PICK OF THE WEEK: Flattr Plus (Animated Teaser)

Blake Harris 05.17.2016

Whenever you go online, internet ads are just a part of life. Right? Well, maybe not. At least if Flattr Plus has their way. Flattr Plus is a microdonation provider–a joint venture between Flattr and Adblock Plus–whose goal is to eliminate online ads by directly paying content creators instead. To help launch the product and spread the word about this bold endeavor, Flattr Plus created a smart, swift animated teaser that we’ve selected as our PICK OF THE WEEK.

This explainer video was made by Sebastián Baptista, a Uruguayan-born, Barcelona-based mixed media director. With years of experience on motion graphics, Baptista excels at creating sleek, upbeat and minimalistic animations through meticulous pacing and sequencing of story. Previous examples of this skill set can be seen in his work for Iron Mountain (below, left) and Hamburger Hummus (below, right):

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Before we dig deeper into Baptista’s work on the Flattr Plus explainer, we wanted to first take a closer look at the service that they’re offering. To elaborate on what’s mentioned above, Flattr Plus’ objective is to let users directly and sustainably fund content they love without reliance on ads, paywalls or paying for single articles. This sounds great, in theory, but can it actually work? Flattr Plus believes it can and their plan to make it happen can be boiled down to three steps:

  • Allocation: After installing Flattr Plus, the user sets a budget for ad-free, web content.
  • Engagement: As you surf the web, the add-on takes note of the content you engage with and then, through a proprietary algorithm, Flattr Plus distributes your allocation in the right amounts to the right sites.
  • Payment: The journalists, artists, bloggers, etc who are creating that content receive payment for their work directly.

Since Baptista’s video is an animated teaser, it doesn’t really get into the process of how it all works. But it does a great job of introducing the service with splashes of intrigue and idealism. Here’s the teaser:

[vimeo video_id=”166019475″ width=”400″ height=”300″ title=”Yes” byline=”Yes” portrait=”Yes” autoplay=”No” loop=”No” color=”00adef”]

3 Things We Loved About This Animated Teaser:

1. The Balance of Grace and Gumption: We spend so much time talking about how to hook viewers, that it can sometimes be easy to forgot about the importance of retention (and what the viewer experiences while retained). Baptista’s video, wisely, accepts its function as a teaser and doesn’t aggressively try to hit a grand slam with its first swing. Instead, with measure and class, it focuses instead on luring viewers with intrigue and a graceful sense of simplicity. A grace that, we should mention, stems from the

Much of that grace comes from the quality and precision of Baptista’s animation, but credit is also due to the way the animated video is structured. As alluded to with the baseball analogy above, this teaser doesn’t swing for the fences. And we mean that in the best way possible. Because opting for a slow-burn (versus the quick and in-your-face tactics of traditional advertising) takes gumption. And that risk pays off in spades because, let’s face it, there’s an irony to this whole video:

It’s an advertisement to promote freedom from advertisements!

To deliver that message without sounding hypocritical requires walking a very fine line. And what enables the Flattr Plus video to successfully make it to the other side is a balance between grace and gumption. This dichotomy blends into poetry and sincerity, so that the animated video seems empowering without ever feeling intrusive.

Despite being only 75 seconds long, the video is full of examples that showcase this balance. And it all begins with the opening. Which starts, simply, without voiceover and just the formation of seven circles and a line of text (“We all know that guy”)

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Although so little information is provided, this opening still manages to hold our attention because of how the shapes and colors are calibrated (grace) and the empathetic presumption of that text (gumption).  We all know that guy? What guy? Okay, well those shapes are pleasing and this opening is unusual enough to pique my interest, I guess I’ll stick around to find out a little more of what this is all about.

2. The Metaphor: It’s not uncommon for an animated explainer video to open with a metaphor to help relay a message. But this teaser goes even further than that. For all intents and purposes, the metaphor is the message in this video.

The first 36 seconds of this video are entirely about “that guy.”

The one who’s a bit annoying but always around…

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He’s not necessarily evil but no one likes him…

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And when you grow up, you realize that you don’t need to be around any more…

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Literally, the entire first half of this teaser is about “that guy.” Not once is there a mention about advertisements, the Internet or even Flattr Plus. And yet, amazingly, it works!  How come?

Two reasons: 

  • 1. Although this video might look and feel like an explainer, it really is a different beast. It’s a teaser. And by embracing this role–and eschewing the responsibility of explaining nuance–the video is bestowed with a different kind of versatility.
  • 2. When we talk about using metaphors in explainer videos, we’re almost always actually talking about similes. We’re saying that this process or that product is like this or acts as that. In this instance, however, Flattr Plus is making a much more conclusive equivalent. And that works really well here because…

3. It’s Hard to Watch the Second Half of this Video Without Nodding Along: Because there’s a moment at the beginning of the second half, where everything clicks into place. Here:

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What’s special about this moment is that not only does the metaphor land (with grace!) but it also empowers the viewer. Because that text (“he’s not necessarily evil”) clues the viewer into everything that’s headed next and, at the same time, makes the viewer feel like they figured it out on their own. It’s a wonderful moment of excitement and activation, and one that’s undeniably earned by Flattr Plus by virtue of their grace, gumption and metaphor selection.

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