I’d file them under the sub-heading of “The Pleasures of the Deceptively Simple.” Yes, they’re stylized. Yes, they’re graphic. They’re also masterpieces of communication and entertaining advertising, boasting many innovations and good old-fashioned traditional know-how. First, there’s the soundtrack: John and Faith Hubley recorded semi-improvised dialogue, charming mistakes and all, with their young son Mark, making the character sound like a real kid. Wow, what a concept!
The Hubleys later used this technique in their many personal short films – with their offspring in films like Moonbird and Cockaboody, and almost as talented adults like Dudley Moore and Dizzy Gillespie in films like The Hole and The Hat. Then there’s the design and animation. UPA-style flattened (practically vertical) perspectives, graphic curlicues that somehow behave like oatmeal, and character animation – most of it by master animator Emery Hawkins – that has, despite the stylization, form, weight, timing, tons of appeal, and all the other stuff you would expect in a beautifully crafted traditional production.
Here are links to three others: here, here and here. While the last spot doesn’t quite hold up for me, compared with the other three, they’re all marvelous, and, I think, worthy of some serious scrutiny. The Hubleys were masters at making the abstract appealing and accessible, and it’s great to see these ads again as the precursors and colleagues of their innovative Storyboard short films of the late 1950s and early ’60s, especially The Tender Game and The Adventures of *, decent prints of which I hope to upload in future posts. Thanks for playing.