Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Shot on the Screen Gems movie lot in LA, this 1970 Chevrolet Impala ad layout looked good but never ran. The car is a prototype with no engine. Looks real enough to be real. This is the way we got most new Chevy products early enough to shoot and turn into ads in time for announcement. Announcements were a big deal back then with all kinds of glamorous promotions. A company named Bill Sandy did the Broadway type show and movie for the dealers. We did all the advertising. All the people in this picture are real people not models. Most of them are the truck drivers that brought the cars from Detroit to LA for us as well as other helpers of Alex Nicholas. Alex is the fellow on the far right. I cant tell you how helpful he was in every way. He was the Chevy executive in charge of the cars and where they needed to be. He didn't have to pose in our pictures or have any of his people in our pictures but he was always most accommodating. We tried to treat him and his people as part of our team and it paid off for us. This ad is another that got only as far as this faded layout but gets to be published these many years later. Warren Winstanley was the photographer. The Vic Mills in the sign was one of the truck drivers. Everybody had to sign a model release and was paid a little but not as much as regular models would have been paid. The welcome home thought tied into the return of our soldiers from Vietnam if you chose to think of of that way and if not it was simply a welcome home message. 

This 1970 Chevrolet Impala layout didn't sell but was shot on the Screen Gems movie lot in LA. It was made during an "Experimental" shoot when we had a fleet of Chevy prototypes to work with. This particular car had no engine and was made of plastic or whatever they used at Chevy Styling back then. We could turn it into a Caprice or an Impala as needed with a little retouching or emblem changes. The fellow with the plump lady is Alex Nicholas, a Chevrolet executive in charge of all the prototype cars and who could use them. He managed to get the cars to locations all over America when they were needed and on time. There were ads, catalogs, and television commercials to shoot for us and all kinds of film and stills for a company that did the Chevy Announcement films for the dealers. Alex was always agreeable to fill in as a model or have others on his staff help us any way they could. I wanted people to look real in our ads rather than the beautiful people we often used but Chevrolet didn't always agree. I think this would have made a memorable ad for Chevy but this is as far as it got. Faded some over the years but I am happy to show it now. I hope Alex is still with us and sees it. Warren Winstanley was the photographer. Another point. Back then art directors and photographers went to great pains to make sure the models were doing something interesting in the picture. A pretty girl just standing by the car we called a " fender polisher" and we all did plenty of those. They were usually brought about by the need for a quick picture and the lack of a strong visual idea for the ad. Photographers generally were reluctant to have the models look at the camera but I had no problem with that as you can see in the above shot. Later on we would do a complete campaign with all the models looking at the camera and getting their picture taken. That is another story.

This 1970 Chevelle experimental photo was shot on the Screen Gems lot in California. The location is on one of their streets with small town stores. The fellow looking out the door at the "Police"car is Bill Graefen, an outstanding copy writer I worked well with. We had a fleet of new Chevy prototypes to shoot but no client approved layouts. It was a wonderful way to work. We had a specific direction in mind for each car line and only crude layout ideas to shoot from. This was an easy one to set up. Borrow a "gum-ball"from Screen Gems prop department and install big tires on the rear of the car along with a police star. This was going a little too far for Chevy at the time. Or maybe it was that we had so many other shots they liked better. Warren Winstanley shot the picture along with the others on this "Experimental" shoot. I am happy to have saved the picture and to show it now. Chevrolet was very trusting of us to allow this kind of creative effort. It had taken several years to build the trust with smaller shoots of a similar nature. I'll bet some of these ads could make it through the approval process today. I don't understand why most of the auto advertising being done now shows only bright and shinny sheet metal with no attempt to make the picture contribute more to the communication. I'll bet it has something to do with computers and the ease of putting an ad together that looks very finished and slick. The problem is that all the ads look pretty much alike. A bunch of the cars already look alike too, so some ads with bold ideas in the illustrations could be helpful in making somebody stand out from the pack.