Tuesday, March 23, 2021

6 degrees of what?

 Got an email the other day from my good friend and former Earthlink client Claudia Caplan. 

Though we knew each other by name and personal reputation as certified copywriting contrarians, we had never crossed paths in real life. That is until the brain trust at ABC decided they had seen enough Yellow and listened to enough brand pontificating and slowly backed away from Chiat/Day. 

Leaving my partner John Shirley and I without a client, which to be clear would have suited us fine. 

We could have watched episodes of the Simpsons all day, taken two hour lunches at Playa del Rey's Szechuan Palace, home of the dishwater Won Ton Soup, and collected our rather hefty paychecks and been perfectly happy. Instead we were assigned to be the lead Creative Director team on Earthlink.

In preparation for our first big presentation, John and I tapped into the gestalt of the day and created a whole campaign around Kevin Bacon and the iconic 6 degrees of separation.

The idea in a nutshell, and subject to my foggy recollection, revolved around Earthlink's unfiltered, unrestricted, unencumbered access to the entire internet, unlike AOL or other DSP's. And to demonstrate that we showed how with Earthlink, anything and anyone the known universe could be linked (get it) back to KB in 6 moves or less.

Take for instance the classical composer Gustav Mahler.

How in the world do you get from Gustav Mahler who introduced modernism to symphonic composition to Kevin Bacon, the goofy ROTC guard in Animal House?

Mahler was born in Vienna.

Hedy Lamar was also born in Vienna.

In addition to being an actress, Lamar was also a famed inventor and created the precursor to wifi as well as echo location technology.

Echo location was used by the protagonists in Tremors to hunt down the giant earthworms.

The cast of Tremors included Kevin Bacon.

I'm sure you can see how this platform could be pushed in a million different directions. And it captured the freewheeling nature of the Internet, where you could go deep on classical composers or spend your time watching videos of cats making pancakes.

The scripts and storyboards we did are now somewhere at the bottom of a landfill in Los Feliz, but I will immodestly say it would have been a fun, groundbreaking campaign.

And Claudia agrees. Sadly she could not push this through the corporate bureaucracy that stymies so many good ideas. 

But she did see the new spot with Kevin for some mobile phone service. Neither of us could remember the name of the client. Nor, apart from the appearance of Kevin Bacon and his mention of the now dated 6 degrees game -- which left my daughters scratching their heads --could we recall any details of the commmercials.

Life in advertising.


dave trott said...

Don't know if this is what you were referring to.
Must be about 5 years old by now.

dave trott said...


Rich Siegel said...

That's very similar to the spot we had envisioned in 2001. Like I said, "life in advertising."