The Tale Behind MTV2's Talking Baby

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It's a whole 'nother channel.
According to David Oakley, Boone/Oakley -- the Charlotte, N.C., agency he founded with partner John Boone -- was just days away from pitching MTV some ideas for MTV2, when he remembered a bit he'd seen performed by Charlotte's Perch Live Sketch Comedy Theater Club. The skit featured a clumsily manipulated baby doll -- aka Talking Baby -- reviewing movies in a loud grumpy voice. "If Talking Baby can review films, maybe Talking Baby can review videos or artists," Oakley remembers thinking.

The agency approached comedian Sean Keenan, the voice of Talking Baby, and asked him to write some scripts, which they shot on a handicam and showed to the executives at MTV. Boone/Oakley won the assignment and MTV2's "Talking Baby" branding campaign began airing this week with the tagline "Where the music's at."

The agency re-shot the handicam clips they showed MTV -- the final spots were directed by a team dubbed Mortimer Jones via Charlotte production house Boulevard -- although you'd never know it. The Talking Baby effort is low lo-fi, featuring nine spots of an out-of-control doll ranting about everything from Metallica to the French. "I think that guys 21 to 27 are jaded," Oakley explains. "They have advertising messages in their face all the time. It doesn't seem like an ad. It seems like something someone just shot in their basement." That it does, although Boone/Oakley has been known to do more with less. During the 2000 presidential campaign, the agency grabbed national headlines for with a teaser billboard featuring a picture of George W. Bush and the slogan "Gore 2000." After stonewalling the press for a weekend, the intentional gaffe was replaced with a want ad for a proofreader. But will Talking Baby catch on? "It will be interesting for me to see what the reaction will be," Oakley says. "I think they're funny, and hopefully the target audience will think so too."

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