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Talking makes you stronger - that's what our work with Vodafone and Childline demonstrated to three quarters of all 8-10 year-olds in Ireland.




Ireland, a country of 4.7m people, can be dependent on NGO non-profit organisations for the joint delivery of many public services, including education and child welfare. This makes ISPCC Childline a critical listening service for children. Open 24-hours, it manages over 1,000 direct contacts every day, helping to resource children through encouragement and ways of developing greater resilience.

Childline research highlighted that 8-10 year olds were making far less contact than older age groups. They saw the importance of having someone there to listen, but they weren’t turning to Childline. Vodafone wanted to help change this situation by appealing more to this younger group, and by meeting a clear objective: To provide support to Childline to ensure that EVERY Irish child could be heard.

We therefore created a campaign where children could be heard on their own terms and begin talking in their own individual ways. Through exploring the lives of Irish 8-10 year olds we could see them in the middle of complex social, technological, and personal change: Over the last decade, through talking more, Ireland has begun to deal with big societal issues (e.g. in the debates around abortion and same-sex marriage referenda). These bigger adult conversations mean the idea of ‘normal’ is changing rapidly - giving kids a lot to process, but not always the means to have their own say about their own world New technology has given kids more access to entertainment and information, but again less opportunity to talk. Confusing and complicated personal change also sees kids tuning into their own emotions, as well as those of others, but struggling to describe their feelings.

Unlocking this language and gaining parents’ encouragement was key, particularly when adults might see Childline as only for crises and potentially an outside threat.


Ireland is full of storytellers, but Irish children, the heroes of our story, often can’t find the space or the words to express themselves - particularly when they feel mad, bad or simply sad. Vodafone and Childline had come together to help these children find their voice, so we designed a campaign to remind everyone, both youngsters and the grown-ups around them, that TALKING MAKES US STRONGER.

For those moments where kids find it difficult to talk and their feelings are a bit messy, we invented a name – ‘Headbomz’. Then we created a fun and playful world, through media, where kids could defeat their Headbomz by sharing them with lots of people. By being practical, playful, and using language that children easily understand, the campaign encouraged youngsters to talk through tough times, but also helped parents and teachers understand how best to enable the conversation.

To scale our core idea and to properly build the platform of ‘Talking Makes us Stronger’ we had to push media creativity, but without compromising practicality. 

Knowing that the best way of learning is through play and that children love new and different things, our approach was to tap into this world of playful variety by using both new and existing media touchpoints. We produced a portrait of an Irish childhood; identifying what kids love to do and turning these things into concrete media connection moments. This allowed kids to fully interact with the Headbomz message (delivered by Vodafone and Childline). By bringing Headbomz to life, we:

  • engaged our primary audience of kids in an exciting, interesting way
  • gave kids (and the adults who care for them) the means to start talking.

Bursting onto screens and into song, we introduced the Headbomz characters through online video and TV, with our irresistibly catchy (available to buy) Headbomz tune animated in a commercial and full-length video. Gross, and slightly naughty, the characters, and their message, got kids’ attention.

Turning attention into awareness we then grew engagement in ways that appealed to kids, but still involved adults:

  • On World Mental Health Day we published and distributed our Headbomz book, ‘Wreckin’ Your Head’ (written specially for 8-10 year olds)
  • School and video read-a-longs were organised with the book’s author. 
  • A Headbomz school teaching pack went out to Irish primary schools
  • We celebrated and normalised talking through radio partnerships
  • Campaign ambassadors recalled their own Headbomz, including YouTube influencers and the Irish rugby team
  • From hats to bookmarks to stickers to posters and more we encouraged kids to share their Headbomz across over twenty different touchpoints.


Create awareness

  • Three-quarters of 8-10s (73% prompted) aware of Childline message - 40,000 for the first time
  • Spontaneous awareness quadrupled from 3% to 12%
  • Doubled awareness of sponsorship among adults with kids in target age.

Efficiently targetted, effective media

  • 65% recognition of Headbomz campaign (8- 10yrs)
  • High online ad recall - 40% recall on YouTube (best in class for Irish charity)

Changed attitudes around Childline

  • More than doubled the number of 8-10s open to contacting Childline from 14% to 35% - from lowest to highest of any age group 
  • Strong adult approval of the sponsorship led to much improved brand KPIs

Got kids talking

  • 1 in 4 Irish 8-10 year olds received a copy of ‘Wreckin’ your Head’ book
  • 20% of primary schools requested Headbomz packs
  • 70% increase in Google search traffic for‘ Childline number’
  • Increase in YOY calls from 8-10 year olds quoting Headbomz