BBC: The Square Eyed Boy campaign

Entrant: BBC Creative; Category: In-house Campaigns

The brief for this campaign was to increase the perceived value and usefulness of the BBC brand through the BBC’s children’s services. Recognising the scale of the cultural conversation around children and screen time, BBC Creative saw an opportunity to go beyond an ad campaign and build on the BBC as a public service to deliver a message to parents.

Managing kids’ screen time is a pressing concern for parents, but it is a contentious debate that needs nuance. While many parents feel concerned about their child’s relationship with screens, they still see value in them. A BBC survey conducted in 2023 as part of its Children and Education campaign reveals that 79% of parents report an increase in their kids’ screen usage post-pandemic, and 67% are concerned about what kids are watching.

This is happening at a time of industry-wide threats to investment in children’s educational content and an increased reliance on less-regulated alternatives. The campaign set to shift the debate towards screen quality and deliver a positive message to parents about BBC content, reinforcing its benefits and reminding them that it can be a great tool for learning.

Created in collaboration with production company Blinkink and director Sam Gainsborough, the ad is inspired by the age-old saying, ‘You’ll get square eyes’, and introduces viewers to a young boy whose eyes have seemingly transformed into square shapes due to his use of screens. It weaves together a thought-provoking narrative with expertly crafted puppetry and stop-motion animation to tackle judgments surrounding screen usage.

As the story unfolds, audiences are taken on a journey that challenges preconceived notions, highlighting how screens, when paired with quality content, can benefit children in many ways, such as learning, discovering, widening perspective, and even encouraging outdoor activities. By challenging this outdated saying, the film offers a new perspective: maybe screens don’t give you square eyes and can actually make you well rounded.

Agency: BBC Creative
ECD: Rasmus Smith Bech
Head of Production: James Wood
Creative Director: Mark Flack
Creatives: Shannon Cripps, Bethany Wood
Producer: Rachel Roberts
Project Manager: Phoebe Brewer
Senior Planner: Kris Jalowiecki
Production Coordinator: Hannah Stothard
Production Company: Blinkink
Director: Sam Gainsborough
Executive Producer: Bart Yates
Producer: Rebecca Little
DOP: Ronnie McQuillan
Art Director: Gordon Allen