This was the second full year of the START campaign, which aims to empower and support parents in making healthier choices for their family and to help maintain a healthy weight for children. In light of new research, it was apparent that Irish families struggled with how many treats they were giving their children. The challenge was treating is a highly complex and emotive issue for parents. Our task was to create a campaign that successfully convinced Irish parents to reduce the availability, frequency and quantity of treats they give to their children.


A key observation from the safefood research was that parents are the primary treaters of children and allow regular treating on a daily/several times a week basis. Parents want to be loved by their child which is a primary reason they treat their children so frequently, however when prompted parents will prioritise the health and wellbeing of their child ahead of everything else even if they are perceived as unpopular by their children. There is a clear tension and duality for parents in showing their child that they really care.


'It takes a hero to be the bad guy'. Parents occupy duel roles – sometimes they’re the heroes their kids look up to, other times they’re the bad guys who have to say ‘no’.

Unfortunately, when it comes to treats, it can be tough for parents to say no. The idea was to make parents see that not always giving in to their kids’ sugar demands doesn’t make them bad parents. That being the hero in the long run for the good of their kids’ health means being the bad guy that says no to treats today. We wanted to give them permission to be this hero, by empowering them to be the bad guy.


To ensure the message was relevant in the lives of Irish parents we engaged with parents at every stage of campaign development: information gathering, co-creation sessions, creative testing etc. This ensured our message was recognisable to all Irish parents and directly reflected the daily challenges they face in managing and reducing the treats their kids eat.

It takes a hero to be the bad guy safefood

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