Colenso BBDO


Client: Spark
Product: Spark
Title: Play
Media: -
Country: New Zealand
Date Of Campaign: 27.10.2019-present

Background: Whilst children’s brains are developing, mindless screen time directly correlates with an increase in multiple behavioural and mental wellbeing issues, such as increase in anxiety, addictive behaviours and a decrease in attention span, social skills, physical activity and quality of sleep. This is why it’s more important than ever to teach our kids how to use tech well, in a way that supports learning, but doesn’t interfere with their development into happy healthy humans.

Idea: As New Zealand’s leading Telco, Spark wanted to help parents raise the next digital generation of Kiwis by helping to restore screen time balance in the home and create opportunities for the family to have positive conversations about screen time use. In partnership with Gilbert Rugby, Nakatomi, and child psychologist Dr Emma Woodward, Spark, developed a smart ball that helps families balance screen time with active playtime. Minute for minute. Custom built techware inside the ball tracks every minute that it’s active. The ball then syncs with the Play by Spark app, and this active playtime is exchanged for screen time. When screen time is up, the app lets the whole family know through notifications.Unique modes were designed for both parent and child. So the parent can monitor the child’s screen usage, and set goals, while the child can see how much screen time they have left, and check out their achievements. As a result, the app gamifies active play. Furthermore, through machine learning the smart ball can tell the child how many float passes, spin passes, place kicks, drop kicks or punts they have clocked up. 70 smart balls were custom built for a program across New Zealand led by Child Psychologist, Dr Emma Woodward. Over the period of 6 weeks families were given the ball, app and a series of challenges. The brief given to the families was for them to find the right balance of screen time and playtime in their households, and at every step Dr Emma was there to offer tactics and advice. The program was supported by a fully integrated campaign that prompted the public to get involved, watch the families in Spark’s three part web series, learn balance tactics and help shape the future of Spark Play.

Results: As a result of the campaign, 90% of kids started to become more aware of their screen time usage. 76% of families saw a positive change in their child’s behaviour. 44% of kids were sleeping better. 35% of our trial kids were self-regulating by the end of the program and this was sustained up to 3 weeks after. Over 2/3 of the kids mentioned that the best thing that they enjoyed about the trial was spending time with their parents.Play by Spark also caused an increase in brand love, which tracked 25% above the telco category average.

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