Monday, December 3, 2007

The Secret Origin of the Chowdown Pool!

A couple of weeks ago jja asked me if the inspiration for the Chowdown Pool had been based on bean dip.

I answered that it wasn't and that I'd get around to revealing a bit about how the Chowdown Pool evolved into its existence.

There were two influences--the more famous and well known would be the wonderful m&m ads that ran when I was a kid.

The one I found on YouTube has a bit of a silly Tarzan theme but the animation in the middle was most definitely a big springboard for my imagination about how the Beans found nourishment.

For a long, long time every m&m commercial featured the dipping in the pool of chocolate followed by the shower of candy coating. This imagery definitely stuck in my mind and tumbled out as the Chowdown Pool much later.

The second, and far less famous influence, was the Ross Root Feeder. I worked on this account for close to a decade working on package design and print ads.

The Ross Root Feeder was a perforated spike that had a reservoir that you put plant food into and attached to a garden hose. The theory was that the nutrients and trace minerals would seep out of the spike and feed the tree's deep roots. The product still exists after 60 years so I'm pretty sure it actually worked quite well.

But did you catch the phrase that I just used?
"Nutrients and trace minerals." I can't begin to tell you how many times I had to lay out or keyline stuff that included that phrase.

In the late '70s/early '80s I drew a storyboard for a potential television commercial that showed dancing, happy, sparkling nutrients and trace minerals going from the device, into the roots of the tree and and up into the healthy shimmering leaves.

The client hated it.
As far as I know that artwork is completely lost.
But I took some of the ideas from those storyboards and incorporated them into the emerging Beanworld.

And now you know!


Geo said...

This is awesome stuff. Thanks Larry.

Anonymous said...

So, early M&Ms ads targeted the lucrative "swingers" demographic.

I learn new things every day! :p

I also love these looks at the things that helped shape the Beanworld!

Larry Marder said...

I think by the time that the Tarzan parody ad aired...people already understood the Rosser Reeves USP message that "m&m's melt in your mouth and not in your hand." And pitch was running its course regarding "no chocolate mess."
But one should not underestimate what a strong message that was to post-war baby boomer parents trying to keep a modicum of cleanliness in their homes. m&m mars was in a very intense struggle with the Hershey bar (one of the de facto wartime currencies for the American military overseas).
The candy coated little treats were a genuinely unique product and these ads really did an excellent job of communicating its unique properties. The visual imagery obviously hit a bulls eye with me!

jasonturner said...

Well isn't that interesting!
It is pretty funny making the M & M -> Bean connection.

My wife used a related spike watering system last summer in our garden. It just attached to empty plastic bottles though.

JJA said...

"A beautiful idea killed..." But the facts are much more interesting. Thanks for telling us!