Logos and Slogans
CBS unveiled its Eye Device logo on October 20, 1951. Before that, from the 1940s through 1951, CBS Television used an oval spotlight on the block letters C-B-S. The Eye device was conceived by William Golden based on a Pennsylvania Dutch hex sign as well as a Shaker drawing. (While commonly attributed to Golden, there is speculation that at least some design work on the symbol may have been done by another CBS staff designer, Georg Olden, one of the first African-Americans to attract some attention in the postwar graphic design field.) The Eye device made its broadcasting debut on October 20, 1951. The following season, as Golden prepared a new "ident," CBS President Frank Stanton insisted on keeping the Eye device and using it as much as possible. (Golden died unexpectedly in 1959, and was replaced by one of his top assistants, Lou Dorfsman, who would go on to oversee all print and on-air graphics for CBS for the next thirty years.)
An example of CBS Television Network's imaging (and the distinction between the television and radio networks) may be seen in a video of The Jack Benny Program from 1953; the video appears to be converted from kinescope, and "unscoped" or unedited. One sees the program very nearly as one would have seen it live on CBS. Don Wilson is the program announcer, but also voices a promo for Private Secretary, which starred Ann Sothern and alternated weekly with Jack Benny on the CBS schedule. Benny continued to appear on CBS radio and television at that time, and Wilson makes a promo announcement at the end of the broadcast for Benny's radio program on the CBS Radio Network. The program closes with the "CBS Television Network" ID slide (the "CBS eye" over a field of clouds with the words "CBS Television Network" superimposed over the eye). There is, however, no voiceover accompanying the ID slide. It is unclear whether it was simply absent from the recording or never originally broadcast (a staff announcer may have provided a voiceover message, if so, it was not recorded on this clip).
The CBS eye is now an American icon. While the symbol's settings have changed, the Eye device itself has not been redesigned in its entire history. In the network's new graphic identity created by Trollbäck + Company in 2006, the eye is being placed in a "trademark" position on show titles, days of the week and descriptive words, an approach highly respecting the value of the eye. The eye logo has frequently been copied or borrowed by television networks around the world, notable examples being the Austrian Broadcasting System (ORF) which used to use a red version of the eye logo, Associated TeleVision in the United Kingdom, Frecuencia Latina in Peru, Nippon Television in Japan and Rede Bandeirantes in Brazil. The logo is alternately known as the Eyemark, which was also the name of CBS's domestic and international syndication divisions in the mid-to-late 1990s before the King World acquisition and Viacom merger.
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“The art of the critic in a nutshell: to coin slogans without betraying ideas. The slogans of an inadequate criticism peddle ideas to fashion.”
—Walter Benjamin (18921940)