Website(s) of the Week (and Competition Winner)

  • 11/17/2009 05:31:00 pm
  • By Mark Gibbings-Jones
  • 1 Comments

Firstly, we have a winner for our Spitting Image DVD Box Set competition. Step forward James Wallace. Expect the goodies in the post soon. Meanwhile, thanks to everyone else for entering. We wish we could have given each of you a prize, though not to the extent of actually going out, buying lots of things and sending them out to you. We’re merely paying lip service to politeness there. But thanks for entering, anyway.

Secondly, why have we never thought about posting links to other websites we’ve just discovered before now? Er, don’t write in. It’s not another competition or anything, we were just wondering aloud. This is the sort of thing we’ve found on our travels around the web:

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And what is that? A logo for a local radio station? A new streaming music service? Well, interestingly enough, it’s the original, rejected-before-launch channel identity for MTV. It was later replaced by the amorphous channel identity you’re probably already very familiar with:

image Exciting 1980s US TV ident related facts such as this can be found at the utterly engrossing Fred/Alan Archive and at the personal blog of Fred Seibert.

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Fred (Seibert) and Alan (Goodman) were the duo behind much of the design and feel for the fledgling MTV network, back when there was nothing else quite like it anywhere else in the world. While the MTV ‘brand’ isn’t anywhere near as iconic nowadays, what with it being yet another outlet for imported reality shows and little else, in the 1980s it represented a huge change in how cable television was perceived in the US. Until MTV, many people thought the term ‘cable TV’ was synonymous with ‘HBO’ and little else, but Fred and Alan’s branding help change that perception.

In 1983, Fred and Alan left MTV to form the world’s first “TV Branding Company”. Named Fred/Alan in reference to a quote from old radio superstar Fred Allen (“This drudgery, this sham, this goldmine”), The company helped develop and launch a number of (now well known) networks, such as VH-1, Nick At Nite and Comedy Central, and helped transform the flailing Nickelodeon from the worst performing cable channel in the USA to the most popular, within six months. The company dealt with the identities and promotion of several more channels, with various degrees of success, before closing its doors in 1992.

The Fred/Alan site contains a lot of interesting information on how all this came about, and also contains lots of interesting ident montages that couldn’t be any more 1980s if they were wearing stonewash denim. The personal site of Fred Seibert – who became president of Hanna-Barbera on leaving Fred/Alan - contains a lot of insider information on the world of TV design and promotion as well as the world of animation. Interesting stuff. Retro TV spods should also enjoy embedded Scribd documents of old magazines, such as a copy of Cablevision from 1982.

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The Fred/Alan Archive: http://fredalan.org/
Fred Seibert: http://fredseibert.com/

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