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Punchy Advice

Video Production

Leo Brodie Music

Creative Suggestions for Selling your Message

Sell your video's message with powerful puppet characters.

  • Showing is always more effective than telling.
  • Seeing is believing.
  • Decisions are based mostly on emotions.

Not every corporate video can benefit from using puppets. However, many videos are designed to inform by example, deal with attitudes and personal issues, or to illustrate abstract concepts. Exactly what our puppets excel at.

Puppets work in corporate videos because they show, rather than tell. They deal with emotions. They focus on the message.

Puppets have been used successfully in corporate videos for many reasons:

  • Puppets reflect positive, universal qualities.
  • They can act in ways that would not be believable or acceptable from actors.
  • They hold people's attention. They are endearing, and thus more appealing.
  • They are easy to identify with. They are non-threatening.
  • They are visually interesting. They create memorable images.

Puppets are most effective when the character is involved in a believable conflict that centers around the objective. You get your point across.

Here are ways that our clients have used puppets to "live the message."

Using Negative Examples

Alphonzo, the car dealer, thinks he knows good sales promotion techniques

Teaching by way of negative example is superbly handled by puppets because they can exaggerate. The puppet can say things that might seem offensive if spoken by a person. A hostile or obnoxious puppet can more easily be made wrong, or be made to change his or her mind.

In the "wrong-way vs. right-way" scenario, for example, a sloppy, indifferent delivery person (played by a puppet) angers customers and ignores their complaints. This is followed by the positive scenario, in which a pleasant, efficient (human) delivery person satisfies the customer.

In the "opposing viewpoint" scenario, two workers might be discussing a new system. One grouses and refuses to cooperate. The other has tried it, with good results. Cast a puppet as the complainer, and a human as the visionary.

Using Exaggerated Images

By their nature, puppets create memorable images. To make the point that carelessness leads to accidents, a puppet can be very careless (and have very bad accidents!). This exaggeration would be awkward if performed by a human.

Photo of Alphonzo at the  Computer Or in a sales video, to show that competitive computers are not "user-friendly," a distraught puppet can battle a very intimidating "Brand-X" system. Because puppets are simplified and emphasize particular character traits, they can act much more extremely that human actors can.

Painting the Need

It's often important to begin a training film by reminding viewers why they need to learn. A puppet can dramatize this need in a humorous way, without offending. For example, a character causes a $10,000 mistake because she didn't know a correct procedure. The character is now highly motivated to learn, and so will be the audience by empathy.

Representing the Audience in Training Films

Puppets reflect positive, universal qualities. Perhaps this is why viewers can so readily identify with them. Whatever the reason, many successful informational videos use puppets to represent the audience.

In a training film, use a puppet to represent the student. The puppet can ask the "stupid" questions that real people are afraid to ask.

By using two characters, a conflict can be created between them that can be resolved only by applying the material. Both characters are involved and care about the outcome.

Overcoming Resistances and Solving Conflicts

Bradley and Punjabi butt heads before learning conflict-resolution skills

Many corporate videos are designed to introduce a new policy or system to employees. When resistance to the new order is expected, a well-planned video can smooth the transition. The key is to acknowledge the audience's concerns. But it is often awkward for management to come right out and say what's on the employee's minds.

You might use a sympathetic character - played by a puppet - who must struggle with the issues felt by the audience. The viewers will identify with the puppet, and learn with relief that their company understands their difficulties. As a result, they become more favorably inclined to hear the proposed solution. After seeing themselves portrayed, members of the audience instantly reconsider their positions. They participate more in the discussions and change their behavior following the presentation.

Live Animation Plus People

Our puppets interact very well with humans. A relationship can develop between the human and the puppet that is charming and entertaining, even as it communicates the important information.

Alphonzo interviews an executive of Southwest Gas

In many of our shows, the human "teachers" have not been professional talent, but rather employees who are expert on the subject. According to Debbie Koestel, producer of a series of videos for Unisys for which we provided two puppet characters, the employees were more relaxed playing opposite the puppets than they would have been talking to human professional talent, or talking directly to the camera.

Wally Kolberg, one of the experts at Southwest Gas interviewed by Alphonzo, concurs: "It wasn't hard talking to the puppet. What you need to do is accept the puppet as a personality. Then it's easy to get into the swing of things, and it flows. I found it an enjoyable experience."

The approaches above are just some of the ways in which puppets are used in information videos. Perhaps your next show can benefit from InfoPuppetry.