Sunscreen heroes fight evil solar forces

There's an adage that goes something like this: 10% of people remember what they hear; 20% what they see; and 80% what they've done.
So when Ombrelle, the sun protection brand from L'Oreal Canada, set out to talk to kids about sun protection, it wanted something interactive - something its target could 'do.' It wasn't quite enough anymore to distribute posters and hold school workshops as they have done in the past.

There’s an adage that goes something like this: 10% of people remember what they hear; 20% what they see; and 80% what they’ve done.

So when Ombrelle, the sun protection brand from L’Oreal Canada, set out to talk to kids about sun protection, it wanted something interactive – something its target could ‘do.’ It wasn’t quite enough anymore to distribute posters and hold school workshops as they have done in the past.

‘It’s about what type of compelling content you can provide that is an expression of your brand and is linked to more than just product benefits. It’s about building an experience,’ says Philippe Prevost, president of Montreal-based digital entertainment shop, All Media Drive, which worked with Ombrelle to develop the latter’s first major online initiative, an interactive animated video game to educate kids.

Distributed on a CD-ROM as a gift-with-purchase (GWP) in all Jean Coutu pharmacies across Quebec during the week of May 6, the educational game was also available online at www.ombrelle.com/sunsmart mid-May, and sent to dermatologists and pediatricians throughout Canada.

Targeted at kids 7-10, the Flash animation, ‘Super shield and Parabella vs. The Empire of the Sun’ follows two sun protection super heroes as they thwart the evil forces of UVA and UVB, who are trying to conquer earth by utilizing the hole in the ozone protection layer. The interactive game component allowed kids to play the part of super hero, while learning about how to protect themselves from the harmful effects of the sun, says Josee Lavoie, medical relations manager at Ombrelle.

As they protect a family being targeted by the evil UVA and UVB in a series of four missions, kids must select protective gear such as hats, sunglasses, clothing and of course, sunblock. Each ‘mission’ includes a workshop for parents or teachers and kids.

‘Obviously, if you look at who’s using the Web in terms of content, it’s kids, tween, teens – and there’s a big opportunity there to interact,’ says Prevost.

The campaign, which launched in May and wrapped in August, did exactly that. According to Prevost, the campaign tracked 2269 unique visitors to the site, with a total of 19,010 games played. The average time spent playing the game was over one hour per player, and the average game-play frequency was eight. One player alone played the game a whopping 509 times.

‘Last year, it really was a test and the objective was to see the retention – how much time kids would spend on a game; how it would be perceived by important stakeholders, like dermatologists; what would the impact be at the retail level,’ he says, adding that Ombrelle did substantially increase pre-season bookings, over their year-before sales. ‘The overall objective is to show parents that the brand cares about their kids health and hopefully move up the brand consideration list.’

While complete results of the retail distribution component are not yet available, the initial Web site numbers have prompted Ombrelle to begin planning next year’s campaign – one that will include a contest to allow for profiling of the respondents and target, he says.