At the time, it seemed like a horrible mistake. And like mistakes sometimes can, it led to a new, uncharted, wonderful life.
It was the beginning of the peaking of “the internet” 1.0, which, honestly, I wanted nothing to do with “the internet.” I liked email, I liked Amazon.com. But I also liked the career I had staked out producing cartoons and media consulting. I was 48 years old, gotten married again, had a couple of kids. And felt like I’d finally settled into to doing something pretty well. I didn’t really want to start over with something new, no matter how exciting. Really.
However, to make a long story short, I succumbed. In 1999, after seven years in Los Angeles, my family and I moved to New York, and I became the president of MTV Networks Online, which included MTV.com and Nick.com. Joining a constantly innovating media as part of an established media company —no matter how fresh they may have been back in the day— was exactly the wrong way to go. And “go” I did. Within a year I was back to producing and consulting. But, I’d never be the same again —the whole world wouldn’t be— and, at least I got a head start on all of my old media pals.
But, great things came out of the experience. For instance, the campaign for MTV’s website Sonicnet.com (which I’ll write about elsewhere). I got some new friendships, especially my partnership with engineer/thinker Emil Rensing (which eventually led to us founding Next New Networks). Most importantly, I gained a new perspective on everything media, right into the belly of the beast of the new I tried to avoid. My innate curiosity paid off once again.0 comments Tagged: MTV Networks, MTV Networks Online, mtv.com, nick.com, Nickelodeon, MTV, Sonicnet.com,.
Alan Goodman and I met at WKCR-FM, our college radio station, in 1970; we’ve been the greatest of friends and collaborators ever since. We tagged team each other on personal work projects for the next 10 years, and Alan was the person I turned to for guidance the night I made the decision to turn away from record production and move into cable TV. Six months later Alan joined me at MTV Networks.
For three years we helped turn the television world upside down and then we’d had enough. In April 1983 we booked the corporate life and set up Fred/Alan, Inc. (figuring all of our clients would have to be old to get the joke). At the start we thought the company would produce TV shows and movies; in fact the precipitating event that caused us to quit our jobs was a deal to make a music video show for The Playboy Channel.
The First TV Branding Company
But the thing that capapulted Fred/Alan was what turned out to be our innovative network branding work for MTV; no one had really thought about television the same way before. In quick succession we were able to develop and launch all the key MTV networks (Nickelodeon, VH-1: Video Hits One, HA! The TV Comedy Network, Comedy Central); and we virtually invented Nick-at-Nite, the very first oldies network). Most successfully, Fred/Alan was able to take Nickelodeon from worst to first in the ratings within six months and established their brand around the world (Alan and I have separately maintained relationships with Nick ever since).
Fred/Alan morphed into a full service advertising agency, adding media buying, print production, and account management to our creative and strategic capabilities. It was the first agency to brand itself as a demographically specialized company.
In 1989 we moved back into television series, setting up Chauncey Street Productions with our old friend Albie Hecht, and went on to produce hundreds of TV episodes for A&E, AMC, CBS, Comedy Central/HA!, MTV, Nickelodeon, and others.
But after a while we couldn’t take it anymore. Our branding approaches had become commodified as our more motivated former employees, the clients we had trained, and every graphic design firm all became media branding experts. We were turning down lucrative offers to buy the company since we knew it would require years more of servitude.
After many years together, Alan married my sister Elena in early 1992, and in February we announced the closing of Fred/Alan. Albie bought Chauncey Street, and Alan went on to become a successful writer/producer.0 comments Tagged: Fred/Alan, Alan Goodman, advertising, branding, MTV Networks, MTV, Nickelodeon,.
Fred/Alan was my agency in partnership with Alan Goodman and we worked with Nickelodeon from 1984 through 1992 as brand, marketing, and programming consults, as their advertising agency, and with Albie Hecht through it’s Chauncey Street Productions subsidiary, as television producers.0 comments Tagged: Nickelodeon, television, branding, networks IDs, animation,.