Explainer Video

This Explainer Will Change Your Phone

Shawn 03.03.2014

Dave Hakkens is changing the world.

With video.

His innovative designs – like his industrial design project “Precious Plastics,” which recycles common plastic containers into useful items on a small scale – and his ground-breaking modular phone design – Phonebloks – are changing the way consumers look at products.

He’s received numerous awards (“Designers to Watch,” Eindhoven’s Social Design, Design Museum’s “Design of the Year 2014″), but as inspiring as Dave’s ideas are, he knows that awards and acclaim won’t make ideas into reality:

Video makes the world go round.

On September 10th, 2013, Dave Hakkens used his animated explainer video skills to explain his new concept for an infinitely upgradeable modular phone, called “Phonebloks.”

Within 24 hours, the video had received over 1 million views.

What’s more, he included a CTA in the video asking viewers to spread the idea of a modular phone if they wanted it to become a reality.

People did.

By October 29th, 2013, Phonebloks had reached:

phonebloks reach

“Ok, that’s awesome,” you say. “Explainer video is powerful, but my product isn’t as exciting as a modular phone. Explainer video wouldn’t work for me.”

First of all, repeat that sentence out loud. Shame on you. Your product better be exciting enough to change the world (at least nudge it a little) or why are you even making it?

Second, explainer video – especially video with a clear, targeted CTA – are perfect to launch nearly any product. We don’t call ourselves “IdeaRocket” for nothing.

Explainer video details the value of a product and makes it more accessible, but in addition to all the bells and whistles, and reach that explainer video has, it’s greatest strength is something that traditional advertising and branding don’t have.

Explainer video gives ownership.

When viewers understand how Phonebloks works, they see its value. They don’t need hip teens at a rave swapping Lego pieces to convince them that this product is revolutionary. They simply need to see how it works. Dave showed them. Now millions of people want one.

When you give consumers a grasp of how something works – especially something complicated – they make it their own. They go from wondering how it works to how it will work for them.

What’s even more amazing is that they’re already converted and racing down the sales funnel, and Phoneblok phones don’t even exist yet.

Modular phones were just a concept…until explainer video.

Cut to today.

The explainer video for Phonebloks was so successful that Motorola’s R&D group ATAP (Advanced Technology and Projects) entered into a partnership with Dave and his team – named “Project Ara.” In just a matter of months, they’re turning this video into a reality.

Motorola’s been developing modular phone tech since late 2011, but economists and analysts argued that the technology wasn’t production friendly – it’s expensive to mass-produce small numbers of modular pieces, and they thought it wouldn’t have an interested market.

Dave’s explainer video changed all that.

Google recently acquired ATAP (the only part of Motorola to survive its sale to Chinese owned Lenovo in January), and Time reports that Google may have a modular phone available as early next year for $50.

Take that, naysayers.

Millions of consumers are clambering for a modular phone, and thousands of designers – including renowned 3D printing innovators 3D Systems (DDD) – are working to make modular phone production a reality, all because of the demand created by a single explainer video.

The takeaway is that ground-breaking ideas have a merit all their own, but the use of a well-made, focused explainer video, with a clear CTA, can give viewers ownership of the product to take it to levels the creators never dreamed of.

When people get invested, magical things happen. Sometimes before a product even exists.


Born in Southern California, Shawn grew up surfing, eating In-N-Out, and growing his hair long. After graduating with a Liberal Arts degree from CSU Long Beach in 2005 he left the crowded freeways behind and spent the better part of a decade traveling the world living for stretches in Rome, Hawaii, Australia, New Zealand, and Brooklyn. He writes novels as well as copy, loves learning keyboard shortcuts, and plays his grandpa’s old lap steel guitar. You can hear his band at ponieswillbiteyou.com

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