As the age-old professional saying goes ‘never work with children or animals’, a mantra I have managed to stick to over the past 15 years despite actually having a very fond attachment to both now. It’s probably a well and truly justified piece of business advice, as nothing ever goes to plan with a whole host of potential issues to deal with from tears and tantrums to pooing and peeing.
That said, a recent client win has pushed me well and truly into this realm. I’ve literally jumped off the deep end without the aid of armbands to keep me afloat (metaphorically speaking of course) and have found myself immersed into the world of kids.
As the brief to create fun, educational and interactive holiday activities for Wyevale Garden Centres’ Little Diggers kid’s club landed on my desk, I took a gulp of air.
Not only was this a huge project requiring a lot of logistical and creative brainpower, it also meant having to get into the mind of a little person, something I was not entirely relishing the idea of.
Where to start? Right I was a kid once, what did I like doing? Erm, I can’t remember that far back but I think it involved collecting frogspawn in buckets to show my neighbours, scratching my name onto my dad’s car with a nail and terrorizing my little brother. Not a good start really.
So I decided to do a bit of market research and speak to some children, a prospect more daunting than the boardroom with Sir Alan.
However the reality was very different and I wanted to share a few useful tips for dealing with kids and delivering successful experiential campaigns.
– Keep it simple - but kids are not stupid so treat them with the respect and intelligence that they deserve.
– We live in a punishment/reward society so kids love doing things successfully – quizzes, stickers and balloons are a winning combination!
– Get messy. Most kids are followed round the house with a dust buster. Anything that results in paint covered hands or fingernails engrained with soil is a winner.
– They are thirsty for knowledge, but it has to be authentic and dare I say contain a little bit of potential peril, such as meeting a real life beekeeper and seeing live bees in a hive, feeding a bird of prey and getting up close to its talons and sharp beak or holding an array of creepy crawlies and beastie bugs.
– They love to create and nurture, so give them the tools to remain interested beyond the event.
– Reconnect them to nature and they will be engaged, enthused and most importantly happy.
– Lastly – make it fun, if it doesn’t get you giddy and remind you of your carefree days as a kid then don’t bother, it will bomb!
I’ve learnt a lot from working with kids in the past few months, it’s definitely not without its challenges but nowhere near as difficult as I perceived and I have to admit that I love it. Perhaps it’s time to crack the animal side?