Today would have been the legendary Saul Bass’s 93rd birthday and Google Doodle has paid tribute to him on its homepage by piecing together some of his signature film title sequences – “Vertigo,” “The Man with the Golden Arm,” “Psycho,” “Anatomy of a Murder,” “West Side Story,” among others.
This brought to mind my brief encounter with Saul. About two years before he died, I was assigned to interview him for an article on film title sequences. In his late 70s then, Saul had downsized his Sunset Boulevard studio maintaining what he called “a repertory group,” a small core staff with additional expertise brought in on an as needed basis. At the time, he was doing a title sequence for his friend “Marty’s”(Scorsese) film, and explained that at this stage in his career, he only wanted to work with “nice people who respect and like us and who we respect and admire…I don’t want to deal with clients who think we’re just doing a job for them. With rare exception, all our clients think we are wonderful and we think they are wonderful.” From a career standpoint, that seemed to me like the ultimate luxury.
Motel 6 chose an interesting way to tell consumers that they’ve been around for a half century. They “time traveled” both the station wagon and the family of four inside through the decades by morphing them into the latest styles. For those who are baffled about how Motel 6 got its name, here’s the story. The motel chain was founded in 1962 by two building contractors in Santa Barbara, California, who figured out how to offer bargain rates by calculating out the cost of land, construction and ongoing maintenance. By cutting out any frills, they decided they could offer rooms at $6 a night and still make a profit – hence, the name Motel 6. Of course, inflation and other factors have caused room rates to go up multifold over the past 50 years, but relative to other hotels, it is still considered affordable to penny-pinching families.
This commercial was made by Dallas ad agency, The Richards Group, which has been running Motel 6 ad campaigns since the 1980s. They were the ones who came up with Motel 6’s famous tagline “We’ll leave the light on for you.” The Richards Group teamed with the production firm King and Country (K&C), which made the 30-second spot from start to finish – production, direction, editorial, animation and VFX – completely inhouse. Rick Gledhill directed for K&C.
Since 1998, Google has been regularly posting doodle logos on its homepage, which is why today it put up a playable and recordable tribute to guitarist Les Paul on what would have been his 96th birthday.
The custom reputedly started when Google founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin designed and posted a doodle of the Burning Man Festival in 1998 to alert users of their absence in case the servers crashed. Since then, doodle logos have appeared to honor the birthdays of famous figures from Gandhi and John Lennon to Michael Jackson and Edvard Munch and to celebrate significant holidays and events worldwide. Lately the doodle logos have become more elaborate. On February 8, Google ran an interactive doodle honoring sci-fi writer Jules Verne’s 183rd birthday, and on April 15th, it commemorated Charlie Chaplin’s 122nd birthday with its first video doodle. As far as we know, the homage to Les Paul is the first playable doodle. As if we don’t have enough reason to go to Google; now it’s to check out its doodle logo for the day.