The Hive’s Bicycle Factory integrated campaign for Cadbury Canada, which turns UPC codes from Cadbury products into bicycles shipped to Africa, is speeding along in its second year, with a documentary focused on its impact upon schoolchildren in Ghana airing this Saturday on Canadian broadcaster CTV.
The doc, Wheels of Change, was conceptualized by The Hive and fully sponsored by Cadbury Canada. Produced by Toronto’s Frantic Films with the assistance of Alexandre Trudeau and Booker Sims of Montreal’s JuJu Films, the 45-minute special, launched at a media event this week, is the latest spoke in the campaign that the Toronto-based creative agency first presented to Cadbury in May of 2008. The idea – to transform lives in Africa by transforming Cadbury UPC codes into bicycles. One hundred codes would equal one ‘virtual’ bike.
In April, 2009, the Bicycle Factory was officially launched, featuring a website providing a real-time digital interface for consumers to chart the ‘building’ of the bikes via the UPC codes. John Phillipson, VP chocolate, North America and head of marketing for Cadbury Canada, says 500,000 entries were received in total, resulting in 5,000 bikes being built and shipped to Ghana. From there, it was a matter of collaborating with numerous NGOs active in the area, including WorldVision, CARE and Cadbury’s own U.N.-supported Cadbury Cocoa Partnership, to find out who would need – and use – the bikes the most.
‘We at Cadbury have a pretty storied history with Ghana that goes back 100 years,’ Phillipson says, regarding the campaign’s origins. ‘So we started wondering if there was a sweet spot there. Is there a way to actually build a sustainable model by incenting consumers to buy our products? So that was the brief – we’d actually like to give back.’
Simon Creet, VP and chief creative officer at The Hive, says once the campaign took off in its first year, the idea to document not only its success but its impact seemed like a logical next step. Given the nature of the subject matter, Creet says much care was taken to make sure that even though the doc would be a sponsored film, it would be ‘relevant, transparent and super-authentic.’
‘We started looking for documentary filmmakers who had the credibility and wouldn’t just do what we told them but would bring their own point of view,’ he says. ‘We found a very complex dynamic. It’s not just ‘plunk the bikes there and everything’s better.”
‘The Hive came to us saying we should look at the impact [of the campaign] through the lens of documentary, by documenting the stories of the lives of these people in a way that a 30 second ad can’t do,’ says Aditi Burman, senior marketing manager, total confectionary for Cadbury Canada. ‘We bought it at the end of the day because of the passion behind it.’
Creet says getting broadcaster CTV on board was just one of many fortuitous events surrounding the documentary. CTV approached Cadbury about becoming involved in Free the Children’s Canadian WE Day events, and it was deemed that the story told in the doc, and the work done through the Bicycle Factory campaign, ‘mirrored the exact kind of change that they were trying to inspire Canadian youth to get involved in,’ says Creet.
The film follows the stories of three young people, Isaac, Philip and Elizabeth, who received bicycles in the campaign’s first year. For a child in Ghana, education can be an arduous necessity, with walks to schools taking two hours each way in some villages. Thus, as Burman states, ‘Having a bike can make the difference between going to school and not going to school.’ The film also features narrator Bob Dawuni, a native of Ghana originally hired by Frantic to serve as a local fixer on the project, but who then contributed his own personal story regarding his appointment as the chief of his village.
Frantic Films’ executive producer Jeff Peeler says the budget for the project was ‘on par with what you might get for a one-off documentary… It was healthily funded and we were able to set out to do what we wanted to do.’ A three-person filming crew, including Trudeau as creative producer, was embedded with the families taking part, and while representatives from The Hive and Cadbury, as well as other Frantic staff, took the trip to Ghana, steps were taken to make sure that the filming process was as unobtrusive as possible.
‘I think all of us went to set once because we wanted to preserve the integrity of what we were doing and get to know these people without the hoopla,’ says Peeler.
As for editorial control, Peeler says ‘there were no bumps in the road…
Early on, Cadbury trusted the Hive and the Hive trusted us, and we, in turn, respected what we were hired to do,’ he says.
Creet and Peeler say plans are afoot to enter the film into assorted festivals in the year ahead, and Burman adds that CTV is interested in airing it again in 2011. As for The Bicycle Factory, currently in its second year as a campaign, it will extend into Year Three next spring. Phillipson says Cadbury Canada has presented the idea to its UK and Australian counterparts with hopes that the campaign could blaze a trail internationally.
‘We made a conscious decision midway through the first year to build it as a property,’ he says. ‘We want to grow it locally, and would love to grow it globally.’
‘Wheels of Change’ airs on CTV this Saturday at 2PM EST.