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Skiing for Deals: Manhattan Moguls on Aspen’s Slopes Waiting for the Daily News Strike: The L.A. Times Tightens the Screws Jamming for Dollars: Making Millions Doing the Rap Thing FEBRUARY 1990 EER Fred and Alan Love Lucy red Sebert and Alan Goodman, who make “Il Want My MTV ‘hat Nites retro posters, live where Mr; Fd meets ads and Na Patty Duke, where kitsch equals rich ANETT, PAPARAZZO doesn’t like being dropped on her head Not one bit By the thirteenth take of the day for this MTV commercial, the twenty foot falls gerting kind of old. “Just one more time, kids,” pleads the ditector, “Pil getyou oucof there, bert, thirty- seven, and Alan Good- man, thirey-six, founders and partners of the adver- tising agency Fred/Alan Ine., watch intently from the’ sidelines. Alan thoughefully pushes his lasses back when they slip down his nose. Bred, checks his Elvis watch oc” casionally to make sure everything's. copavetic. Both are dressed casual- Iy—Seibert in khakis and a white oxford shirt, Goodman sporting his Miami Beach-meets-—Miam Vice will jacket and salmon sweatshirt. Watching. them together, one cannot help hum- ‘ming an insidious litte theme song from one of the reruns they've helped popu larize on Nick at Nite: “They laugh alike, they walk alike, at times they even talk alike...” While the $150,000 commercial being filmed today may be a bargain-basement job by industry standards, ics not small change to FrediAlan Inc.—nor to theit client, MTV, which will be using it to Judith Newman is a New York-based free “ance writer. PHOTOGRAPH BY BENNO FRIEDMAN BY JUDITH NEWMAN ‘Alan Goodman and Fred Seibert: ad men for whom 1V is ther rusted guide, advertise on other television newworks. It took some fast taking to convince the MTV people that it was worth the effort {oeonstruetan upside-down set and drop the calent from the ceiling, rather chan simply to switch the image around through video editing. What seemed a minor and expensive detail would, ae cording co Fred and Alan, determine the suecess or failure of the spor. Janet, the stuntwoman, carefully climbs back into her rig. She greets her MIPV-watching husband, a gymnast who's been hired for his ability not wo pass out when suspended upside down forlong periods of time. The TV set on the ceiling suddenly comes loose from ics moorings, showering the “normaf” TV-warching couple below with acloud of dust. The wife on the ceiling suddenly realizes she's upside down, drops ‘on her head into che home of Ms. and Mrs. Boring below, stands up, points to the television, and whines the now infamous tag line: WANTE-MY Mt Cut. Applause from the crew. “Looks great,” shouts the director. The MTV account executi hugs the executive pro- ducer. “Chris, you did it you big Swedish gummy bear. Fred beams. Alan pushes his glasses back on his face. “Hey, I don’t, know what it means,” Alan shrugs. “Buc it’s right for the client, and it works.” Fred, normally the one who talks strategy, targeting, and num- bets, has lft is thinking cap back ac the office. “his is some tricky shi,” he ex- claims happily. Which prety much sums up the work sd/Alan Ine. Founded in 1983, the company has grown froma three-person operation pro- ducing on-air promes, sales films, and network identifications for MTV to for ty-one-person agency with $31 million in billings: a hip, entertainment-based cli cent list that includes Nickelodeon, Nick at Nite, VH-1, and Mosaic Records; and shot market niche. ‘They define them- selves as “youth advertisers,” experts at speaking the (musical, visual) language FEBRUARY 1950 39 Fred and Alan, whose office bathrooms are labeled Lucy and Ricky, were raised amid the lawn sprinklers and quality aluminum siding of suburbia: having mainlined TV since they were tots, their extended families include June and Ward, Darrin and Samantha, Archie and Edith, Gilligan—and the Skipper too. of the hard-to-persuade forty-and-under boomer audiences—Baby Bust (1962- 73) and Baby Boomlet (1973 to the pres: cent) —that account for about 58 percent of the U.S. population. ‘These are the folks who have mainlined television ce they were tots, whose extended familics included June and Ward, Darrin and Samantha, Archie and Edith, Gil gan—and the Skippertoo. he marketis 4 potential gold mine for anyone savvy ‘enough to speak this audience's televi- sion-inspired language. It'sa language in which Fred/Alan is fluent Fred Seibert and Alan Goodman told us we wanced our MTV. (They worked with Lois Pon Gershon—now Lois! GGK—awho just happen to be the same people who came up with “I wane my Maypo” during the sixties.) The boys also helped make Nick at Nite, the pro- ‘gramming format on Nickelodeon that airs only reruns (“Please, not reruns— classics,” cries Goodman), 2 household name in New York. If the company has a trademark style, ie that vireually everything: coming out ‘of their shop refers to the small screen. ‘Their appeal to fifties and sixties nostal- gia, their trash and flash, their use of dizzying graphics and. music that goes straight co the gut has been copied end- lessly. Forget market research. Forget focus groups. More than any other