Behind the Work in association withThe Immortal Awards

Cross Your (Wonder) Fingers: How Heckler Singapore Went Hands-On with Grab

Post Production
Singapore, Singapore
LBB’s Tom Loudon catches up with MD and executive producer, Charu Menon, to unravel the ‘Wonder Fingers’ narrative
The recently launched ‘Wonder Fingers’ campaign from Grab brings to life a trio of captivating finger characters, showcasing how a mere tap of the digits can empower eco-friendly choices.

Charu Menon, the managing director and executive producer at Heckler Singapore, knows first-hand that bringing a spot like this to life is no easy feat.

Charu delves into the campaign's inception, illustrating the inspirational fusion of eco-friendly messaging with animated finger characters. Revealing the meticulous creative process, she discusses transforming mere digits into expressive personas and visualising the impact of screen taps on real-world environmental effects.

LBB> What inspired using animated finger characters as the protagonists for Grab’s ‘Wonder Fingers’ campaign, and how did this idea align with the campaign’s focus on eco-friendly choices?

Charu> The objective was to showcase Grab as a sustainable brand. Grab users are empowered to make eco-friendly lifestyle decisions every day through a mere tap of their fingers, such as reducing disposable cutlery and/or using Grab Share for commutes, among other things. This initiative aimed to raise awareness among consumers about the significant impact they were making with their choices just by tapping for good! e digital report.

LBB> Could you describe the creative process behind transforming the finger characters from mere digits into relatable, expressive beings that communicate emotions and actions effectively?

Charu> We wanted the fingers to have personalities and represent diverse people, so we gave them different and exciting identities. Their expressive eyes, eyelashes, and friction ridges that make up the fingerprints were all designed in a unique way so we could use them to emote. We also used sound design, the characters speak using sighs and approving sounds to make their point.

LBB> The campaign emphasises the impact of simple taps on screens through Grab. How did you visually represent these digital actions to highlight their real-world environmental effects?

Charu> We liked the idea of building a miniature Grab-Verse or a city where our Wonder Fingers live. And as we move through the story, we can fly between different parts of this world in a fun way. We put each environment in its own space but part of the same world so we could move between them freely. When we switch from one room to another, we can see little glimpses of what is happening in other parts of the world before we zoom into our next scene. This gives the films a whimsical feeling but in a classy, grown-up way.

LBB> Creating a miniature world from paper and cardboard is a unique visual approach. What challenges did you encounter while designing this setting, and how did you ensure it aligned with the campaign’s overall message?

Charu> We wanted the textures to feel super organic and earthy to keep with the tone of the overall message. So, creating paper worlds felt stylistically right. We spent some time during the initial visual development stage trying to visualise what a game of Candy Crush or the interface of a dating app would look like when it’s translated into a paper world. We landed on building a miniature world that feels handmade. That was the idea. A small world where a finger can feel like a whole person.

LBB> Incorporating playful eyes and expressions into the finger characters adds a human-like quality. How did you balance realism and animated whimsy while developing these characters?

Charu> We knew we wanted the fingers to look realistic. We thought it would be more fun and silly if they felt like actual fingers. We debated if we should possibly take the whole face of a real person and put it onto our fingers. Or possibly just take the eyes and mouth. The original inspiration was the legendary film Thumb Wars. We landed in a good mix where the fingers are real, but their features are exaggerated and humorous. We also lit them in a way that they were always the hero of their story.

LBB> Designing finger characters involves imagining them in attire and scenarios that reflect human actions. Could you share insights into the creative process of dressing up these finger characters to represent eco-friendly actions?

Charu> Dressing them up was a challenge as we had to re-imagine the finger as a full human body – so we knew where the cut of a tank top would end and where the hem of a skirt would begin. This is harder than you’d think!

LBB> What aspects of Maya and Cinema4D were instrumental in bringing the animated world of ‘Wonder Fingers’ to life, especially in creating the playful, environmentally conscious narrative?

Charu> Because the characters are fingers, we wanted to build the world in a way that felt like a miniature set that finger puppets could live in. To give it realism and humour, we made it all look like it was made of paper and cardboard and even put flying elements on popsicle sticks held together with sticky tape. All this detail made it feel halfway between a fun animated film and a silly puppet show. We used Maya to create the characters, and texture and rig them and then C4D for the environments and animation.

LBB> Were there specific cultural or regional considerations in the character design or the campaign’s setting to resonate better with the Southeast Asian audience?

Charu> We made sure that we had wonder fingers representing different ethnicities across Asia, but beyond that, we just wanted to make stories relatable at a human level across borders.

LBB> Beyond the campaign’s current achievements, what future steps or strategies do you envision for the ‘Wonder Fingers’ campaign to engage audiences further and drive more significant eco-friendly actions?

Charu> The Digital Experience part of the campaign, where users can access their own individual Grab Reports on their apps to learn about the difference they’ve made, is a great way to engage consumers. We hope the Wonder Fingers campaign will encourage users to tap for good!

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