Creative Focus: Detroit – IN A FAMILY WAY IT’S COOL

In the wide world of creative teams, Campbell-Ewald’s Marie Abraham and David Goldberg are considered newlyweds, working together only 18 months. And, as Abraham likes to tell people, they have a new baby.

Well, not a real baby.

Actually, their most recent endeavor, a spot for the launch of the Chevrolet Venture minivan, is titled ‘Baby.’ Starring a precocious 2-year-old, the ad educates viewers on the usefulness of separate front and rear sound systems because ‘kids don’t ever listen to the same music their parents do.’ Before that, the pair had the daunting task of sifting through reels of old TV clips to piece together the campaign’s introductory spot, ‘TV Land,’ to seed the minivan’s new tag, ‘Let’s Go.’

In truth, art director Abraham and copywriter Goldberg might more easily be mistaken for brother and sister. ‘We’re both free-spirited,’ he says. ‘I guess I’m a little more conservative than Marie, but we’re both pretty weird. We both like crazy, kitschy things.’

The idea for ‘Baby’ remained virtually unchanged from its conception, something Goldberg says is rare. ‘Nothing ever makes it through from the very beginning,’ he laughs. But it wasn’t completely clear sailing. At first, they thought the controls for the stereo were on the armrest. After discovering the controls were on the overhead console, they had to come up with a way for the baby to change the station, thus the throwing of the toys. Then, they had to write in the baby donning the headphones, since the rear stereo can only be heard that way. ‘I just kept saying, ‘We’ll make it work,” Goldberg says. The spot climaxes with the baby singing Italian opera as her parents stare back in amazement.

The agency’s executive creative director, Bill Ludwig, marvels at how the pair has avoided falling into rigid art director/copywriter roles. ‘Look at their Venture work,’ he says. ‘It’s a tremendous visual demonstration. But it doesn’t rely on the typical storyboard script; it’s all working in sync. It’s more about an idea.’

Abraham, 34, has been pushing ideas at CE for eight years, after coming to the agency from Leo Burnett’s now-defunct Detroit office, where she worked on Oldsmobile. Goldberg, 27, has been at CE for three years, after two years at Young & Rubicam’s Detroit office, where he worked on Lincoln-Mercury. Their brainstorming sessions are often stolen moments, here and there. ‘We always have to work fast because we’re always busy,’ Abraham says. ‘It’s like, ‘Have you got five minutes?”

Often, Abraham gets inspired driving home at night and both are receptive to anything the other brings to the floor–even if initially it seems out-to-lunch. ‘You have to be open-minded,’ she says. ‘Even if it’s not your idea, work with it, see where it goes. There’s the advertising part of you, based on the strategy; you really want to do what people want, and what’s cool. But philosophy wise, I try to come up with ideas, absorb things that are around me.’ Goldberg’s mantra: ‘Find the greatest, best way to solve a problem. Then push yourself.’

General Motors’ precision targeting of each vehicle defines their creative direction, says Goldberg. Although the four-spot Venture campaign was created by three different teams, the ads fit nicely together. ‘When we looked at the rough cuts, before all the special effects, they all felt like family,’ Goldberg says. ‘It was a pleasing thing, after so much work, to see them all the feel the same.’

What’s next? More Venture stuff and some Chevy Tahoe work due in the fall. Abraham and Goldberg drive on. Can you say ‘happy couple’? –Tanya Gazdik

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