Vodafone Channels the Rhythms of Rap Music to Help Kids Who Stutter

DDB & Tribal Amsterdam drops a beat

To help kids who stutter, Vodafone developed “Get the Flow,” a free Android app that channels the rhythm and flow of rap music. The European network provider worked with DDB & Tribal Amsterdam on the project, part of its broader “Powerful Connections” program that shows technology improving people’s lives.

“Stuttering holds these kids back from communicating, so it felt really relevant for a telecommunications company to do something about this problem,” agency creative director Ed van Bennekom tells us.

Bestselling Dutch recording artist Sanne Hans, who stutters, helped create the app, and she appears in the video below. Rappers Broederliefde, Sevn Alias, Kevin, Soufiane Eddyani and Jairzinho also contributed, with lyrics doubling as speech exercises—including tongue twisters and alliterations that are tough for stutterers to pronounce.

About 5 percent of children in the Netherlands stutter. That’s roughly one kid in every classroom. In the clip, we meet one such youngster—12-year-old Mitchell Jonk from Volendam—who practices with Vodafone’s “Get the Flow” app and even duets in the studio with hip-hop star Ali B:

“Rapping makes it easier to coordinate the speech movement from the brain,” van Bennekom says. “Rap provides guidance, a rhythm, a flow, and you increase your vocabulary, which really helps children who stutter. We found out that there aren’t a lot of fun stutter therapies for children of this age, so we immediately had the feeling that this could be a great way to help these children.”

DDB & Tribal worked closely with the Dutch Stuttering Federation “to get input for the stutter exercises, but also to find children who wanted to participate,” van Bennekom says. “We wanted to tell a story of a boy who stutters very heavily and had some rough times because of his stutter. We found him through his own stutter therapist, who convinced him that this could really help him with his self-esteem. He was the first to use the app, working towards the end level—record the ultimate tongue-twister rap, which is the final level of the exercises.”

Youngsters can use the app’s exercises to rap together in real time, sharing a fun learning experience as they give each other encouragement and forge deeper bonds.

“Many of these children also spend a lot of time texting on their phones instead of talking to each other directly—in this way, they don’t practice their speech skills,” says van Bennekom. “We wanted to use their phones to actually do something about their stutter.”

Social Brand Manager: Xavi Feliu
Brand Engagement Specialist: Joke van Griensven

DDB & Tribal Worldwide, Amsterdam
Creative Director: Ed van Bennekom
Creative Director: Jasper Diks
Digital Director: Jesse Mons
Executive Producer: Sophie van Pelt
Business Director: Esther te Pas
Strategy Director: Ralf Hesen
Designer: Esmée Lechner
UX Designer: Joris Groot
Motion & Graphic Designer: Marco kruk
Design Director: Keith Kornson

D.O.P.: Erwan van Buuren
Offline editor: Pelle Asselbergs
Online editor: Tim van Paassen, The Compound
Sound design: Reinder van Zalk, Earforce
Music: Cris Kos, Cris&Jeff Music
Music: Ali B, Ali B

Technical Director: Tijmen Mulder
Developer: Jorrit van Ditshuizen
Developer: Patrick van der Werf
Developer: Niels Filmer
Producer: Iris Schultheiss

@DaveGian davegia@hotmail.com David Gianatasio is a longtime contributor to Adweek, where he has been a writer and editor for two decades. Previously serving as Adweek's New England bureau chief and web editor, he remains based in Boston.