Mary Anderson. Alessandro Volta. Marie Van Brittan Brown.
They’re not exactly household names, but we use stuff created by these and other overlooked inventors almost every day.
Hey, let’s celebrate them in song! And with cute animation!
Anderson, Volta and Brown — developers of the windshield wiper, electric battery and home-security system, respectively — rank among the relative unknowns immortalized by Ogilvy in this tuneful cartoon commissioned by chemical company Chemours for National Inventors Month:
Sure, Edison is way more famous than László Bíró (who invented the ballpoint pen), Nancy Johnson (ice cream freezing machine) or Billy Cullen (refrigeration).
But the ode to obscure innovators is a memorably inventive musical history lesson. (And Thomas Alva’s decades-old commemorative song sounds kind of scratchy these days.)
“It mainly started with us thinking, ‘Why don’t we know the names of the people who created things we actually use? Why do we know the Teslas and the Wrights, but have no idea who created the windshield wiper?” Ogilvy senior copywriter Zach Buckner tells Adweek.
“Our goal for the video was to educate the novice and delight the expert,” he says. “A clear inspiration for the piece was Schoolhouse Rock. With their educational spirit and tone, we figured that sensibility would work really well.”
As for the Chemours brand tie-in, “when they spun-off from DuPont, no one believed in the company,” Buckner says. “And now, a few years later, they’re in their second straight year of being named a Fortune 500 company. So playing into that underdog story worked really well.”
Working with animator Luiz Stockler, the team aimed for a whimsical style with “a hint of naiveté,” says agency senior art director Hayley Grassetti.
Chemours has been sharing the two-minute video, along with GIFs that focus on individual inventors and their inventions, across its social channels.
How’d they pick these particular subjects?
“We started with a list of the inventions we use every day but had absolutely no idea who created them: the paper bag, the ballpoint pen, the ice-cream maker,” says Grassetti. “Willis Carrier who created air conditioning is a favorite, because who doesn’t love air conditioning?”
Alas, to keep the song from getting too out of hand, some deserving innovators gut cut, including the dude who thought up the doorknob, Buckner says.
Better luck next time, Osbourn Dorsey!
AN ODE TO THE OVERLOOKED
Words by Zach Buckner and Karl Westman
Music by Adam Brock , who also handled vocals
This is a song about the overlooked.
The ones who didn’t make the history books.
You might not know their names, but they’re genius just the same.
The inventors of things we love and use each day
Here’s to Mary Anderson; our roads are safer. Our days are brighter with your windshield wiper.
Sir Alessandro Volta, accept our flattery. We’d have no flashlight in the dark without your battery.
Three cheers for Marie Van Brittan Brown. Your watchful eye is the bane of every bad guy in town.
A big thank-you to Laìszloì Biìroì. Every love letter written with your pen for someone’s beau.
Sweet Nancy Johnson. Our favorite flavor wouldn’t exist without your delicious ice-cream maker.
Hooray for Dr. Billy Cullen; you’ve got our admiration. You keep our veggies fresh with your refrigeration.
Let’s not forget Margaret Knight; it’s not like her to brag. She made a place for everything inside her paper bag.
For Willy Carrier, we throw confetti. Your air conditioning makes summer months less sweaty.
Back in year 104, Cai Lun sent a note to shore. And now much later, let’s thank him for making paper.
Agency: Ogilvy, New York
Mike Hahn: Executive Creative Director
Tom Greenwood: Associate Creative Director
Hayley Grassetti: Senior Art Director
Zach Buckner: Senior Copywriter
Karl Westman: Director of Music
Lauren Ziffer: Senior Producer
Oliver Horvat: Associate Producer
Amanda Kresge: Production Coordinator
Rasika Narang: Managing Director
U-Lynn Lee: Senior Account Manager
Nur Yusuf: Project Manager
Luiz Stockler: Illustrator/Animation
Music House: Walker