Hand-Foot-and-Mouth disease is a huge problem in China for children because they don’t wash their hands regularly. PG Safeguard teaches kids the importance of washing their hands through an educational game across campuses.
Whether it’s a part of Chinese culture or whether it’s an omission from the educational system is unclear, but children play with each other, with toys, on the playground and in the dirt and then proceed to eat, touch their face, or rub their eyes. Their dirty hands transmit bacteria that is directly linked to hand-foot-and-mouth disease.
PG’s task was to successfully engage the kids while communicating the message that washing their hands has immediate benefits. To do so, they had to bring the idea of bacteria to life so the kids could have a reason to wash their hands. The widespread gaming culture in China due to the incidence of mobile phones (not just smartphones) with games to fill the idle time helped PG move towards developing an interactive game/installation to help educate the kids and communicate through tactile learning.
The game leverages XBox Kinect to show the kids interacting with AR images on screen. Bacteria populates the screen and follows their hands around. On screen prompts tell kids when to start washing their hands to get rid of the bacteria. Meanwhile educational text tells kids what they are actually doing and why they should do it.
The work was incorporated into National Hand Washing Day, which helped it earn media and helped get the work into additional schools across China.
Why I’m Curious
This is a great example of leveraging a key consumer insight (the ability to learn through game play) and finding the right technology to meet that behavior (XBox Kinect) to seamlessly address a behavioral issue. The goal of the campaign was a complex one that involved education, attitudinal shift, and behavioral shift. I’m curious to see whether incidence of hand-foot-and-mouth disease decreases over time if education via this game continues to be implemented.
In terms of advertising, I’m curious to see if other behaviors can be learned through gamified installations and whether this technique could be used to train people to buy certain products or discover a need for a new product.