For as much as Americans say they love to play, it turns out finding time for frivolity is much harder than anyone would like. Between juggling the schedules of dual working parents, extracurricular activities, and kids who are highly drawn to screen time, many families find it difficult to allow for unstructured play in their kids’ lives.
According to a study on playfulness commissioned by GoGo squeeZ, makers of on-the-go fruit-sauce pouches, 92% of parents describe themselves as playful yet 74% of them admit to struggling to keep playfulness alive in their day-to-day lives. This is what GoGo squeeZ calls a playfulness deficit. Since the company is dedicated to providing snacks that enable kids to be free to play, GoGo SqueeZ decided to create a campaign to address, and hopefully resolve, America’s play gap.
“As a brand, we are very committed to supporting playfulness, and we were really curious to know the state of playfulness in the country,” says North American Managing Director of Materne and GoGo squeeZ, Meena Mansharamani. “We commissioned some research from Wakefield Research with 1,000 families to really understand the state of playfulness with American families.”
Launched last Friday, “Wherever You Go, Go Playfully” is an online and experiential campaign dedicated to helping families recapture some of the merriment they remember from their own childhood. Armed with statistics, the campaign delivers some home truths about how un-fun parents really are (dads are more likely to let work crash play–46% versus 27% for mothers), how it’s affecting their kids (87% of parents believe that their children don’t get enough free play), and what parents can do about it.
To illustrate how to be more playful, GoGo squeeZ and its digital agency of record Big Spaceship created a series of whimsical online films featuring super-fun celeb dad, Jerry O’Connell. His solution to finding more time to be playful is to hire “Jerry Doubles,” a series of non-lookalikes that carry out the more mundane aspects of his life so that he’s free to be a playful papa. While amusing in their absurdity (a young child poses a Jerry to pick up an ID card; an elderly woman refuses a bag while picking up his clothing, instead wearing it all at once; a burly guy pretends the floor is made of lava while auditioning for a Western flick in Jerry’s stead), the clips also model the simple ways that a playful spirit can be baked into the everyday tasks that consume our days.
“It’s supposed to be really lighthearted,” says Mark Pollard, VP, brand strategy at Big Spaceship. “The aim is for parents to see this content and for some of the insights to resonate with them in a way that gets them to take action.” While statistics about how parents surveyed feel their kids get less free play than they did (66% feel this way), the website also provides insight into when parents feel the least playful (while running errands, doing chores or preparing meals) and how to “carve out some time for nonsense.”
GoGo squeeZ is also taking its playfulness mission to the streets with its Mobile Playground, an interactive treehouse on wheels that made its first appearance in New York City’s Bryant Park last Friday. The mobile playground will travel the country throughout the summer.
The fact that so many families feel as though they don’t have the time for play at a time when research shows how important time for free-form imagination is to the cognitive development of children led GoGo squeeZ to partner with the Life is Good Playmakers, a nonprofit organization dedicated to promoting play. For every share of the of the campaign’s #gogoplayfully hashtag or any of the website multimedia content, GoGo squeeZ will donate $1, up to $100,000, to the organization.
“There are lots of things that keep people from having playful time with their kids,” says Mansharamani. “Partnering with the Life is Good Playmaker foundation allows us to bring all their research on how you get playfulness back into our lives [and] into communities.”