Blocky the Puppet Explains Blockchain in a Way Even Blockheads Can Understand

Cute approach from Figure, a fin-tech startup

WTF is blockchain, anyway?

Blocky the puppet explains it all for you in this amusing campaign from Figure, a financial services startup that uses the distributed data storage technology across home-equity credit lines, mortgages and student loan applications.

Voiced by actor Jason Bryden, Blocky is basically blockchain personified. (Though physically he's more like a collection of blocks and chain-links with limbs, a mouth and eyes. Like a chatty keychain!)

Still, he's kind of cute, a tad irreverent—and the little dude really knows his stuff.

Created by ad shop Undnyable and Nimble Content director Brad Hasse, Blocky shows up in some surprising places, even the kitchen cupboard:

Figure | Ramen

Yeah, that bro's shirt got ruined, but he can buy a lot more with all the money he'll save from his blockchain-powered student-loan refinancing.

And why wait months for approval on your mortgage refinancing, when Blockchain can speed up the process, right Blocky?

Figure | Waiting

For those who just can't get enough, here's Blocky's opus, a two-and-a-half-minute primer:

Figure | Meet Blockchain

You know, Blocky and Carol's kids would be chips off the old blockchain. Heh. Below, we hear more about the campaign from various folks who worked on it.

Where the idea came from.

"When we left our initial briefing with Figure, the three of us [on the agency team] each gave our take on how we thought blockchain worked, and we quickly found out that we were all a little bit right, and a lot wrong," Undnyable co-founder and creative chief Justin Hooper tells Muse. "That confusion made us realize that we needed to find some way to explain blockchain that was super easy to understand. My daughter and I had been binge-watching StoryBots on Netflix, so the idea of using a puppet came up."

Why they took a cutesy creative approach.

"We saw an opportunity to own the demystification by creating a relatable and helpful character who can bridge the knowledge gap and break down the benefits in easily digestible terms," says Figure CMO Brad Simmons.

How the team went about creating the character.

"We discussed using CGI, but it felt a little too slick and impersonal, especially given Blocky's goal to make a tech platform more approachable," Hooper says. "I did a quick sketch on a hotel napkin—at that time, he looked a little more like a caterpillar lying flat on the ground. Brad, Figure's CMO, suggested making Blocky stand up, and shared a sketch of his own. From there, we built a hybrid of the two and reached out to our friends at Viva La Puppet to bring Blocky to life."

What went down at the shoots.

"All of Blocky's actions were captured in camera," says agency executive creative director Mark Maziarz. "His eyebrows and mouth [and other moving parts] were operated on set by the Viva La Puppet team. However, [in post] we did decide to remove the rods. There was something charming about them. I actually kind of miss them."

"In order to keep everyone on their toes, we had Jason, Blocky's V.O., on set, reading and riffing lines as we went along," Hooper says. "The introduction scene in the longer-form video with Blocky on his cellphone was ad libbed by Jason and the puppeteers."

"Our bank location was actually a working train and bus depot in Vancouver," recalls Melissa Hooper, agency co-founder and executive producer. "About every hour and a half, we'd have a group of tourists and other travelers all gathered behind the monitors watching Blocky come to life. I'm pretty sure they thought we were making a kids' TV show."

The :30s will air during NHL and NASCAR telecasts, along with a paid digital buy on Hulu. The longer film will live on figure.com/blockchain, and appear at conferences and other events.

Blocky's social channels are in development—who could mute that wacky blockhead?—with radio, out-of-home, print and a plush doll in the works.

CREDITS

Client: Figure
Chief Executive Officer: Mike Cagney
Chief Marketing Officer: Brad Simmons
Director of Integrated Marketing: Katharine Wallace
Head of Design: Ricky Navarro
Associate Creative Director: Harry Yu

Agency: Undnyable
Chief Creative Officer/Founder: Justin Hooper
Executive Producer: Melissa Hooper
Executive Creative Director: Mark Maziarz
Production Consultant: Colleen Miller

Production Company: Nimble Content
Executive Producer: Michael Corbiere
Director: Brad Hasse
Director of Photography: Phil Lanyon
Line Producer: Andre Fitsialos
Puppet Build: Viva La Puppet
Puppetry: Michele Zamora & Mat Farias

Editorial: Lucky Day, Portland
Executive Producers: Chris Vanderloo, Edward Gouttierre
Editor: Corky Devault
Asst Editor: Ivana Bosek
VFX: Adam Gill, Nathaniel Akin
Telecine/Grading: George Costakis, Pinata

Audio Mix & Sound Design: Digital One
Mixer/Sound Design: Chip Sloan

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David Gianatasio
David Gianatasio is senior editor at Clio Awards.

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