Houghton Mifflin Harcourt this summer hit the road with the Curious World Tour, a mobile experience designed to inspire kids with a love of learning through playful, hands-on activities, story times and appearances by its beloved character, the perky primate named Curious George, who turns 75 this year. The tour, which launched in Brooklyn and traveled to Texas and California, is the publisher’s first foray onto the national scene with such an endeavor, and according to results, was worth the effort. It attracted more than 15,000 kids and their parents, as many as 2,000 a day who lined up to meet the colorful character and participate in the engagements. The company’s microsite, has seen a three percent increase in followers and 70 percent increase in engagement throughout the summer.
“We wanted to make sure we were doing something unique to HMH that represented who we are as a company, and the different products that we have for children and families both in the classroom and at home,” says Andrew Russell, director of corporate responsibility at HMH.
In partnership with the Association of Children’s Museums and the Ultimate Block Party, an organization that promotes the importance of play in children’s lives, the idea behind the tour was born—that children’s brains develop best when they are actively engaged. At each stop, a bright blue truck, based on HMH’s popular “Little Blue Truck” series, offers interactive, educational activities that also tie in with HMH’s new mobile content service, the Curious World App, which offers learning videos, books and games for children ages two to seven, which is the target demographic for the tour.
The tour begins at the Curious World HQ with a giant map featuring videos of children saying “hello” in multiple languages and adventure leaders who greet the kids and give them a Curiosity Log to help them plan and document their journey. Among the stations: Story Camp, a tented library where kids can sit on tree-trunk stools for story time; Community Garden, where kids can engage in food-learning exercises and plant seeds in a pot they decorate and can take home; and Space Station, where kids can make alien puppets, build space shuttles and learn about constellations in rocket ship Light Brites. A Jungle Jamboree offers a play area with an open stage for Curious George appearances, and #SparkAMind Color the World is a collaborative mural where kids can express their artistic side. Take-home materials for parents explain what the kid learned so the education can continue at home.
“It’s a rich environment for kids to roll up their sleeves and have fun,” Russell says. Agency: LeadDog Marketing Group, New York City.