$chool is Cool!

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I have read lately about the Bananagrams Challenge, felt a great rush in my blood and loads of excitement in my mind and heart, such topics linking events, schools, competitions, games and toys together energize me, inspire me and create endless flow of exciting opportunities in my brain.

I believe a company who has the courage, the intelligence, the product, the idea, the content and mechanics to enter schools and interact with huge number of kids is just at a different level from the competition and in a more unique position than the rest.

To refresh your mind on why heading to schools is a fantastic and creative marketing strategy check one of my previous blog posts on this topic:

Create an Unbeatable Relationship With Kids by Adopting this "Always In Style" Marketing Strategy! 

Back to The Bananagrams Challenge, last summer Bananagrams launched its first official UK tournament for schools with the main aim to help boost vocabulary and spelling skills in line with the new curriculum at classrooms and after school clubs across the country. School children were encouraged to go wild with words by playing Bananagrams games with their schoolmates. A special Bananagrams kit was designed for this project to be aligned with the new Key Stage 2 spelling lists in schools.

Screen shot 2015-04-06 at 11.15.01 PMMoreover schools were encouraged to join by receiving a free Bananagrams Challenge Welcome Pack worth over £40, which includes the tools required to run the competition (2 Bananagrams games and brand new Collins Little Book of Bananagrams). And the final winner won a trophy and £500 for his school. 

This overall activity gained massive acceptance from schools, great PR buzz around this topic and definitely managed to reach, engage and interact with kids, which is ultimately any marketer’s objective. Furthermore, the game proved to be a great tool for schools to use in order to enhance spelling skills in an entertaining way far from the usual teaching regime. Let’s admit it “What a great achievement”!

And you also can achieve the same if not greater results! So here are some ideas you can apply in order to interact with kids at schools. However let me first highlight two different product categories here:

Category #1: Educational Toys/ Games or part of the STEAM category
This is an easier category than the latter one since the educational element itself can be your ticket pass to schools. Most schools embrace toys/ games which can enhance specific set of skills through play.
The best 2 ways to enter schools for this category is:

  • Arrange interschools' competitions, combining the fun, educational and challenge elements to engage with kids and win both the schools and parents’ blessings!
  • Organize school roadshows to explain the product concept, interact with kids and share great moments with them

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Top Trumps is a great example of a product that was introduced to schools and National Schools Top Trumps Tournament is an annual event where thousands of schools compete against each other to win the UK's Top Trump Championship. Back in 2011 the The National Children's Bureau (The NCB) conducted a research on the National Schools Top Trumps Tournament and found that Top Trumps does help children improve their basic numeracy and literacy, as well as help them gain and deepen their knowledge on the subject matter covered in the pack. The report also shows that schools and students who took place in the tournament have benefited from the activity in terms of learning, social skills, behaviour and enjoyment. Read the summary report here.

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Hasbro School Scrabble program is another fantastic example that has been running in schools for the last 2 decades, and both teachers and parents believe that the game has great impact on developing various skills in kids such as verbal, math, social, teamwork skills, in addition to strengthening strategic thinking, curiosity, time management and attention span. Moreover, Hasbro arranges National School Scrabble Championship for students on yearly basis. Check this video for last year’s championship: http://bcove.me/805221vh

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Category #2: Non-educational Toys/ Games
This is a tricky category, some schools might embrace a pure fun filled road show/ event/ competition and others might request an educational factor to be part of the campaign. If that’s the case, it’s still okay, you can find ways to be in schools as you will read in the below examples:

  • Team up with an educational content provider to create a story or an educational element around your brand
  • Brainstorm with your team the various skills your product enhances, whether its motor, communication, social or emotional skills, create a smart message, proposal and marketing collateral to portray the idea successfully to schools and use the card of the importance of play in child development to further strengthen your proposal
  • Partner with companies who are already known to schools and have experienced the power of this channel, of course this works as long as there is no conflict of interest and your products complement your partners’ offerings. These companies can be in the same industry or in a totally different sector. As an example toy car suppliers might partner with Road and Transportation Authority to spread the awareness about road safety, hence organizing road shows across schools to convey the message. Things can be spiced up a bit further by adding the competition element between schools (a car race competition, a drawing competition, track design competition, design a car competition, etc)
  • Another type of partnership is to partner with venues that host kids' fun days and educational trips. In UAE for example, many school trips are organized to Kidzania, Little Explorers or Dubai Dolphinarium, hence companies catering to kids can partner with these venues in various forms to be part of the experience (below images are examples of venues that host school field trips in UAE, image #1 Little Explorers in City Center Mirdif and image #2 Dubai Dolphinarium)
  • Develop a list of all open days at schools and contact schools to be part of this open day by providing fun packed activities based on your brands

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“Dettol’s Healthy Kids Competition” in partnership with Kidzania is an interesting example of school competitions (far from toys/ games) that took place recently in UAE. Under the umbrella of Dettol’s “Mission For Health” school program, 500 students in different areas were approached and invited to compete and qualify for the Kidzania competition. Kids were asked to come up with creative performances using the lyrics of Dettol’s hand washing song. A judging panel of four members including representatives from the Ministry of Education, UAE parenting media, Kidzania and RB Middle East evaluated the four performances and announced the winners at the end of the event. Furthermore participants had the chance to participate in fun hand painting and hand washing activities and also interact with comedians during their performances. Indeed this is a very interactive and engaging activity between the brand and kids! 

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In a nutshell if you are aiming to double your marketing influence, create an unbeatable bond between your brand and kids, generate a fabulous buzz among children and parents, strongly reinforce your brand's name in the market and surely position your brand at a different level amongst your rivals then schools are one of your best partners ever!

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