Jul 07, 2015 • By

Technology rules for kids but nature is calling

Think back to your childhood … do some of your fondest childhood memories include enjoying the great outdoors?

Now think about what today’s tech-savvy youth say about their childhood:

-“Just last week I watched 23 episodes of a TV series in less than four days.”

-“Text, send email … three to four hours a day… I would die if I didn’t have my tablet.”

-“I forget I’m in the house, I have parents, I have a sister, I have a dog. I just think I’m in the video game. I completely get lost.”

Those are actual responses from kids featured in a new Nature Valley Canada campaign.

The brand believes nature can be a source of joy in everybody’s life and its purpose is to connect people with joys of nature.

But in an age of constant digital connection, Nature Valley Canada is concerned children and adults are becoming disconnected from the outdoors.

As part of their campaign to share the joy of nature last year, the brand took underprivileged kids from urban areas out to experience nature for the first time. The resulting digital spot, “Field Trip,” illustrated the kind of joys nature brings to children.

The brand considered the first year of the campaign a success, but the Canada team wanted to take their message to the next level.

So for their latest TV spot they recorded interviews with parents and grandparents about what they did for fun as a child.

And then they asked kids what they do today. You can watch the video here.

(Watch a version that features French-speaking families, here).

As difficult as those responses from the kids were for their parents and grandparents in the video to hear, Nature Valley Canada wasn’t surprised.

“We thought their childhood memories would be very much about technology. So we said you know what, we’re going to try a social experiment. We’re going to go out there and talk to real families – three generations,” says Desiree Brassard, brand strategy and activation manager on snacks, General Mills Canada. “It happened as we expected. We got some very rich memories from parents and grandparents, and then we asked kids … they love technology.”

While the response from the children perhaps was predictable, Desiree says it was still eye-opening for her.

“In the beginning, I felt some nostalgia from the parents. I heard their nature memories and it made me want to get out there and be able to be a part of it. For the second part, not having kids myself, when I heard them just come right out and talk about technology so much I was shocked. I didn’t realize just how much it had taken over childhood. And lastly, I felt empathy when the parents did see it. Even though they have an idea that this is going on, it really sinks in and they reflect. You empathize and you want to make the change for yourself and all the people in your life,” she says.

Tearful mother


Emma Eriksson, marketing director of snacks for General Mills Canada and a mother of two young children, told me that witnessing the fascination of the kids in the videos with technology also was a wake-up call for her as a parent.

“I think you see your children using technology and at first you’re sort of proud, thinking ‘Wow my child can maneuver an iPad, they’re learning, they’re so smart.’ And it sort of happens gradually without you realizing that instead of having amazing moments and that sense of joy and freedom from being out in nature, a lot of children’s time has been replaced sitting in front of an iPad, phone or video game console,” Emma says.

The Nature Valley Canada team doesn’t want today’s youth to miss out on a connection to the outdoors, so they are using their strong platform to create awareness and empower parents to nurture that connection early on.

“When we talked to consumers about our call to action, rediscover the joy of nature, everybody thought that it was a great thing for the brand. It felt like we had the right to play in this area and that we have an authentic message,” says Emma.

The Naturevalley.ca page has a park finder for communities in Canada and tips for simple activities parents can do in nature with their children. The brand also teamed up with Collin Harris, of Take Me Outside, to champion the cause.

Emma is not implying parents need to load all their kids in the car and go on a long journey.

“We want to make this very approachable and very easy to do,” Emma says. “In Canada, nature is just around the corner. You can go in your own back yard to do it. You can literally just go down to the park at the end of your street and experience nature,” she says.

The Nature Valley Canada team worked with Cossette on creative and media for the campaign.

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