Idea Blog

PICK OF THE WEEK: The Lexus…Hoverboard?! (an explainer)

Blake Harris 08.06.2015

Earlier this week, Lexus released a video to introduce their groundbreaking hoverboard. Given the wonder and grace of seeing this product in action–not to mention the hoverboard’s decades-long near-mythical status following its appearance in Back to the Future 2–the video garnered incredible coverage:

There’s no doubt about it, the hoverboard is intriguing. But what we really found fascinating is this: a couple of days after introducing this innovative product, Lexus decided to capitalize on the fanfare by releasing a 5-minute explainer video that describes how the magic was made. We liked this not only for how impressively it was done, but also because its release signifies that we’re currently in an era where audiences no longer just have an appetite for magic, but also a thirst to learn about how that magic was made. Here’s the video:


1. Great Use of Metaphor: Early in the video, to help explain the importance of what these engineers are trying to achieve, they compare the feat of crafting a hoverboard to flying or riding on a magic carpet. Not only are the metaphors themselves apt, but the video cleverly uses archival footage from yesteryear to infuse the notion with an aged sense of wonder.

The Dream of Flying

2. Text Narration: Early in the video, the voice-over tells us the following: “It isn’t a straight forward process. We’ve had quite a few ups and downs. Because it’s normal when you are trying to do something truly innovative.” This, perhaps, is the most important truth of the video; that doing important things is complicated. And while this is indeed what makes the story a good fit for an explainer, it’s also where the story might risk losing the attention of its viewers. But, to the video’s credit, it embraces the not-so-straight process and doesn’t sugarcoat the making of this hoverboard. And one of the way that it’s able to accomplish this is through relatively subtle (yet clear and influential) text narration on-screen. Like this:

Poetry Barcelona Final Testing Design Elements Search for Hoverboard Rider Begins Magnetic Field Day 26

3. Poetry (or not forcing explanation for that which cannot fully be explained): Towards the end of the video, the skaterboarder-turned-hoverboarder says, “the feeling of no friction…it’s hard to describe what it really feels like. Its kind of like a science in itself.” By doing so, and because we are nearing the climax of this explainer, he’s essentially saying that the payoff for all this work, vision and calculation is something poetic that transcends all that. And not only is that true, but it’s paired with the right images (like the one below) to fully create that sensation.

You Have to have Dreams

And taking this notion to its conclusion, the engineer concludes his explanation by saying that, “you have to have dreams. Maybe they will not come true. But it’s the direction you work.”

The Impossible

Once again, another poetic ethereal statement that works because of the aesthetics on screen and, ultimately, because of the effectiveness of the video as a whole.





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