Saturday, January 31, 2009

This is a layout of an ad that ran for the new 1970 Impala. We had come to LA with two photographers(Warren Winstanley and Dennis Gripentrog), two art directors (with me as one), two writers, and a bunch of assistants. Also we had several account guys to make sure we ad makers stayed legal and to manage a large security detail. Then there was a group of Chevrolet people in charge of the prototype cars that had been trucked in two big covered vans from Detroit. Lots of people staying in nice hotels with lots of day to day expense. The day we arrived it started raining. Then it rained the next day and the next and the next. Not just showers but real heavy rain. I became so worried about all the money we were spending without having taken one picture that I began saving the local paper with all the headlines about the unending rain. One morning I went down to the loby of our hotel and found water running down the steps leading to the desk. Out in the parking lot the vans with the prototype cars had water up to the middle of their wheels. The rain lasted nearly a week but it finally stopped and we went to the Screen Gems movie lot to make arrangements for the next days shooting. Warren Winstanley and I chose a brownstone location for an ad idea we had and made arrangements for the car, the models, the account guys, and the photographer with his assistants to be there. Finally we were going to get started. Bright and early the next morning we arrived at the location to find that it had rained again and the location was flooded. Everybody was there including the lady models all ready to make the planned picture. We all just stood around kind of stunned. Then I said we'll go ahead and make a picture anyway. What have we got to lose? I asked Dick ONeil, one of our account guys, to go back to the hotel and put on his suit and tie. While he was gone we pushed the prototype Impala (it had no engine) to a parking place in the water in front of the brownstone. Dick came back and we made the picture you see. It ran in all the major magazines of the day as a spread. The print you see here was layout quality not reproduction quality. 
Below you will see another picture situation made possible by all the rain. Sometimes it pays to take advantage of what circumstances give you. Making ads can be and should be lots of fun. This whole shoot in LA turned out to be one of our very best.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

1970 Chevelle SS Magazine Layout

This was one of those unexpected delights that sometimes can be found if you keep your eyes and mind open for picture opportunities. We were on our way to a location at the Disney Ranch in LA when we were confronted with a washed out road. It had been raining for several days and we were way behind on our schedule. It looked like we were not going to make it to our location but it didn't matter because here was something nobody could have imagined. I told Warren Winstanley, our photographer, that this was going to be the best picture we would make of the Chevelle SS or anything else on this trip. The Chevelle, with it's big new engines, you might imagine could leap across this road like Superman going over a tall building. We made three versions of the situation. The one you see here and two others with that featured the front of the car with the washed out road in the background. We did the one you see here first and I was satisfied that we had it but Warren argued for the other views. We often had disagreements about pictures and solved them by doing two versions. Because I was the art director I usually won out in the end but not always. Warren and I were very good friends and had grown up together in the business. I tried my very best to sell this ad to Chevrolet but we had too many other good, more heroic views of the car with good situations that they chose to use. The other views of this situation are available from the GM site and are very nice. I bought both and am happy to have them. Probably could have sold the one of the others but this one would have made the most memorable ad. This is an ad that I wish had run but I am happy to have saved the layout and to show it now. The colors in the print are faded and the retouching on the tire marks is crude but would have been made right for the finished art. Win some, lose some. 

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

1970 Chevelle SS Experimental Photo

This was shot near the location of the rope ad below. It was on one of the movie back lots where we had good security for the as yet to be announced cars. The car is a prototype Chevelle SS--and we could have it be a 396 or a 454 both of which were incredible engines for their time. The muscle car era was in and this car was one of the very strongest. Before we went to California for this "experimental" shoot we agreed upon the general positioning of the cars in the market place. This one was easy with the big stripes on the hood and the big available engines. I had the idea for the picture before we left Detroit and made the cut outs you see on the door. They represent the other muscle cars one might sit next to at a stop light and be tempted to out muscle. WWII had not been over all that long and it would be easy to recall the victory flags painted on the fighter aircraft of that war. We could even offer a package of decals to buyers of the car with the biggest engine. Warren Winstanley shot the picture for me and it was all I had imagined it could be. With the kind of things being done today for ads this idea may have had a chance to run but back then it was pushing the envelope a little too far. Nevertheless, I always felt you should go as far as possible in suggesting what the product could do especially when we were prevented from showing real high performance situations. 

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

This ad was shot during the same trip as some of the ads below but not on the Screen Gems movie lot. Warren Winstanley was the photographer and the concept was mine. The new Chevelle SS was available with two big engines--the SS396 and the SS 454. We were not allowed to show the cars in high performance situations in those days so we had to come up with other means of telling how it would perform if you bought one. This was done on an "experimental"shoot as were most of the other ads shown on this car. What that meant was Chevrolet gave us the prototype cars to photograph without any ad approval. They were shipped from Detroit to LA and we could do anything we wanted with  them. Before we went on a trip like this we had meetings to make sure we were all on board with the kind of image we wanted to project for each car. I tried to insist that each art director, writer, and photographer put picture concepts on pads of yellow paper and show them to me before we started shooting. This worked pretty well and did not eliminate having an idea as a result of seeing something not thought of before. I still have the crude yellow paper for this ad. Warren Winstanley had one of his assistants go to the dock in LA and buy the great big rope you see in the picture. We took two views of the situation, this one and a look strait on the front end of the car. Both were used and can still be found in Chevy materials from back then. In fact you can buy a poster- size reproduction of this ad from GM. Just go to their site and look at their collection of old car pictures. A fine young writer named Dick Wingerson wrote the copy for this picture. He did many great ads for us but got away to Florida at a young age. I know he looks in on the blog now and then to make sure I get the credits right. Thanks Wings!

