PSYCHEDELIC 60'S

Taking the Peacock animation to a more lyrical motif, in 1962 Graham's new animation was kaleidoscopic, supported musically by a gentle flute and harp.  This new Peacock appeared for the first time in an episode of the long running western series Laramie, and is commonly referred to as "The Laramie Peacock." 

TO SEE THE 1962 PEACOCK ANIMATION, CLICK ON THE PLAYER BELOW

 

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When NBC became the first full-color network in 1966, the Peacock literally signed on the network with The Today Show and concluded 16 hours later with The Tonight Show.  During his heyday, the Peacock appeared an average of  20 times per day!

 

DEFENDING THE BIRD

Confident in Graham's proven abilities as an artist and executive, NBC deemed him "Director of Design" in 1966.  In a memo to all employees, the president of NBC, Julian Goodman, stated, "(Graham) should be consulted for advice, guidance, and approval in all matters of design."  Frequently the Peacock's chief defender,  Graham put the kibosh on plans to superimpose Danny Thomas' face over the Peacock's, and a later attempt by Howard Johnson to have the Peacock 'spew' their products in a rainbow pattern.  "My responsibility here is to remind ourselves of  the importance of the tasteful use of the Peacock symbol," Graham wrote in a memo.  "The prospect of our bird spitting Howard Johnson rainbows may start it toward a terrible case of the pip, making it not only dead, but inedible."  


"Laugh In" gives The Peacock the bird

 

TO SEE THE LAUGH-IN PEACOCK, CLICK ON THE TV SCREEN BELOW
 

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Although Graham was fervent in protecting NBC's corporate logo from this type of contamination through cross promotions, some humor slipped under the radar.  Laugh In managed an end-run around NBC management when they animated the Peacock sneezing and blowing away his own feathers.

The animated Peacock billboard was retired in the late 60's.  By that time,  NBC and the other two networks were full color, and there was no need to banner it at the beginning of every program. The Peacock continued to appear in promotional items for NBC, but was largely unseen by the public in the 1970's. 

PEACOCK REDUX

Seeking to stay contemporary in its on-air look, NBC management decided that a new network logo was needed and the quest began in 1974.  Graham was consulted on the new corporate logo but NBC opted to go out-of-house with submissions from outside design firms.  Much money and effort were spent developing the infamous corporate "N," which premiered in 1975.  NBC was chagrined to learn that a similar N was already in use by Nebraska Educational Television, and paid another large sum to secure the exclusive use.



NBC's new logo (left) was too close to Nebraska ETV's logo

 

   
Graham sketched these variations of the new NBC logo

Graham left NBC in 1977 and continued his association with the network by serving as a consultant.  The rest of Graham's time was spent painting, illustrating  and designing layouts for books.

Meanwhile at NBC, the corporate "N" never caught on the way management had hoped for, leading the way for the Peacock's corporate comeback in the early 80's.


The "N" recedes behind the Peacock in the early 1980s

This time, the Peacock shared space with the 'N'.  Eventually the Peacock prevailed and the "N" quietly disappeared.  The new Peacock lost his feet and a few feathers in the process, retaining only six representing each division of NBC (News, Sports, Entertainment, Television Stations, Television Network, and Operations & Technical Services). The tiny spray of feathers above the Peacock's head disappeared and the Peacock turned his head to the right.  


THE CURRENT NBC PEACOCK

 

In the early 1990's NBC's promotion department experimented with some new Peacock promotional designs under the auspices of caricaturist Al Hirschfeld, avant-garde designer Peter Maxx, animation director John Kricfalusi (of Ren and Stimpy fame), animator J.J. Sedelmeier, and graphic artists David Daniels, Joan Gratz, and Mark Malmberg.  Animated versions of the Kricfalusi, Hirshfeld, and Max designs were seen on NBC during 1993.  Although technically a parody of the Grapham Peacock, the integrity of the presentations did not belittle the bird but celebrated his persona and even opened the door for even more cutting-edge animations over the next few years.

All Peacock designs (c) 1993/2013 NBC/Universal
 


This 1999 CGI follows the tradition established by John J. Graham's 1950's animation

TO SEE THE LATE 90'S CGI PEACOCK ANIMATION, CLICK ON THE TV SCREEN BELOW
 

 
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Today's on-air Peacock appears as a lower third 'bug' branding the show you're watching as being on NBC.  His print and merchandising self is still colorful and popular as ever, appearing in a myriad of products, including Beanie Babies, that are available through the NBC store.  In the mid 1990's NBC issued collectible Peacock pins that detail the icon's history from Graham's original design to the current 21st Century design.


NBC Collectable Pins
From top: 40's TV logo
 "N" with Peacock (1980), Color Chimes (1954)
Current Logo (2004)
"N" (1975), Original Peacock (1956)
NBC "Snake" (1959)

In the first decade of the 21st century declining network audiences and a bad economy made it necessary for NBC and the other networks to look for additional sources of revenue.  NBC relaxed the Graham rule against using the Peacock and corporate branding as seen in the example below. 
 


The Peacock's creator, John J. Graham, would have considered this a "no-no"!

 

In September of 2009 NBC's marketing department introduced a new Peacock campaign dubbed "More Colorful," a slogan that harkened back to the bird's 1950's origin.


For several years the Peacock went missing in the NBC/Universal logo but returned to the design in 2012.

(c) 2013 NBC/UNIVERSAL

 

For over fifty years John Graham's peacock has served the network as an iconic and popular branding tool.

In a lasting nod to its corporate logo, NBC is known by Variety, the 'bible' of the entertainment industry,  as "The Peacock" network.

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Special Thanks to Bruce Graham and David Schwartz

ALL NBC GRAPHICS/IMAGES/LOGOS (C) 2013 NATIONAL BROADCASTING COMPANY/UNIVERSAL

To see Peacock animations and lots of other great color television content, visit Kris Trexler's site at www.kingoftheroad.net/colorTV/colorTVlogos.html

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