Federal Public Service

Operation infiltration: busting into the world of Generation Z

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Warning: new warning symbols

Nearly 5.000 children suffer accidents with household products every year. That’s an absurd number, caused by a lack of knowledge or understanding of the new universal warning signs on packaging.

The Belgian Federal Public Service Department of Health urgently needed to find a way to make kids aged 10-14 aware of the dangers of household chemicals.

So, obviously, they called BUBKA. Duh! (well, after a pitch…)

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Warning: GenZ cannot be reached

Well, that’s a big lie! You just have to know how. And BUBKA knows. Otherwise you wouldn’t be reading this case.

You see, youngsters spend a lot of their days online. Chatting, immersing themselves in endless streams of content and following every step their role models take. Their way of communicating has evolved as well. Words have been replaced by video, pictures and emoticons.

This visual language helps them express their feelings and add context. A message without any emoticon can easily lead to frustration and confusion.

Clearly, emoticons are a wonderful way to reach GenZ.


Smart strategy ahead

By using emoticons in our campaign, we already managed to speak the language of young teens. But that doesn’t get them involved, and surely doesn’t make them active participants.

Now, what do teens love to do except for sending pictures of vegetables and fruit to each other? Simple: computer games!

Yup. We created a game. A simple, funny, short game with a cool prize. And then we asked popular influencers to play it.

Warning: addictive game

We created a bunch of situations in which we replaced the warning signs on dangerous chemical products by a question mark.

All players had to do, was to choose the right symbol and drag and drop it to the right bottle.

If they didn’t choose the right sign when time ran out, an emoticon did something incredibly stupid with the product. The result? A ridiculous death scene. And one very dead emoticon.

Choosing the right label simply leads to the next situation.

Warning: more than a game

Some (social) media moguls have made it difficult to target younger children on their channels. Kind of a bummer, since they’re very active on those channels.

Spoiler: we did reach them on social media nonetheless. As well as on YouTube, probably the biggest ‘platform’ to reach the young ones. Funny animation sequences of dying emoticons became pre-roll videos on YouTube channels with a large teen following, like ACID and UP2D8.

We used two different types of social ads with two different approaches. The campaign ads are focused on urging youngsters to play the game and win cool prices. The ongoing ads, however, displayed typical recognizable situations gone terribly wrong. Largely because the emoticon failed to respect the warning sign. An emoticon using a toxic spray as a microphone on Tik-Tok for example, with the expected consequences. By putting these fun and, we admit, sometimes cruel scenarios in social content, we got to teach our target group about warning signs when they’re still on social media.


Warning: influencers involved

Who might be better than we are at influencing our youngsters? That’s right: their influencers. If we get them to tell the importance of warning symbols, they’ll surely get the message. So that’s exactly what we did.

Nationwide influencers, known from Ketnet to The Voice Belgium, were recruited to talk about the importance of warning symbols and urge their following to play the game.


Warning: impressive results

Ah, finally we got to the part where we can toot our own horn! The goal was to get the word out and reach Gen Z. This is how we scored:

  • 1.3 million views on YouTube
  • 1.4 million youngsters reached through Facebook Boost
  • 5,1 million views on Snapchat
  • 7,5 million views in Google Ads
  • 1.12 million views through Facebook video
  • 55.000 gaming sessions
  • 23.507 registered players
  • We’ve reached 95% of our target audience

Well, how do you like them apples? You can imagine us doing an epic mic drop now.