Colenso BBDO Auckland


Whilst children’s brains are developing, mindless screen time directly correlates with an increase in multiple behavioural and mental wellbeing issues, such as increase in anxiety, addictive behaviours and a decrease in attention span, social skills, physical activity and quality of sleep. This is why it’s more important than ever to teach our kids how to use tech well, in a way that supports learning, but doesn’t interfere with their development into happy healthy humans.

As New Zealand’s leading Telco, Spark wanted to help parents raise the next digital generation of Kiwis by helping to restore screen time balance in the home and create opportunities for the family to have positive conversations about screen time use.

In partnership with Gilbert Rugby, Nakatomi, and child psychologist Dr Emma Woodward, Spark, developed a smart ball that helps families balance screen time with active playtime. Minute for minute. Custom built techware inside the ball tracks every minute that it’s active. The ball then syncs with the Play by Spark app, and this active playtime is exchanged for screen time. When screen time is up, the app lets the whole family know through notifications.

Unique modes were designed for both parent and child. So the parent can monitor the child’s screen usage, and set goals, while the child can see how much screen time they have left, and check out their achievements. As a result, the app gamifies active play. Furthermore, through machine learning the smart ball can tell the child how many float passes, spin passes, place kicks, drop kicks or punts they have clocked up.

70 smart balls were custom built for a program across New Zealand led by Child Psychologist, Dr Emma Woodward. Over the period of 6 weeks families were given the ball, app and a series of challenges. The brief given to the families was for them to find the right balance of screen time and playtime in their households, and at every step Dr Emma was there to offer tactics and advice.

The program was supported by a fully integrated campaign that prompted the public to get involved, watch the families in Spark’s three part web series, learn balance tactics and help shape the future of Spark Play.

As a result of the campaign, 90% of kids started to become more aware of their screen time usage. 76% of families saw a positive change in their child’s behaviour. 44% of kids were sleeping better. 35% of our trial kids were self-regulating by the end of the program and this was sustained up to 3 weeks after. Over 2/3 of the kids mentioned that the best thing that they enjoyed about the trial was spending time with their parents.

Play by Spark also caused an increase in brand love, which tracked 25% above the telco category average.


  • SparkClient
  • Senior Digital Producer
  • Andy TimmsCreative Director
  • Anna MarkovaTechnical Lead
  • Ashlee HarrisIntegrated Producer
  • Becki SewellDesigner
  • Cameron MccollContent Creator
  • Cara SzaboProject Manager
  • Charlie GodinetSenior Art Director
  • Codee MacdonaldArt Director
  • Emad TahtouhDirector Of Technology
  • Emma WoodwardChild Psychologist
  • Frith Wilson-hughesChapter Lead, Digital Performance & Social
  • Garrick HammCreative Director
  • Gerardine TurneyPhotographer's Producer
  • Hamish PainLead Developer
  • Hannah BayBrand Lead Partner
  • Jason BudgenVisualiser
  • Jason KingRetoucher
  • Jin FelletBusiness Manager
  • Joe CarterCommunications Director
  • Kim BaldwinsonPost Producer
  • Lakshman AnandanayagamPost Director
  • Lizzie MccollumCx Strategist
  • Luke HaighEditor
  • Luke UrquhartEditor
  • Mark AlbistonDirector
  • Mark NicholsBook Design
  • Mark ToseyProduction
  • Matt BarnesHead Of Digital
  • Natasha GillHead Of Tv
  • Patrick BarnesHardware Engineer
  • Patrick KilleenAnimator
  • Paul De GrootElectronics Engineer
  • Payton CoxTv Producer
  • Pete CircuittAnimation & Vfx Supervisor
  • Piers BebbingtonManaging Partner
  • Renata GordonGroup Business Director
  • Richard WilliamsWriting
  • Rob Graves-morrisSenior Copywriter
  • Ryan BirdIllustrator
  • Shane TaipariSound Design
  • Shelley Farthing-daweDOP
  • Tennille BarnesHead Of Digital Production
  • Tom BremnerDeveloper
  • Troy GoodallPhotographer
  • * Dean PomfrettHead Of Design
  • * Colenso BBDO
  • * Sarah WilliamsTribe Lead Brand Experience
  • * Scott ChapmanHead Of Integrated Production
  • * Nick WorthingtonCreative Chairman
  • * Levi SlavinChief Creative Officer
  • * Ryan ButterfieldSenior Business Director
  • * Mike DavisonCreative Director
  • * Dan WrightGroup Executive Creative Director
  • * Ning ZhuSenior Business Director
  • * Pete RitchieColourist
Annual 2020 BronzePlayAdvertising: TV Annual 2020 BronzePlayWave Annual 2020 ShortlistPlayDigital Project featured: on 2nd September 2020 Contributor:

Colenso BBDO has been a Contributor since 21st March 2018.

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