SnelwegSprookjes: location-based family fairy tales for on the road

Dutch creative agencies ACHTUNG! mcgarrybowen and Kraftwerk Linked by Isobar developed an amazing in-car family app that focuses on quality family time, less screen time and encourages kids to use their imagination. By creating unique location-based audio books, the app is a great example of Dutch design and creativity connecting family car brand Volkswagen with their target audience.

Background

Volkswagen asked the agency duo to come up with an idea that would not just be another advertising campaign, but also an innovative way of making families bond with the car brand. The Dutch team wanted to create something that was relevant to this particular group, addressing an everyday problem for parents: how to decrease your children’s screen time.

Parents tend to use screens to keep their kids quiet during a car journey. 76% of parents, with children aged 3 to 16, say their child is allowed to be on a device during a car trip, even though most parents feel guilty about this. Nearly 95% of all parents consider a family car journey as a perfect time for bonding, and an opportunity to talk with their children. Furthermore, research has shown that too much screen time actually decreases children’s imagination.

Strategy

We created an app that sparks kids imaginations and turned every car journey into a real adventure. The team created a digital product that shows kids how an everyday car ride can become a great adventure, using both their imagination, as well as elements that can be spotted around the motorway, like bridges, forests, tunnels, wind mills. The strategy was to bring back those valuable moments of interaction between parents and their children, and reduce screen time in the car at the same time.

Process

Kraftwerk Linked by Isobar developed a location-based audiobook app that reacts to its surroundings. The app builds stories in real-time around ordinary objects, seen around the motorway with each story built based on the location of the user. There are four base stories but each story will be unique as it is uses the location of your car to stimulate the characters.

The biggest challenge executing this idea was to find a scalable solution that allows users to start a story at any point on the motorway. To populate the engine with objects, the team used existing data points and researched Google Street View, supported by a computer vision engine (TensorFlow). Every Dutch motorway (5,000km) was scanned to identify objects like bridges, windmills, trees, petrol stations, to transform them into story elements.

The team created an experience that feels technologically innovative, but also handcrafted at the same time. They used smart technicians and worked with a group of very talented craftsmen-and women, including the Brazilian illustrator Mario Níveo, and award-winning children’s authors Joke van Leeuwen and Daan Remmerts de Vries.

Outcome

The app was launched together with a communication campaign, including online videos, social media posts, and car-stickers, posters and bookmarks of the characters that were given to schools. The SnelwegSprookjes app reached the #1 position in the app stores’ book category within three days.

Over 30,000 motorway fairy tales have already been told. With more than 450,000 minutes of motorway story time - time that otherwise would have been spent behind a screen. As the app has received so much positive feedback, the agency is already researching the possibilities of a sequel. Like adding new stories to the app, or even making it work for other countries as well.

This case was brought to you by the Dutch Digital Design collective.

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