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5 Brands Creating “Online Playgrounds” For Families During COVID

YPulse is carefully monitoring COVID-19’s impact on young consumers and how brands can respond. We’ll be providing new data and insights for you weekly to cope with the crisis, including special reports, exclusive data on Coronavirus and the next generations, and actionable insights on what brands need to be doing now.

You can access everything here on our young consumers and COVID-19 hub.

With shut-in parents and kids cooped up inside, brands are creating “online playgrounds” and changing the landscape of family entertainment…

As quarantine stretches on and the dream of returning to schools and daycares disappears, Millennial parents are desperate to keep their kids entertained. (When they aren’t working or homeschooling them.) Our COVID-19 Special Report on Entertainment shows that staying entertained is one of the top priorities of quarantined young consumers overall, and it’s a major priority for Millennial parents who are buying leisure and educational activities despite tightening budgets elsewhere.  

Cabin fever is real, and it’s creating new trends in entertainment. The gaming and puzzles industry is booming right now, while online streaming services like YouTube and Netflix are seeing an uptick in viewership as kids’ daily screen time surges. And Millennial parents are looking for ideas to keep their families diverted: according to YPulse’s COVID research, 50% would appreciate tips and ideas on how to entertain kids from brands during this time. Now, with toy stores, theme parks, and going to the movies canceled indefinitely, major toy and entertainment companies are stepping in to fill the void with interactive sites. These online “playrooms” and “playgrounds” are filled with games and activities to distract, replicate the magic of in-person experiences—and sometimes educate as well. Here are some of the online hubs that have been created to keep quarantined families occupied, Millennial parents sane, and replace some lost activities for Gen Z kids: 

Disney x #DisneyMagicMoments

Disney parks have closed for only the second time in their history, and the brand is finding ways to move their beloved attractions online. In order for fans to still “experience the magic,” they’ve launched Disney Magic Momentsan interactive site to “fill the void” of closed theme parks and postponed film releases. The hub features pictures and videos of the parks and rides, as well as activities and entertainment like a storytime with Disney stars, the new digital series At Home With Olaf, drawing tutorials, Pixar coloring pages, virtual parades, singalongs, and recipes. They’re also providing timely treats like Zoom backgrounds from Pixar movies, and clips of park musicians performing in their own homes.   


Hasbro x #BringHometheFun 

Did you know you can play Battleship while social distancing? Hasbro’s Bring Home the Fun website features various activities and games that can be enjoyed while in quarantine, including Battleship and other board game classics like Scrabble and Monopoly, as well as activities like Play-Doh crafts and trick shot challenges for Nerf blasters. Kids can get hands-on and DIY thanks to video tutorials for crafts like making masks with Peppa Pig or creating DIY Halloween costumes with the PJ Masks gang. The site also provides resources for parents, including videos from Hasbro employees themselves and articles about how to juggle working remotely while homeschooling kids—advice that YPulse research shows 35% of Millennial parents say they appreciate from brands right now. Their launch coincides with a social media push where parents can use the hashtag #BringHomeTheFun to share their own at-home activities.


Mattel x #KeepPlaying

Meanwhile, in response to the COVID crisis Mattel has launched Mattel Playroom, a digital destination that encourages families to #KeepPlaying with videos and activities featuring their popular brands like Barbie, Hot Wheels, Thomas & Friends, and American Girl. The site is updated daily with printable coloring sheets and puzzles, as well crafting and DIY projects. For the generation being raised on YouTube, the brand has curated bingeable video playlists on YouTube Kids including American Girl’s new ways to play, Barbie Vlogger, stories and stunts from Thomas & Friends, and Hot Wheels’ monster trucks in action. There’s also separate mobile gaming apps that parents can download for kids to continue the adventure on phones or iPads. Mattel Playroom also has parents’ well-being in mind, providing a separate section that has tips for parents and caregivers from the brand’s “Play Experts.”   


Warner Bros. x Harry Potter at Home

Harry Potter is joining Millennials and Gen Z in quarantine. In partnership with author J.K. Rowling and her website Pottermore, Warner Bros has created the new “Harry Potter at Home”—an online space for families and fans who not only need the extra entertainment, but are missing the Wizarding World right now. The hub aims to “bring Hogwarts to you” with a variety of “how to” videos ranging from knitting a Weasley inspired scarf to making Ravenclaw shoelaces and crafting a mini broomstick. Other activities include character and Sorting Hat quizzes, puzzles, and more content that revolves around the franchise. Potterhead newcomers are welcome, with guides provided for first-time readers of the series. While the resource is open to anyone, we’re sure that this will be a hit for the fandom who still consider the franchise a favorite, and are looking for ways to “cast a Banishing Charm on boredom!” 


Sesame Workshop x #CaringforEachOther 

The nonprofit organization behind Sesame Street has launched a new initiative to help kids through this unique time. Sesame Street Workshop describes the Caring for Each Other site as a resource “designed to help parents provide comfort and manage anxiety, as well as help with creating routines, fostering playful learning at home, and staying physically and mentally healthy.” The new site section includes brand new content featuring the Sesame Street characters sharing messages of love and kindness as well as videos on proper hand washing from popular Muppets like Elmo and Cookie Monster, and playful learning activities. The content reflects kids’ realities right now, with Elmo meeting friends on virtual playdates via Zoom—including celebrities like Hamilton’s Lin-Manuel Miranda and Anne Hathaway. Resources to help partners and caregivers are included, with content on explaining the virus and quarantine, self care for parents, wellness tips, and more.