Leading The Way
One of my favorite holiday traditions is gathering together with my family in front of our television for an annual viewing of beloved Christmas specials, including “A Charlie Brown Christmas”, “It’s A Wonderful Life”, “How The Grinch Stole Christmas”, and the one that started it all – “Rudolph The Red Nosed Reindeer.”
I did not know this until recently, but before Rudolph, there was no annual watching and re-watching of holiday specials. The success of Rudolph, which was watched by 55% of households when it debuted 50 years ago, ushered in this ritual of Christmas specials being replayed on television each year and making their viewing one of the traditions of the holidays.
I cannot imagine the Christmas season without these specials. The same programs that I watch with my kids today are ones that I grew up with, having watched them with my own parents when I was a small boy basking in the magic of the holidays. I can unequivocally say that my absolute love of Christmas comes from my childhood memories of the holiday, and my childhood memories of the holiday would be incomplete without the happiness that I derived from these Christmas specials. I have Rankin/Bass to thank for that.
A Rankin/Bass Production
Rankin/Bass Productions, led by the company’s namesakes Arthur Rankin Jr. and Jules Bass, was the company behind the “Rudolph The Red Nosed Reindeer” special. What they created not only opened the door to many other holiday classics (in the two years after Rudolph’s successful debut, the Christmas specials “A Charlie Brown Christmas” and “How The Grinch Stole Christmas” were released), but it also set Rankin/Bass Productions up as the go-to company for this yuletide programming.
Rankin/Bass Productions went on to create “The Year Without A Santa Claus”, “Frosty The Snowman”, “Santa Claus is Coming to Town” and a host of other holiday mainstays, including my personal favorite, the underrated and often forgotten “The Life and Adventures of Santa Claus.” The success that Rankin/Bass found with Rudolph, which at the time was an expensive risk that the company and the network took, not only changed an industry, but it also cemented the fortunes and legacy of this production company as the undisputed kings of the Christmas special.
At its core, this is a story of innovation at its finest.
I work in technology, so “innovation” is something that I encounter on a pretty regular basis. That’s one of the things I love about what I do – the sense that no problem is insurmountable. That no matter the challenge, there is a solution, even if we have to completely develop that solution ourselves. I think about our company’s InFlight Cloud Platform, which was recently awarded a “Better Way Award” for Cloud Innovation at Dell World 2014. That is a perfect example of a solution that was developed to solve a particular problem for a particular set of clients, but which has since gotten a more powerful reaction than we had dared to dream possible. Will it change an industry the way that the Rankin/Bass production of Rudolph changed holiday television? Who knows, but what is exciting is that it has the potential to do so! Every time you innovate, you change the world in some way, big or small. That is an incredibly exciting and powerful position to be in. As technology professionals, we can literally help build the future.
Like Rudolph leading the way for Santa with his “nose so bright”, I am honored to be part of an organization that is leading the way forward to a brighter future for our clients our company.
To all my family, friends, colleagues, and clients – Merry Christmas. May your holiday season be filled with Rankin/Bass specials and good cheer.
Note: See this article for additional reading on the importance of Rudolph to holiday TV.