This is a commercial from 1992, part of a campaign for Apple Cinnamon Cheerios, produced at Colossal Pictures in San Francisco.
The campaign started the year prior, designed & directed by Mike Smith, with animation in the first spot done by Russell Brooke. This spot here was directed by Phil Robinson with Mike Smith as the creative director. The storyboard was by Mike & Phil, the layouts by me, and animation was done by Chris Hauge & Dave Feiss (I did some animation too, after finishing the layouts). Art direction & backgrounds were painted by Dave Gordon. Such campaigns were the bread & butter of indy commercials animation studios, and kept the lights on, so that other fun stuff could be tinkered with. (rock videos, title sequences, short films and so on).
This commercial was my first ever encounter with ink & paint all being done digitally. The animation, in-betweens and backgrounds were all drawn on paper at Colossal Pictures, but then we went down to USAnimation‘s facility in LA to finish colouring in their computer. (USAnimation later merged with Toon Boom, and their software eventually became what is now Toon Boom Harmony).
During the production of this cereal campaign, I learned the importance of the phrase heard at the end of every cereal commercial; “a part of this balanced breakfast“. The word ‘part‘ being the crucial legal escape-hatch in this wordplay shell game. When drawing the layout for said breakky (at the very end) I’d omitted the glass of orange juice mentioned in the script. This wasn’t noticed till the very last minute, causing a great wailing & gnashing of teeth in the agency legal department. Because without the juice, the scene did not show a balanced breakfast at all (there’s probably more nutrition in the cardboard cereal box than your typical bowl of American breakky cereal). Advertising is simply the flashiest exaggeration & the biggest lie that can be gotten away with, legally speaking, and I’d left out the vital part..
Thankfully, Dave Gordon was able to paint in the juice at the last minute, sufficient vitamins were thus on screen when the famous phrase was uttered, and false-advertising lawsuits (& legal department aneurisms) were averted. But those nerve-wracked snakeoil salesmen were biting their nails & chugging their Pepto Bismol right down to the wire, just like in the photo finish of the commercial itself.
Speaking of that, one of the fun things about this commercial was the animated flipbook that was drawn by Mike Smith. Just as in bygone days when knick knacks were sometimes included in boxes of cereal, this flipbook was included in marked boxes of Apple Cinnamon Cheerios, allowing interested parties to discover exactly who’d won the race.