In China, Nike has been giving out free packs of bandages with purchases of gear for young athletes. The bandages tell kids it's OK to play hard, get hurt and get back out there. And that's a message for overprotective parents, too.
Nike and Wieden & Kennedy Shanghai developed the campaign for Children's Day, celebrated June 1 in China. They created four sets of 14 bandages. Each set comes on a sheet that unfolds, with different shapes of bandages on it.
Creatives realized the bandages looked like the frames of a comic book; they became a medium for telling stories around the theme, "When you play, play hard," said Wieden & Kennedy Shanghai executive creative director Ian Toombs.
The comics use fun, trippy imagery. In one, a skateboarding T-Rex wipes out, hurts his tail, gets taunted by obnoxious monkeys, sheds a tear, slaps on a bandage, tries again and nails it. The other stories are about running, basketball and soccer.
"I love the simplicity of this idea," said Toombs, who moved to China after a two-year sabbatical, and who was previously executive creative director and head of design at Anomaly New York. "It's based on the insight that overprotective parents in China don't want their kids to get hurt playing sports."
Overprotective parents are everywhere, not just in China, and Toombs noted that the idea could work in other markets too. Nike calls the campaign "Badge of Honor." The badges are bandages, but they're also stickers and a storytelling device.
Each set of stickers has a corresponding short animated film, with cameos by cartoon versions of Nike-signed athletes who appear to cheer on the protagonists. The brand's endorsers also mentioned the campaign on social media: Retired tennis star Li Na, still one of China's most popular athletes, posted a photo of herself wearing a bandage on her arm.
Bandages as a medium for storytelling is an idea that seems to be having a moment. Beiersdorf-owned bandages brand Hansaplast also just did a campaign in Belgium with heart-shaped stickers designed to heal emotional wounds.