Animation World Magazine profiles Jared, the singing, animated smiley face which has become a cult phenomenon on the World Wide Web.
You may have seen him on the Web. You may have seen him in the office. Or perhaps you've seen him on the new Blockbuster Video television commercial. Chances are, you've seen him somewhere. Move over dancing baby...It's Jared, and he's everywhere!
Jared is a self-contained animated application created by brothers Colin, Ian and Jared Smith. Colin and Ian own and operate a New York-based freeware game producer, Freeverse Software. Real-life brother Jared is a social worker with a bent for singing in Spanish. "About two and a half years ago, we were in the office, recording sound for a video game. Our brother Jared [Smith] was visiting, and he sang this song," recalled Colin, "Our mother's birthday was coming up, so we created this little application for her as a gift. It was just too funny not to share with everybody." So Colin and Ian e-mailed the file to a few friends. The rest, as they say, is history. Friends mailed it to friends, who mailed it to more friends...people gathered around office computers to view and hear the howling wonder which soon became known as "Jared: the Butcher of Song." Fan mail poured in from around the world, and many fans created their own versions such as "pimp daddy Jared" and "the Jared choir" which are displayed on the web site, where Jared t-shirts and a CD are also available. Freeverse has even begun licensing the character. Young & Rubicam, the ad agency for Blockbuster Video, licensed it for use in a television commercial which is currently airing heavily on U.S. stations. What does the real Jared think of all this? He was admittedly shy at first, but, said Colin, "Now that he has become a media celebrity, he's starting to enjoy it."
What's next for this irreverent, pixilated crooner? Freeverse has smartly retained all rights to the character. Asked if there is an animated TV series in its future, Colin replied, "We're not really in that business. We haven't South Park-ed Jared yet, but we're open..." Any offers? Contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
Wendy Jackson is associate editor of Animation World Magazine. She has been known to play Jared repeatedly on her computer.