Campaign Spotlight: Spark Introduces a Smart Rugby Ball with Colenso BBDO to Create Balance Between Active and Online Playtime


Kiwi children are facing an upbringing that is increasingly dominated by technology – the struggle to find balance in today’s fast-paced environment is an ongoing challenge for New Zealand families.

In partnership with Gilbert Rugby, Nakatomi, child psychologist Dr Emma Woodward and Colenso BBDO, Spark is developing a Bluetooth-enabled smart rugby ball to help families achieve a healthy balance of screen time and active playtime. The product is currently a prototype, with a New Zealand trial underway with local families.

Play by Spark (Full-Length)

“Technology is not bad, it’s how we use it that might be corrosive,” says Dr Woodward. “Play by Spark aims to help Kiwi families teach their children important self-regulation skills from a young age and become more mindful with their technology use.”

Custom built techware inside the ball –  including a gyroscope and accelerometer -tracks minutes of active playtime. The ball connects to an App that converts this to a screen time allowance, sending an alert to parents when this time runs out.


“Technology is part of everyday life and we want to help children grow up developing positive digital habits. At Spark, we’re working to equip parents with the right tools – like this smart ball and app – so that technology is part of the solution,” says Spark’s Brand Experience Tribe Lead, Sarah Williams

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Over a trial period, selected New Zealand families are putting the prototype ball to the test by taking on a series of challenges designed by Dr Woodward. The ball data captured during the trial will teach Spark even more about playtime, and inform the development of Play by Spark.

“Our children are facing a very different future to what we thought we would face so it’s important that we teach them the skills that they need in order for them to thrive and fulfil their potential. Spark are keen to support families so children develop healthy tech habits,” says Dr Woodward. 

Play by Spark launched with a TV spot that sees young Toby approach the conversation of balance with his favourite computer game character.

“It was important for us to look at this from a child’s point of view. It’s a big deal for kids. They care about the characters in their games, but they also get the need for balance. We love the idea that Play by Spark can actually give kids more control over their screen time, even while it’s doing the same for their parents,” says Dan Wright, Executive Creative Director at Colenso BBDO.

The campaign will also appear across OOH, social and digital. Future plans, including any potential release to the public, will be determined once the results of the trial come in next year. 



Client: Spark

Agency: Colenso BBDO

Partners: Gilbert Rugby, Nakatomi, Dr Emma Woodward

Production Partner: Sweetshop

Director: Mark Albiston

Animation: Pete Circuit

Post Production: Creature

Sound: Franklin Rd

Photography: Troy Goodall

Media: PHD

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