Author: Priyanka Kanse, Strategist, BBH London
If you are under 11 you might be aware that Fruit Shoot launched something very cool last week. If you’re not, here is the story of Champion of the Playground:
The work we’ve been doing with skills for the last couple of years meant that the Fruit Shoot brand was in good health, but this wasn’t transferring to success at the checkout: our core target audience (8-10 year olds) were turned off by the younger kids coming into the brand and didn’t want to be seen drinking the product.
Our solution wasn’t a big ad campaign, but a branded gaming platform which merges the virtual world with the real world and recognises the importance of competition and challenge for 8-11 year olds.
One of the very first pieces of paper that the creative team wrote were the principles of Champion of the Playground (below). It’s really nice to sit down at the end of phase 1 and think that the site is still true those original principles.
What we’ve learnt
Much of the commentary about participation platforms seems like common sense, but how the hell do I implement it? We’re learning all the time and there is so much we could say about this project, but these are some of our most interesting findings:
Measure every decision you make against what your user will find compelling. I’m not always a massive fan of research for traditional advertising, but for Champion of the Playground it was essential. One, we’re not 9-year-olds and two, the project lives or dies by its ability to engage.
The first response by kids to the initial ideas was ‘but how do you stop other people from cheating?’, which meant without unique codes that encrypted the Skills Kit scores, the idea would be fundamentally undermined. We were told that we’d have to wait over a year to get kit with codes, which didn’t really fit with our delivery date, but our Creative Technology wizards worked directly with suppliers to program boards and test prototype equipment.
I also now have a favourite ever research moment: In user-testing with a site prototype one of the kids was asked if they would play the game. His response? “Yeah, but they have to advertise it on TV so I know about it” – so well trained!
Picking the right battles:
Not that we had lots of fights, but it’s really hard to pick what to invest development time, brainpower and cash into when all the features look so darn good. And sometimes the most important details are the ones that you can’t see. We bought a games designer in to fix the games and reward logic so that the game felt fair. Just writing that sentence makes it sound simple, but it’s such a delicate balance to achieve and so crucial to the playability.
Being able to win trophies, badges and cool stuff for your avatar is a reason to play even if you can’t be the overall winner
For us, Champion of the Playground is a great example of how a brief doesn’t have to be answered by traditional advertising solutions. Why do we expect our audience to spend time with us if we’re not entertaining? By creating a game which is inextricably tied up with kids’ personal progress, we are giving them something that they genuinely want to participate in.
When you create an idea that isn’t a campaign, you naturally earn the right to exist for a longer time and in different formats. The initial response to Champion of the Playground from kids has been enthusiastic, which means that we get to keep creating and keep evolving. So keep an eye on FruitShoot.com, because we have some exciting things planned.
Credits (names in bold might as well get COTP tattoos, such has been their dedication to the cause)
Clients: Nadia Moussa & Debbie Eddy
Creative team: Simon Pearse & Emmanuel Saint M’Leux
Creative directors: Rosie Bardales, Jeremy Ettinghausen
Digital producer: Susan Liu
Technical director: Jim Hunt
Head of Creative Technology: Jon Andrews
User Experience: Ricky Faria
Account team: Ngaio Pardon, Alex Monger, Anna Halliday
Strategist: Priyanka Kanse
Strategic Business Lead: Nina Rahmatallah
Production Company: Unit 9
Game consultant: James Sheahan, Metagames [http://metagames.co.uk/]
Below the line agency: The Marketing Store