Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Shirley Temple, 1928-2014.

Years ago, or rather decades, I worked for a mid-sized agency that had some small portions of Coca-Cola business.

They didn't have any of the big brands, rather we labored endlessly on tiny sodas that Coke wanted to test to see if they had national or even international viability. Working on such sodas meant that day in and day out we churned out storyboard after storyboard, literally hundreds of boards in the hopes that one would make it to the client, make it through focus groups and somehow get produced.

I think it was my partner Craig who had the idea originally.

He came in one morning into the small office we worked in and he threw down the gauntlet.

"Shirley Temple in a can," he said.

"Explain," I said laconically.

"Everyone loves a Shirley Temple. That Sprite, orange-juice and grenadine concoction. Coke should can it and sell it."

In two shakes of a lamb's tail we were on the blower to Ghana where Ms. Shirley Temple Black was ambassador. We ran the idea by the Honorable.

Needless to say, the old girl loved it.

Quickly we drew up a storyboard. Through the magic of computer generated art, we would have the child Shirley Temple tap-dancing up a flight of steps not with Bill "Bojangles" Robinson, but with a can of "Shirley!" This sort of computer-generation animation was just coming into vogue. It was the right technique at the right time.

We ran the board down the hall to our Creative Director. Next thing we knew we were on a private jet to Atlanta to present to Coke's brass.

The rest, as they say, is history.

Shirley! became the soft-drink industry's biggest hit of 1984. Demand hugely outstripped supply. But before long, its popularity began to plummet. It seemed Shirley! was just too sweet for an adult palate and people stayed away in droves.

For Shirley!, Craig and I, it was back to the drawing board.

I'll miss ya, keed.

I'll miss ya.

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