The ‘Right To Play’ has been a global initiative for reclaiming childhood by Unicef in 2013, and in Hong Kong it is a topical message that has particular resonance, as it is a city where parents have become obsessed with excessive tuition for children from very early ages upwards.
Rosemary Tan, head of marketing & digital, Hong Kong Committee for Unicef, told Campaign Asia-Pacific that throughout history and in all cultures, children play, but not many Hong Kong children can enjoy their 'right to play' under the stress of academic achievement.
"We hope this can be a warm reminder for parents and caretakers to give children back their opportunities of free play, instead of arranging too many structured activities for them," said Tan.
The campaign was launched last week with a burst of outdoor, online and television advertising with charity slots on TVB. It will expand to comprise educational materials, events and programmes encouraging Hong Kong parents to let their kids play for at least one hour per day.
The TV commercial, which has also been adapted for a shorter 30-second online version, tells the story of a ball, which rolls from door to door in search of a friend to play with, only to keep getting rejected because all the children have homework to do.
In Hong Kong there has been a sharp rise in the number of children receiving medical consultations for emotional problems, according to psychiatrist Kathy Chan Po-man, who told local media that one out of every four children she treats is below the age of eight.
She believes a major reason is probably due to the interviews the children undergo to enter a primary school—something that has only been practiced in recent years.
Though the school term starts only in September in Hong Kong, many parents have been forced to queue outside renowned schools from January onwards just to get application forms for Primary One places, putting both themselves and their children in a pressure-cooker state of mind.
Project: Right To Play
Client: Hong Kong Committee for Unicef
Creative agency: KymeChow Communications
Art director: Mat Cheung
Copywriter: Flora Chow/Chris Kyme
Client service: Queenie Lau
Production company: Wowowtank
Director: Tan Khiang
Producer: Mo Cheng
Photographer: Simon Nicol
Exposure: Outdoor, Online, TV