Cannes Lions

The Color Experiment

TBWA\BELGIUM, Brussels / SOM / 2019

Presentation Image
Case Film






Our society is getting more and more diverse, but still we don’t succeed to look at each other the same way. How we look at people is often conditioned behaviour that we have learned during our childhood. That’s why SOM - a Belgian education network - wanted to talk to children in a creative way about diversity and make them understand that all skin tones are equal.


When you look at your average classroom, you see a range of different skin tones paying attention to the teacher. But when they are asked to color skin they all grab the same crayon: light pink.

A simple experiment showed that every child, whatever the background, considers light pink as the standard color for skin. That’s why SOM - a Belgian education network - developed a set of 7 skin tone crayons. A tool to encourage everyone to broaden their look on diversity.

To launch the crayons, more than 1000 students of the SOM network gathered at the Hoover Square in the city of Leuven to color gigantic drawings of people from all over the world. From light pinkish tones to dark brown ones.


The objective was to open up the debate in education and in our society, by showing one of the problems beneath the surface and by offering a possible tool to change the way our kids look at diversity.

Changing the way they look at it, will help boost their self-esteem.

Playful elements, such as crayons, can draw attention to diversity in our educational system.

The playful tool opens up the debate and allows kids to feel reflected in today’s educational system.


How crayons can draw attention to diversity in our educational system.

We asked kids to take part in an experiment which had unsettling results. Directed to pick a colored pencil to use to fill in “skin color” on a drawing of a person, every child picked the light pink shade. Even kids with skin tones much better matched by other pencils in the box picked pink.

When asked to choose orange or green, kids happily obliged, so they know their colors. And when asked to color in a picture of themselves, they all choose a pencil that’s very representative of how they actually look. But the phrase “skin color” throws them off.

So we created a box of pencils with seven different shades—The Skin Color Collection—to redefine what kids think of as the right color for skin.


The organic video got over 24.000 views on SOM’s facebook page, which only had 600 likes at that time, in only two weeks.

In overall, the campaign obtained an Equivalent Advertising Value of more than € 150.000 without any money invested in media.

Reaching more than 75% of Belgians.

And the pencils? Thousands of schools have ordered the skin color collection and lots of Belgian kids are coloring like they’ve never colored before.