A recent story about Fridgeezoo on Tasteologie features an adorable ThinkGeek video of a little milk carton shaped creature from Japan explaining the importance of keeping the refrigerator door shut, something Americans apparently forget to do to the tune of $1.7 billion in wasted annual electricity costs.
Videos like that one are created to help sell ThinkGeek’s “stuff for smart masses” and have been making fans smile and order nerdy knickknacks for more than four years. From pranks to office tours, ThinkGeek videos teach viewers about not only ThinkGeek products, but also the quirky world of the company itself (probably prompting more than a few to check ThinkGeek’s job listings to join in on the fun).
We caught up with John Frazier, ThinkGeek’s Director of Video Marketing, to talk about the gloriously geeky world of ThinkGeek.
Tubefilter: How long have you been making videos that feature ThinkGeek products?
John Frazier: We started making videos around 2007 – they were short little things, designed to demonstrate some of the products that were tougher to get the point across. Our first video was for a long plastic ribbon that had grooves in it, much like a record player. Pulling on the ribbon with your thumbnail dragging across the grooves generated a voice that said, “I love you.” It was really cool but hard to explain properly in just photos and text.
TF: How important is the ThinkGeek video connection?
JF: We found that our customers really liked that new dimension of interaction. We had always been this kind-of skunk works of geek-chic. With that veil slowly being lifted, people wanted more. They wanted to meet the monkeys in charge of the asylum and be a part of it.
Video is obviously a fantastic way to engage our customers, generate viral buzz, and celebrate geek culture. Too many people hide what makes them geeky, and we think that’s totally wrong. It needs to be brought out into the open and held up for all to see. They need to shout “I think this Star Trek Bathrobe is cool,” so that others can join in and grow the community. About six months ago, we added a new videographer, Zack Trolier, to the department, and he’s been instrumental in helping us do that.
TF: From the videos it looks like working at ThinkGeek is all fun and games. Is your work environment as big of a party as it looks in all of the prank videos and the new shark tour of the office?
JF: Haha! You might be surprised to know just how much work is involved in our operations. Everybody here takes their work very seriously. There’s a certain passion that comes with what we do, and that translates to a lot of heads-down srs bznz. Granted, we decorate our workspaces with art and posters and action figures… I’d be lying if I said we didn’t have fun at work!
TF: How do you choose which products will star in the ThinkGeek videos? Take us through the video planning process.
JF: We look at every product that’s scheduled to launch. If it’s better explained in motion, we do a video. If it helps us celebrate geek culture, we do a video. If, however, we just come up with a really cool concept for a video, we’ll do a video.
Once we have a long list of potential videos, Zack and I kick around our ideas. We come up with rough drafts of scripts, sometimes storyboards. If we’re really stumped, we’ll fill a conference room with in-house geeks, fill them with sugar and caffeine, and let the creativity issue forth like a Brundlefly eats a donut.
Then we divvy up the work – Zack shoots this one, I’ll shoot that one. We both edit, score, title, and push the videos up to YouTube, and link the videos up to the products on the site.
TF: In regards to your Fridgeezoo how much energy do you think was wasted during the making of that video about a product designed to help people keep their refrigerators closed to save energy?
JF: We’re happy to take the hit so that others may learn from our example. If, however, you need precise numbers – that video took about 20 minutes to shoot. If the average American refrigerator loses up to 120kWh of energy every year due to open doors, and electricity costs $0.1099 per kWh, that amounts to 1.2 cents worth of power during the shoot.
Still, that sorta thing is cumulative. If everybody had a Fridgezoo that gently reminded them to “shut the fridgin’ door,” that’d be a huge savings.
TF: What new ThinkGeek products will be featured in upcoming videos?
JF: We’ve got some Doctor Who toys lined up. Something cool for Batman fans. A sweet piece of interactive electronic jewelry…new requests come in every week. It can be hard to keep up.
TF: One more thing. The purple kitten T-shirts worn in the Boombox Speaker Cushion video are awesome. Where can we get one?
JF: Google is your friend. He’d tell you to have a look at Amazon for “10 Kittens T-shirt,” but beware. Therein lies burning awesome.
Get your own other objects of burning awesome at ThinkGeek.com today.