As the hardworking staff promised, we got in touch with the creative director of the 1999 Volkswagen commercial that featured Nick Drake’s Pink Moon:
This all got started when Drake’s producer Joe Boyd said the following in an NPR Weekend All Things Considered interview:
I met the creative team who put the ad together and they were a bunch of kind of slackers from an alternative Boston ad agency. And this guy told me that they built the whole storyboard for the ad around a track by The Church, and the night before the presentation to Volkswagen he was sitting at home smoking . . . something . . . and listening to Pink Moon and he suddenly had this blinding insight that this was the track – not The Church track.
Wrong and wrong – as then-creative director of Arnold Worldwide (not “an alternative Boston ad agency” but the second-largest ad agency in New England) Alan Pafenbach told us:
“When the legend becomes fact, print the legend.” It makes a better story, so what the hell. He gives us credit and probably between me Lance [Jensen] and Shane Hutton there probably was a general impression of slackerdom. Truth is it happened in the edit and Volkswagen never was given a choice.
In other words, why get technical about it.
Joe Boyd here – what’s the correct version? This is what I was told by a guy (dressed as I described) who claimed he was the one to come up with the idea of using Pink Moon instead of Midnight Ride. Happy to set the record straight, but what is it?
Actually, Joe, I’m having lunch tomorrow with the creative director of the spot – I’ll try to get the full story from him.
Did you find anything more out at lunch?
My guy says there are parallel realities at play, but he’s sticking with his “picked Nick Drake during the edit” version. What happened (or was smoked) before then is open to interpretation.
I have to disagree. I have a clear recollection of being sent the story board before the shoot. Perhaps it was already shot, but we weren’t told. Also, I have a clear memory of the meeting two years later in Boston with the agency and hearing the guy who came with the Pink Moon idea telling me about listening at home and bringing the idea in the next day to the rest of the team, right before the VW exec came for a meeting. I may have exaggerated “that same morning” for the VW meeting, but I know it was very soon after the switch from the The Church to Nick Drake.
You get the last word: http://bit.ly/1907fcT
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