agency, they hit the consumer where he really lives—the mental landscape of his childhood esa transitional time for the agency. ‘An attempt to show they had what it takes to bring America’s tube heads to the printed word failed: after winning the prestigious Harcourt Brace Jovan vich account in early 1989, they were out the door by year’s end. ‘Then again, a ‘match with a more recent publishing cl ent—Sassy, a magazine that, for all ics “relevancy” to teenagers, doesn't exact. ly presumean audience destined for 800s on their SATs—looks much more prom- ising. And for all their iconoclasm, Fred Alan wants to prove that pitching prod- tucts to the babies isn’e kid scuff; they very much want the chance «0 try out their methods on parity products—the dog food-and-detergent set, an area of advertising that they believe will open uup new doors for the Patty and Kathy of the industry. 40. MANHATTAN.t Fred talks, Alan broods. Fred expands on an idea, Alan summatizes it in four words. But both agree on why their cam- paigns for their media clients have been so successful. It comes back to the child in usall, our innate need to believe in an idea ora produet. Parcof Fred and Alan’s genius isin exploiting our faith in logos— and having fun in the process. “See, we're a tradematk-, brand-dri cen company,” says Fred, whose office hhouses an enormous Flying A billboard from Tydol and dozens of original pack- ages—milk cartons and so forth—from the fifties and sisties. “Behind a trade ‘mark there's intrinsic value. Coca-Cola ‘means. something, McDonald's means something. MTV means something— ich is why people would wear MV its. How many people do you see wearing an NBC ‘T-shirt? ‘Ted ‘Turner ced value with his Superstation. We iekelodeon, and now, wwe hope, VH-1." Because ‘television networks have no brand identity, accord- ing to Seibert and Goodman, they are unable to create loyalty among their viewers. “The point is we've created brand loyalty for networks, which were formerly not thought of in terms of “brands,” and we think you can do that with any product,” says Fred. Ifad revenues are any indication, S bert has a point. While the major ne works continue to lose share at a steady pace, the MTV channels (now owned by Viacom) continue to inerease revenue and siphon audiences away. According t0 Paul Kagan Associates, an independent research firm, MTV revenue, after sev- cer rocky years, is up SIL million, from $78 million in 1988 to $89 million 1989. Nickelodeon's revenue has i creased steadily and in 1989 cook a sub- stantial jump, ftom $27 million to $41 million—partially the result of many more homes’ receiving the station. Even ‘VEL, which since its inception in 1985 has been the problem child of the 1 ‘works, may finally be coming into its ‘own; under Fred/Alan’s guidance (in ad. dicion to handlingadvertsing, they aceas consultants), the station has reconstruct cd its programming to focus on the older and sales have gone from $6.4 1987 to $18.1 millon in, 1989. Yet the networks continue to ignore these stations as competition—henee NBG, ABC, and Fox are allowing MTV toadvertise on their airwaves. CBS alone seems to have spotted the enemy and will noc air MTV commercials. Marshall Cohen, who worked closely with Fred and Alan when they were at MTV and is now executive vie dent for corporate affairs and communi- cations at MTV Necwotks, believes in Fred/Alan’s talent in creating. identity and brand loyalty. “he biggest thing we have going for us is how we commu- nicate with our viewers,” says Cohen, who adds that Fred/Alan will be devel- oping HA! the T'V Comedy Network, MTV's new comedy channel, “Fred! Alan has helped us take raw concepts— names and logos—and make them come alive on'TV.” To Fred and Alan growing up, TV was life. The boys, whose office bathrooms are labeled Lucy and Ricky, were raised amid the lawn sprinklers and quality alue minum siding of suburbia, Both were fa- natic TV watchers. “I worried that Fred would never live up to his potential,” says his mother, Lilliana Both were also musical. Alan played trumpet, and Fred played electric key- boards in high school band with a name only someone deeply into puberty could love—the Neglected Few. ‘They met at Columbia University while working for WKGR, the college radio station, “At that time we weren't at all alike,” says Fred. “Except that we both had this satiable curiosity. It cemented 0 friendship.” By their own admission, they've grown more alike over the years (“Alan was fat, I was skinny . . . now P've gained weight, and he’s lost”), but they like to atcibute their compatibility t0 certain key differences. “The importanc thing is thacwe don’teac any of the same foods,” Alan deadpans, “And [ive at the southernmost tip of Manhattan, and Fred lives at the northernmost.” But as for their lives being intertwined, well, just ask Fred’s sister, Elena She’s be living with Alan for more than ten years. Aftercollege the boys went their sepa- rate ways professionally. Alan took his film trainingand landed a tesearchingjob at Consumer Reports, which produced consumer mini-spots for local “TV sta- tions “that didn’t have their own Betty Fumes.” Later he became head copy-