Thursday, July 14, 2005

Andy Rooney made us do it.

I'm not a regular viewer of 60 Minutes, but like any American I have watched it from time to time. One segment from the show has stuck in my head for years.

It was back in the early 1990s. I was living in New York, fresh out of college and just starting to make my way into advertising as a copywriter. I was completely enamored with advertising and especially agency creative departments. Getting paid to be a bit of a smartass. No dress codes. Beer!

So there I was, watching 60 Minutes because the internet didn't really exist yet. And curmudgeonly Andy Rooney started talking. I should add that I've never been an especially big Andy Rooney fan — the grumpy old man bit wears a little thin. But, on this particular evening, he was talking about television commercials. More specifically, he was commenting on the fact that he found so many commercials incredibly clever. Smart. Witty.

Yes, I thought, those are exactly the things I want to create. Clever, smart, witty commercials.

But then he wondered aloud why people who were smart enough to make these clever commercials were content to spend their life making, ah, commercials.

"Ah, you grumpy old coot!" I said to Andy Rooney.

He went on. He believed that the creative people who make these commercials should use their talents to make things that are more lasting. Basically, things that would stick around in places besides dusty awards show annuals. Make something, he implored. Go out and make something people can use more than another commercial.

Since I was spending 90% of my waking hours trying to break into advertising, I tried to push Andy Rooney's thoughts out of my mind. But I could not.

For years, Andy Rooney has haunted me every time I worked on the fifth revision to a commercial that was on a fast track to mediocrity. I've heard his voice every time I've worked with a client who I truly admired because they were getting up every day and creating things that people might actually want to buy — beer, snowboards, cereal. And I am certain that I have actually seen Andy Rooney as I sat staring through a focus group window.

Damn you, Andy Rooney.

This year, here at Black Lab Five, we decided to do something about this problem. We wanted to design something and get it made. Naturally, it's our own line of steel furniture. Steel furniture and advertising being so closely related.

Whatever the case, we're getting things made. The pieces are designed by Kent Elliott, our Creative Director.

The brand is Local 59 . (Regular blog readers may have already visited the beta site. Thanks for the input.) Right now, we're selling a desk/table in two different sizes. We plan to introduce more pieces in the coming months. We're also selling T-shirts along with our furniture.

We're sure many people will dislike our furniture and, probably, our T-shirt. But we believe that products that succeed generate polarity of opinion. Otherwise, you're just average.

And even if nobody but us likes the thinking behind Local 59 , I'm still happy we've taken the plunge. At least I won't have Andy Rooney's voice in my head anymore.


Anonymous willielove said...

Do you make the Discotron 2000 DJ platform?

By the way, how do you gets those tables through the door?

Cool stuff!

1:26 PM  
Blogger Black Lab Five said...

Nice to see you back with a comment, Willie Love. Always appreciate the input.

The tables are shipped flat — the legs are bolted on by the buyer upon arrival. It's really easy.

The Discotron 2000 DJ platform is now officially in the works.

7:16 PM  

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