Idea Blog

PICK OF THE WEEK: Mrs. Meyer’s Home Maker (animated video)

Blake Harris 03.31.2016

Even if you love what you do and have a talent for that craft, it can be hard to figure out how to monetize your skill and your passion. This was a challenge faced by an Iowa homemaker named Thelma A. Meyer, who wanted to create a cleaning product that not only worked great, but smelled great as well. The result of her inspiration was a successful line of Mrs. Meyer’s Clean Day products. Now, to give back, the company is looking to help other DIYers replicate that kind of success. And to woo submissions for the “First-Ever Mrs. Meyer’s Home Maker,” they created an engaging, inspiring animated video that we’ve selected as our PICK OF THE WEEK. 

The story depicted, told without voice-over, follows a woman who makes decoupage bowls, and ends up winning enough money to open her own business. This animated video was created by Optimus Design, a Chicago-based collective of directors, animators, artists and designers. Some of their recent work (pictured below) includes a catchy spot for American Girl and a hip tribute to 16-bit era gaming:

American Girl16 bit

Below we’ll highlight some of the things that we loved about The Hunt for the First-Ever Mrs. Meyer’s Home Maker animated video, but before diving in we wanted to say a few more things about the original inspiration herself: Thelma A. Meyer. Inspiration, as we all know, can come from the most unexpected places. And in the case of Mrs. Meyer, it all began with her daughter walking down the cleaning aisle in a store and noticing that all the products had “harsh, stinky chemicals.” From there, a solution was sought and, eventually, a company was born.

Looking to empower others, this contest was created. And here’s our PICK OF THE WEEK, the animated video detailing the contest:

3 Things We Loved About This Animated Video:

1. The Sidekick (and its impact on tone): The story depicted during first two-thirds of this animated video would appear to be  pretty somber. A woman toils in isolation and her creative passion goes. Except, in fact, it’s not very downtrodden at all, and a lot of that has to do with the fact that she’s not really toiling in isolation. That’s because, from the opening scene until the very end, our hero has a sidekick. This guy…

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At first glance, the cat may seem like no more than a cute throwaway detail, but he really plays a vital role in the emotional weight of this story.

He keeps our hero company…

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Shares in her frustration…

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And, eventually, is beside our hero for her moment of triumph…

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For a character who takes up such a small portion of the frame and, throughout the story, does little more than react, he really makes a huge impact. Serving as a reminder that, when done right, side characters and environmental details can really influence the way we feel about a story and the tone of its imparted message.

2. Integration of Real-life Product Imagery: One of the quickest ways to pull viewers out of an animated story is by introducing photographic images. It just feels too foreign, aesthetically clunky and like something thrown in by the marketing department. This is the norm, but not always the case. There are, of course, exceptions to the rule, and The Hunt for the First-Ever Mrs. Meyer’s Home Maker is one of those exceptions.

A photo image from one of the real-life Mrs. Meyer’s products appears twice in this video and doesn’t feel disruptive in either case:

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So…why does it work?

A few reasons come to mind. One, both instances occur early in the video; the tone is still being set and it doesn’t feel like a jarring, just-dropped-in solution. Another reason, probably the most important, is that the product’s color scheme perfectly matches the motif of the video. And lastly, another part of this successful execution, is the animators commitment to subtlety. The cleaning product is never the focal point of a frame, which helps build it into the ambience.

3. Sells the Excitement of Winning: The actual prize of this contest is a $75,000 payday, but the video wisely sells more than just that dollar figure. The Hunt for the First-Ever Mrs. Meyer’s Home Maker sells the beautiful feeling of autonomy and satisfaction that comes from taking your idea to a whole other level. It’s not just about the money, but pulling out to focus on the large picture: you, happy, doing what you love to do best.

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Blake Harris

Blake Harris

Blake Harris is the author of "Console Wars: Sega, Nintendo, and the Battle that Defined a Generation."
Blake Harris

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