Maybe it’ll inspire another get together. We...