Mini Babybel UK has engaged both RKCR/Y&R and Matmi to launch a new content platform, Babybel Buddies, for the brand featuring a cast of 3D characters set to feature in games, graphic novels, advertising, in-store, and online.
“As a brand Babybel has been struggling to appeal to the older target market of their demographic,” explained RKCR/Y&R senior digital producer, Martin Caulfield. “They are [Babybel] a very parent-friendly brand, which is great, but with kids between the ages of six and 12 or 13 they’re rebelling against that. Babybel Buddies is about trying to give something back to that age really.”
Introducing the public to the characters is a Halloween edition of the Babybel Buddies Bowling game, which is available via the App Store and Google Play Store, which sees players challenged to stop a gang of ravenous rodents tricking them out of their treats and eating all of the world’s cheese.
Of the game, Matmi CEO Jeff Coghlan told The Drum: “We wanted to go against the freemium market with so many kids getting into trouble spending all that money. There are no in-app purchases, or purchases at all, it’s a multi-player, pass-and-play game for families that they can all play together.”
By collecting nutritious food such as fruit and milk players can unlock new levels integrating a healthy eating message into the game in a way which, according to Coghlan, isn’t “too preachy”. The Halloween game will be followed by a winter edition, timed to coincide with Christmas, which will also launch the characters on TV.
Discussing the decision to introduce the characters on digital first, Coghlan said: “It’s interesting how things have switched, digital is such a strong thing now we’re finding that it’s at the heart of campaigns rather than just an accompaniment. Digital is ruling the roost with ideas spinning off into TV and other avenues afterwards because it is a great way of testing things and a lot of brands are waking up to the fact that conventional old digital [banner ads] isn’t really what the future of digital is all about.
“It has to be engaging, interactive, two-way and fun...there are issues with what people are spending their money on and what we’re clearly saying is there’s a different way of doing things when you can give the user something back and they can have fun with it, it’s not about being to preachy or to ‘buy my product’ anymore.”
The Babybel Buddies platform is due to extend further into 2015, with new features such as in-game personalisation of the characters set to be added.
“The idea firstly is to grow the Bowling platform,” said Caulfield. “We wanted to introduce the original characters first but the big thing for us [RKCR/Y&R] and the thing we can’t wait to get started on is the personalised characters where the kids will have a real opportunity to get involved, hopefully we’ll also be able to bring it full cycle and introduce the opportunity to 3D print the toys and for the kids to design and create their own Babybel Buddy.”
Babybel characters will also feature on the Babybel YouTube channel in animated graphic novels which are currently being created in collaboration with child literacy experts and both RKCR/Y&R and Matmi are hopeful that Babybel will roll out the content platform into other markets in the not too distant future.