This is the single page actual ad that is shown in spread layout form below. It did run as a spread too. The colors are much better here than in the layout. Please see the copy below the layout version for the story of the ad.

This looks just like the real ad but is a layout made with what we called a C-print (a color print that was inexpensive and of good but not great quality). If you look closely at the copy you will see that it is not real and is meant to suggest what the ad will look like when the actual copy is written. This picture was made on the Screen Gems Lot in California. The location was on one of their residential streets where many movies had been filmed. The photographer was Warren Winstanley. Warren had made arrangements to allow us to shoot on the lot. It was perfect for us because the security was great and there were all kinds of locations we could use within a block or two. I had the idea for the bright red light that was put under the hood so that it glowed bright red on the pavement. Chevelle SS had huge engines available for 1970-- a 396 and 454 cubic inch that made it a muscle car and then some. I think Bill Graefen did the copy. He was an excellent writer and later left us to become the creative director on the Toyota business. The ad ran in many magazines and is often shown as an example of muscle-car advertising of that time.

Wrong again about the copy. Dick Wingerson wrote it one Sunday morning when the idea popped into his head. Just goes to show how much fun we were having when some of the best ads were written on days off. Thanks for the fix, Mr. Wingerson.

1957 Chevrolet Newspaper Ad


Still another leadership ad so popular with the Chevy sales group back then. But very nicely done in a disarming sort of way. The USA was in love with Chevy then and would be for many more years. The art could have been done by any number of artists but my guess is Dan Romano. Jim Hastings was more than likely the art director and the one that had the idea for the tree carving. He was very good at solving a tough assignment in a very unique way. Given the time he could have done the illustration himself.
It nearly brings a tear to your eye to think of the situation Chevrolet and General Motors find themselves in today. I wish they could run this ad or one like it now. 

Friday, January 9, 2009


What a great way to get into a feature story. When is the last time you saw any feature advertising for a car in any form? Maybe nobody collects stamps anymore but they did back then and this idea used stamp collecting to feature the collection of fine attributes on the new Chevy. Things like Outrigger Rear Springs--Anti Dive Brakes--Body By Fisher--6 Engine-Drive Choices--and more. Very inventive thinking for making an ad. Come to think of it, there are a bunch of stamps of various kinds available at my post office so people must be collecting them. It's more expensive now like everything else. I don't know who did the art for this - Dan Romano maybe? Whoever did the art did a fine job and whoever had the idea did an outstanding job. 

'55 Chevrolet Magazine Ad

BLUE-RIBBON BEAUTY that's stealing the thunder from the high priced cars!

A really nice ad idea to promote the notion that Chevy was as good as they come. The illustration by Fred Ludekins is beautifully done and very much in keeping with the brand image being constructed by Jim Hastings for Chevrolet. And it's fun to see all the non-GM cars in the background even if they are mostly very high priced foreign makes. Chevy liked to compare itself to Cadillac but couldn't except in a round about way like this. Jim Hastings and his copy partner Pete Booth were beginning to change the brand image of Chevy in a very important way. More car for the money had always been a Chevrolet theme and now new and more memorable ways were being used to make the point. The color on this old slide does not give the illustration the credit it deserves. An interesting detail is the Chevrolet logo. It has undergone numerous changes since this ad was produced. Today the word Chevrolet does not appear in the bow tie. If you watch in other ads you will see lots of little changes to it but not to the bow tie shape.

Friday, January 2, 2009

Punch-line to the years hottest power story-CHEVROLET"TURBO-FIRE V8!

This art was done by a San Francisco artist from Patterson and Hall studio. Probably Stan Galli but I am not sure. You can see the Goldem Gate bridge in the background and the mountains beyond. Those mountains were to become famous as the years past. As I recall the big one just the other side of the bridge is Mt. Tamalpais. Later on as art began to give way to photography for auto ad illustrations Mt Tamalpias became a location destination for just about anyone shooting car ads on a beautiful twisting and winding road. It had everything--you could have the ocean in the background if you wished or just a fantastic road. There was even a tunnel as you approached the mountain. And up on the upper level was an old WWII gun emplacement-a very large structure that was used to house coastal defense artillery. I don't even remember the number of times I used the mountain but it was a bunch over the years.

1955 Chevrolet Newspaper Ad

Not the kind of ad you see anymore. Probably because so many cars look so much alike now and that is because of all the government mandates for fuel economy. At the time, this was a big leap forward for Chevy. This is a delightful way to show styling details with the high fashion looking ladies holding numbered cards. The art may have been done in Detroit but I don't know for sure. Much of the art from this time was done in San Francisco at the Patterson and Hall studio where Jim Hastings once worked.