By Rebekah Gierlinska (Strategy Director)
NZ has the second worst rate of bullying in the OECD for 5-9 year olds.
The Ministry of Education wanted to improve children’s understanding of bullying, specifically talking to kids 5-9 to ensure the right behaviours are embedded at a young age. To do this, we used the most powerful communications platform to educate young children – storytelling.
Storytelling allowed us to model real-life bullying scenarios and to teach kids, with the help of their parents and teachers, how to best react and engage within them.
Attention is like oxygen for bullies, and being directly involved in a bullying situation is hard. So instead, we focused on empowering bystanders to re-dress the imbalance.
We created ‘Oat the Goat’, an interactive storytelling experience. Our story’s key character, Oat, follows a journey to a mountain top where he witnesses different bullying scenarios. Built as an interactive pick-a-path, children make the decisions on how Oat should act. (e.g., Join in the “fun”? Yell at the bullies? Ask the victim if they’re okay?)
Owning the two most powerful storytelling moments, mat-time and bed-time, we launched Oat in schools nationwide, using teachers as a channel.
We then partnered with TVNZ in a media-first: a live pick-a-path on broadcast TV. Using their remote, viewers – our bystanders – could switch between TV channels to influence the story’s outcome. They were given the choice to stay on TVNZ1 and laugh along with bullies, or to switch/stay on TVNZ2 and ask if the victim was okay.
Engagement was outstanding. 590k people watched, and over 42,000 actively engaged using their remote.
Even more importantly, of our core audience – households with kids – all interactions saw them choosing to switch channels to ask if the victim was okay – a mass demonstration of the power of kindness.