May 14, 2010

MailChimp’s Freddie Comes To Life

It was pretty shocking yesterday morning when a life sized chimp mascot showed up at the office. Little did we know that Chief Customer Officer Dan had secretly been working with Maydwell Mascots for about two months to make it happen!

Bear with me for a sec for a quick jaunt down memory lane. The first iteration of the MailChimp logo was quickly thrown together by Ben in 2001 using Fireworks. Over the years, each revision of the logo made it slightly less clumsy, but it still wasn’t quite right. So in late 2007 we got in touch with Jon Hicks (who designed the Firefox logo and most recently worked on the user interface design for Opera Mini 5), and he was really busy at the time. But good things come to those who wait, and by August of 2008 we had a shiny, new Freddie complete with a body and everything! (If you’re interested in reading more, check out Ben’s original post here.)

OK, back to the life sized chimp suit.

The first order of business was working with Maydwell Mascots to get the technical renderings together.

When he saw this drawing, Dan’s first thought was, "What the heck? This suit is gonna suck!" They assured him they knew what they were doing, and all faith was restored when Dan received the first production pictures of the head.

Ah yes, now we’re talkin’! With the head approved, the fur was then selected and applied.

Things were starting to look kinda cool and just a wee bit creepy at this point, but Dan was liking it. Up next was the body.

Hmm, but it seems like something is missing…

Ah, much better! With the proper chimp butt in place, he’s alive! And aside from being just plain awesome, this suit is amazingly hi-tech.

The chimp feet actually have Vibram rubber soles, making the Freddie suit a complete all-terrain vehicle.

Since you’re likely to get hot in there, Freddie’s head includes a built-in battery powered fan that sits inside of his hat and vents through a hole in the top. You turn it on with a tiny switch just inside his left ear.

http://www.flickr.com/photos/freddievonchimp/sets/72157623930550249/

Last but not least, every chimp needs to be able to use their iPhone or iPad when wearing the Freddie suit (especially for say, an iPhone app promo video), so we had these chimp hands customized with a special slit for your index finger to fit through. Our video guy Josh is really happy about this one.

http://www.flickr.com/photos/freddievonchimp/sets/72157623930550249/

Oh, and speaking of video, check out how some unsuspecting MailChimp employees react to Freddie when he unexpectedly comes alive in MailChimp Freddie Big Hidden Camera Crazy Time!