03. May 2021

Two movie buffs and a hamster do advertising

Explainer videos are more than moving-image manuals

Never take things too seriously: Marina Izquierdo and Willi Haninger in hamster slippers. © WISTA Management GmbH

Size doesn’t matter according to Willi Haninger, CEO and creative producer at Angry Hamster UG. Haninger and his business partner Marina Izquierdo work with a team of ten freelancers. “Our strength is that we tend to be underestimated. Hamsters are small, cute, and untiring,” he says.

For six years Haninger was self-employed as a creative producer before meeting Izquierdo and founding a start-up with her in 2019. They both share a great passion for movies: “Cinematic storytelling is very important to us. Unlike influencers, for example, we don’t just focus on creating customer incentives but good cinema. Naturally, the performance also has to check out,” explains Haninger.

Just before starting the company, the Neukölln native produced his own feature film “8 Remains”, a mystery thriller. “It was great working with people who are primarily driven to create art,” says the 36-year-old. With his other projects, too, great emotions are a big part of what he does. His customers include the environmental NGO Bund für Umwelt und Naturschutz, the online conference re:publica, the Italian sports brand UYN, and Berlin’s public broadcaster RBB (together with the GUD agency).

One of his favourite projects was when his team had to put itself in the shoes of musicians for the image film of the music start-up “Soundbrenner”, talking about creative crises and a feeling of emptiness, like being left alone in the desert. Haninger discovered the real-life desert, a former military training area near Cottbus, completely by accident. “I live for these kinds of discoveries,” he swoons.

The native Berliner thinks highly of the science location Adlershof. “These are highly interesting companies. Much of what they do is new to us, but we really appreciate the exchanging ideas and making new contacts.” Back in March, it took him two days to find an office at Exordium through the networking organisation BNI. When a film has been shot, Exordium takes care of marketing the product. In early April, Haninger became the BNI director for the local companies in Adlershof.

An important field for communicating scientific content are explainer videos. ZEW, for example, a Mannheim-based Leibniz Centre for European economic research, promoted its research department “Market Design” this way, using a timely issue: the allocation of day-care spots. It is always important to keep the customers in mind and addressing them personally. “An explainer video alone doesn’t sell a product. As an entrepreneur, you change the lives of other people with everything you do. This is what you are selling,” says the creative producer.

Animation and images make a message more palatable for children and adults alike. Unfortunately, this hybrid form was often underrated. “There is a whole creative team behind these things. An illustrator, two, sometimes, three animation artists, and a creative copywriter. Some customers try to save money and then fall into the trap of wanting to do everything themselves,” says Haninger. His company’s core business, however, is the production of commercials and high-quality content for social media.

In teaching, however, the medium film is being treated in a stepmotherly fashion. A year ago, Haninger worked for an educational publisher that wanted to turn high-school textbooks into video content. “This is outdated. A film must strike the right balance between detailed information, visual appeal, and entertainment,” says Haninger, adding: “Visually, it is important to do things that are suprising.” The films have to compete with the screens that the children bring to school themselves. A pinch of humour also doesn’t go amiss.

By Susanne Gietl for Adlershof Journal