Brand Experience and Activation > Culture & Context

THE COLOR EXPERIMENT

TBWA\BELGIUM, Brussels / SOM / 2019

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Overview

Credits

Overview

Why is this work relevant for Brand Experience & Activation?

Diversity is a hot topic in today’s society. A complex and heated debate. In Belgium, schools are getting more and more diverse. Yet the way we look at that diversity is still very conditioned by outdated stereotypes.

A simple experiment showed that every child, whatever the background, considers light pink as the standard color for skin. That’s why we (SOM - a Belgian education network) developed a set of 7 skin tone crayons. A playful tool that opens up the debate and allows kids to feel reflected in today’s educational system.

Background

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.

Describe the creative idea

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.

Describe the strategy

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.

Describe the execution

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.

List the results

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.

Please tell us about the social behaviour and/or cultural insights that inspired your campaign

Diversity is a hot topic in today’s society. A complex and heated debate. In Belgium, schools are getting more and more diverse. Yet the way we look at that diversity is still very conditioned by outdated stereotypes. To open the conversation, we started with an experiment where we asked kids to fill in a drawing according to our instructions. This had some 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.

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