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How Persil freed the kids

News, 04 May 2016

GLOBAL: Ten days into its current Free The Kids campaign, Persil had generated more than 40m impressions on Twitter with its eye-catching revelation that many children now spend less time outdoors than US prison inmates.

The stated aim of the laundry detergent brand 

– also know as OMO in some markets – with this campaign is not to count social media interactions, however, but to put onto the public agenda the issue of children not playing outdoors enough. And to build on its long-running Dirt is Good proposition. 

The main channels used so far have been PR and Twitter, a platform suited to creating debate and movements. (For more, including how the brand leveraged its existing Dirt is Good assets, read Warc's exclusive report featuring interviews with MullenLowe London's Strategy Director, Emma Batho, and Global Business Director, Mark Preston: Persil: Free the Kids.)

An initial "provoke to educate" phase will subsequently move into a "facilitate" phase: MullenLowe London, the agency behind it, explained that it wants the debate to translate into behaviour change via partnerships at a local level which individual markets can use to promote facilitation of outdoor play while also driving product sales.

In an increasingly risk-averse world, Batho said that that "parents don't understand the risks associated with NOT facilitating their children to go out and play".

She explained that children learn essential skills and qualities – leadership, co-operation, abstract thought, problem solving, conflict resolution, controlled risk – through play. "You can't teach these skills, children have to learn for themselves," she said.

"And they won't learn if they don't go out and get dirty," she added.

As well as using Twitter, the campaign has benefited from the backing of creativity expert and educational advisor Sir Ken Robinson.

"Obviously, someone like him being on board with the campaign brings a huge amount of credibility to it," said Preston.

He is "the focal piece of the PR aspect of the campaign in terms of expressing how important play is from an educational point of view".

These combined efforts have driven an additional 17,000 visits in the first ten days to the Dirt Is Good website where the film and PR content is housed, as well as the film generating 160,000 YouTube views.

Data sourced from Warc