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 good fit and we started plotting some stuff together. We’d loved Swatch’s first TV commercial for MTV with The Fat Boys, and when Nancy and her colleague Steve Rechtshaffner intro’d us to their manager Charlie Stettler it was a lovefest, and we became friends for three decades.
Charlie was a complete character. A Swiss national in New York City, he’d embraced hip-hop early and completely. Putting the two together for Swatch’s first Amercan commercial, he made a fee-free deal that would insure his trio national television exposure at a time when MTV refused to program hip-hop. Two years later, Swatch wanted to make a spot for their limited edition Christmas watch, Nancy, Steve, and Charlie asked Fred/Alan to create it.
Up until that point we’d only done media promotion, never anything for an actual, physical product, so we took the assignment seriously. As seriously as you could with an act that weighed almost a ton between them. Alan, our resident writer and director, constructed a spot that fused the hip-hop spirit of improvisation and the slickness of TV. The bit with the couple on the couch being interrupted by Buffy, the Human Beatbox was scripted. The “Swatch” shouts and the rap bed were improvised in the back of the shooting stage. Alan constructed the track and the graphics in the video studio in post-production.
As Alan recalls the shoot: “I remember only that Buffy had no underwear and we had to stitch two pair together; that I experienced the ultimate director humility when, with me four inches from his face directing him in the scene, I watched as his eyes settled and closed and he fell asleep (hey, it was after lunch and he was taking ‘antibiotics’); and that I had no idea what the track would be or how to end it until I heard The Fat Boys rapping ‘Ho, ho, ho’ in the next room. Which taught me the rule I live by: be 100 percent prepared and 30 percent flexible.”
…0 comments Tagged: 1985, Swatch, The Fat Boys, advertising, commercials, television, rap, hip hop,.
…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. First step, a agency brochure!
It’s great fun doing good advertising, and we’d had a better run than many. Sure, we’d been critical to the building of MTV, VH-1, and Nickelodeon. And we did some awesome work for Swatch, Mosaic Records, Myers’s Rum, and Barq’s which had driven lots of business for them. It ought to be easy to wrap it all up and brag a little, yes?
Putting together a company hype is a drag, pure and simple. In person, we could speak passionately for hours telling you about what went into our work. But somehow, writing it down was somehow crass.
It began to dawn on us that maybe being an advertising agency wasn’t for us.0 comments Tagged: Barq's, Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, MTV, MTV Record Club, Mosaic Records, Mosiac Records, Myers's Rum, Nick-at-Nite, Nickelodeon, Showtime, Swatch, The Movie Channel, VH-1, self promotion, NAN,.