First Broadcast TV Spot Produced on a Mac

On October 16, 1989, Bernice Kanner wrote in her regular New York Magazine column, On Madison Avenue, about how Nike and Reebok were duking it out for market share.

The real story, I think, is that for the first time a professional broadcast television commercial was about to be produced solely on consumer level computer hardware and software.



Chiat/Day came to R/Greenberg Associates to produce a campaign of three animated TV spots. The concept was to make them look like the pixelated, simplistic, side-scrolling (but at that time state-of-the-art) video games of the day. I was directing, and the brilliant Russell Calabrese (Pinky and the Brain) was supplying cel animation treated to look like it belonged in a 1989 Nintendo console.

Our plan was to use the usual high tech tools in order to produce the spot -- proprietary software -- sgi or sun workstations, but R/GA's director of interactive technology, Brian Loube, persuaded us that we could do the entire set of spots on a Macintosh running Macromedia Director.

Home computers at the time seemed more suited to hobbyist pursuits than to professional ones. In 1989 they hadn't made the penetration into the household that we take for granted today. (You might recall the huge laugh Woody Allen gets in Take the Money and Run (1969) when his character makes the absurd bluff on a job interview that he has prior computer experience because "his aunt has one.")

Nevertheless, we did a test, found the setup was well-suited to our purposes, and as far as I know, this Reebok Campaign became the first professionally produced, nationally broadcast TV spots ever produced on a Mac.

UPDATE 7/6/2005:

Jim Forster adds (link)

I remember working on that spot! From what I recall, Russell did the drawings on paper with animation punch marks, then they taped a punch bar to a flatbed scanner (so that everything lined up perfectly). Then it was my duty to scan in all the b&w artwork (fun fun fun!), clean it up & I think I did some of the coloring in Director too. Then Brian put the whole thing together in Director.

Damn I'm old!

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