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safefood We might have created a monster

Children have no problem picking up bad habits. Getting them to adopt good habits, on the other hand, like washing their hands properly, can be a big problem. So McCann Dublin came up with a big solution (you might even say monstrous) to help safefood teach children, parents and carers the importance of proper hand hygiene.

The challenge

As anyone with a child aged 0-4 will testify – and that includes one or two of us at McCann Dublin – it’s not easy persuading these easily distracted, often inattentive little people to wash their hands. And it’s nigh on impossible to explain to them what bacteria is, let alone how important it is to protect them from the dangers of the nastiest: E.coli. It’s all a bit boring and uninteresting to them really.

Our approach

What is interesting to this 0-4 year-old audience, as ever, are cartoons. And what makes cartoons attractive to their parents and carers is when they teach children important life lessons, as well as keep them entertained. If we were going to strike the right chord, we were going to have to take a leaf out of Peppa Pig’s book.

Our creative strategy was set around developing a cartoon character of our own for safefood, that would engage kids with humour and, rather than have them picking up bad habits, take up healthy, new ones. And so was born Rufus the Messy Monster, a giant-sized child who loved playing outside with his monster pup and never cleaning up afterwards, as well as never washing his hands after going to the loo. That was, at least, until Monster Dad helped him clean up his act. This story would form the backbone of our handwashing campaign for safefood.

The execution

Illustration & Design

Character design and creation was conducted wholly in-house by the creative team at McCann. The look and feel was carried through from online video to web and print collateral. Rufus made appearances out-of-home, in cinema and on educational activity packs designed and delivered by us to creches and daycare centres nationwide.

Content creation

With three very different audiences – young children, parents, carers – messaging had to be carefully crafted in a way that would connect with everyone. That extended to the catchy rhyme that tells the Rufus handwashing story. It had to be funny to hook kids but communicate the relevant information too to parents and carers. The video was a co-watching experience, with parents/carers watching along with children and using the actions to help teach children proper, hygienic handwashing habits.

Social & Digital

The video, which to date, has garnered almost 900,000 views on the safefood YouTube channel was edited into bite-sized chunks and provided the content for a highly targeted campaign on VOD, display, web and social.

The results

YouTube Views
topic awareness
of clean hands