Friday, February 3, 2012

We've Only Just Begun

It started for me as a mystery. The building where I work is owned by Crocker Plaza Company. Across the street is the Crocker Galleria. The word "Crocker" is all over these few blocks. Who was this mysterious "Crocker" I wondered...

Long term residents of the Bay Area may not find that a mystery at all. Turns out the large Wells Fargo branch across the street used to be the flagship location of Crocker National Bank. They were quite the player in Northern California banking until they fell on some hard times in the 80s and were acquired by Wells Fargo in 1986 for $1.07 billion in the largest banking merger in history at that time. (By comparison, twelve years later NationsBank acquired Bank of America  for $64 billion.)

Crocker National Bank has another claim to fame. Nowadays a pop song comes out and immediately gets licensed to the hilt to appear in TV commercials and shows. Like when you could hear Train's Hey Soul Sister every time you turned on the TV a few years ago.. But back in the 1970, it happened the other way round when The Carpenters took a song from a Crocker National Bank commercial, rerecorded it, and made it a hit.

That's right, this is how We've Only Just Begun began:

It was a ground-breaking ad in its day. Crocker didn't want a conventional jingle, and any mention of the bank or its products was deliberately left out of the song. It's shot in a music video style, and the bank's name doesn't appear until the very end. If you updated the clothes and had a celebrity do a voice-over at the end, it would be at home in this Sunday's Super Bowl.

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In 1789, the governor of Australia granted land and some animals to James Ruse in an experiment to see how long it would take him to support himself. Within 15 months he had become self sufficient. The area is still known as Experiment Farm. This is my Experiment Farm to see how long it will take me to support myself by writing.