Kids Get Play in Concept Farm, PFI Ads

NEW YORK A new flight of “Verb” spots by The Concept Farm and PFI break this week and aim to encourage African-American kids to use their most important recreational equipment when playing outdoors: their imagination.

Three spots, created for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, show urban children playing the games they have invented at their local playground. At Meca Park in Houston, a group of kids play hip-hopscotch. (Instead of putting numbers in the hopscotch boxes, they write in dance moves.)

At Lafayette Park in Los Angeles, the kids play a combination of kickball and basketball, or KB Ball. In Miami, they play marco water polo, a game that combines the aquatic hide-and-seek game marco polo with water polo and diving.

“We knew we were dealing with an audience that might have limited resources,” said David Price, president of PFI in New York. He added that while mainstream ads from Saatchi & Saatchi may feature skateboarding and hockey, city kids might not have the resources or environment to engage in those activities.

“We wanted to motivate the kids to use what they have, the resources in their neighborhood, but most importantly their imagination,” said Price.

PFI has partnered with The Concept Farm in New York to deliver “Verb” spots since 2001, when the program was first funded, Price said. PFI developed the strategy, and The Concept Farm executed the creative.

The partnership traveled to the featured cities and created the hybrid games with the children that play there, said Gregg Wasiak, Concept Farm director. “Each playground has its own personality,” Wasiak said. Game rules had to be adapted to fit each environment, he noted.

For most games, “all you need is your imagination, a piece of chalk and a ball,” Wasiak said.

The spots begin airing in Houston, Miami, New York and North Carolina on regional cable, including Nickelodeon and BET. The work will run through the end of the year.