The pandemic has pushed parents to new stress levels, as many balance remote work with childcare and homeschooling. The adjustment has also been difficult for kids who are apart from their friends and teachers. Though these are trying times, Highlights for Children is asking young parents to “try to see the bright side” in its current brand campaign – the first in the media company’s 74-year history.
“The core message at the heart of this campaign is optimism,” says Kent Rademaker, director of brand marketing at Highlights. “We think optimism is a character trait that, when nurtured, can serve children throughout their lives, helping them find their confidence, their resilience or even a lifelong passion.”
Titled “Our Greatest Purpose,” the multichannel campaign from creative agency Giant Spoon is designed to reintroduce the Highlights brand and its range of products to millennial parents, says Nathalie Con, VP and strategy director at Giant Spoon. While most consumers are familiar with Highlights magazine – a favorite at dentist and pediatrician offices – the global brand creates experiences for children in many other formats, including subscription clubs, learning products, apps, podcasts, Alexa skills, puzzles, and activity books.
“More importantly, we wanted to share the Highlights POV [point-of-view] about the importance of nurturing optimism and start a conversation with parents,” Con says. “We needed to think about relevance both in message and medium.”
Crafting a Message That Resonates
While brainstorming around messaging, the creatives at Giant Spoon decided to translate the theme at the heart of the Highlights campaign into a call to action.
“The team decided that if optimism was a verb, it would be ‘to try,’” Con explains. “We wanted to put this call to action out in the world to say that it’s not about achievement or perfection, but having the right mindset. And when kids try, they become more curious, confident, creative and caring. That’s Highlights’ Greatest Purpose: to help kids try new things and ultimately be their best selves.”
Visually, Giant Spoon aimed to modernize the Highlights brand, which often used “cartoon-like visuals” in past marketing materials, Con says. In contrast, the creative team channeled something more “real, modern, and emotional” in the campaign video and other advertising mediums, showcasing real children and parents interacting with Highlights products in their daily lives.
“Throughout the campaign, whether it was our video or our media partnerships, we wanted to make sure that there was a diverse representation of kids and families trying and discovering,” Con adds. “We wanted to make sure that there were a variety of moments that felt big and exciting and also moments that felt quiet but powerful.”
Finding the Right Medium for the Message
While Highlights’ history is rooted in print, the brand turned mostly to digital to reach its target audience for the campaign, which launched in mid-July and will run through the 2020 holiday season.
“Young parents research, shop and buy for their children in primarily digital media, so we’re showing up with this campaign in these spaces,” Rademaker says. “We’re running campaign creative across the social and content channels they visit frequently and spend the most time on. We’re also partnering with Motherly and Romper – two outlets that have built a trusted relationship with millennial parents as resources in raising kids with optimism.”
The relationships with Motherly and Romper (both part of Bustle Digital Group) include podcast and influencer initiatives, as well as paid social and YouTube, adds Con. Highlights is also sponsoring content for parents on the Bustle brands’ websites. For example, this Highlights-sponsored article on Motherly provides parents with advice on how to rethink measurement of success for their kids this school year.
Highlights is also tapping into millennials’ social media habits to drive deeper engagement with its campaign and products, encouraging parents to show off fun learning experiences with their children using #MyHighlightsKid or #MyHighlightsKids.
“The time is ripe for a positive mantra for families,” Con says. “We can see parents feeling relieved when the conversation changes from ensuring kids are successful and not falling behind to the important factor that they’re trying each and every day.