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Annapolis ad man one of the brains behind the Crash Test Dummies

Seat belt safety campaign launched in mid-1980s to be showcased by Smithsonian

July 30, 2010|By Lorraine Mirabella, The Baltimore Sun

They went on playing out those roles. We were pushing to be as edgy as we could in what we were showing. [All spots ended with] "You could learn a lot from a dummy. Buckle your safety belt."

Q: Tell me about production of the TV spots.

A: We had very little money to do the campaign. It was pro bono and public service.

William Dear directed all the spots. He was the best comedy director of television commercials and was working on [the movie] "Harry and the Hendersons." He brought on the special-effects guys that worked on "Star Wars." The director of photography was Allen Daviau, who was Steven Spielberg's director of photography and shot "E.T." and "The Color Purple."

When we went to get voices, we got [comedian] Jack Burns as the voice of Vince, and Larry was [actor] Lorenzo Music, who was the voice of Carlton the Doorman in [the TV show] "Rhoda" and went on to become the voice of Garfield the cat.

Q: How did the Crash Test Dummies campaign shape your later work?

A: It underscored that … great creative does produce great results. That propelled me in that sense. I worked on McDonald's, the campaign that launched "super size" onto the American landscape, and was creative director on Hallmark for three or four years and did a number of spots that won awards. I've been at Crosby now for five years. Crosby is a perfect place for me.

The whole idea is to inspire actions that matter; instead of selling hamburgers or toothpaste, we're trying to get people to do something that will make a difference in the world. Some clients are the U.S. Department of Agriculture, helping them to fight several invasive species, and we work on Social Security Administration, helping to get seniors to register online.

Q: Has there been any talk of resurrecting the dummies?

A: No one has talked to me about it, but I would love that to happen. I think it would be a great idea to bring them back. You still see people who don't buckle, and there are new issues today with texting and cell phone use. Car safety is and always will be an issue.

lorraine.mirabella@baltsun.com

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