Ben Kay is doing these great podcasts interviewing creatives and directors, it's well worth a listen if you haven't already.
His latest chat is with the great Jeff Labbe, an American creative and director who's responsible for some great ads, and some of the ones that we looked up to when we were starting out in the business.
Jeff wrote the Beware Of Things Made In October campaign for Fox Sports, which blew our minds at the time, such simple, funny spots.
Have a look at his work on Ben's blog, here.
Americans seem to have always been to able to write commercials for sport and in particular their sports, baseball, basketball and (Amercian) football, in a brilliant way that we seem to struggle to match over here. Don't get me wrong, there have been exceptions, but in general we don't seem to have that ability to write the great, funny stuff about our sport and sports heroes that the yanks do about theirs. (I have my own tinpot ideas about why that might be, but that's not for this post.)
Anyway, all this reminded me of that great era of US commercials that we feasted on when we were starting out. At that time the only way of getting hold of them was on a Umatic sent over from a production company. We'd crowd round a monitor to watch the latest thing someone had got hold of.
This particular campaign stands out in my memory - the superb ESPN SportsCentre stuff directed by Bryan Buckley and Frank Todaro when they were a directorial duo at Radical, and written by Hank Perlman and Daryl McDonald...
Fantastic stuff. You can see a compilation of ESPN SportsCentre commercials here (these are from over a range of time and I don't think they all share the same directing and writing credits)...
After Bryan Buckley and Frank Todaro went their own ways and each became hugely successful in their own right, we were lucky enough to work with Frank on a couple of our projects. He directed our commercial for Travelocity and a series of ads we did as part of the Clarks New Shoes campaign,. It was real pleasure to work with one of these master US craftsmen, and we learned a lot along the way.