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Samsung's Look At Me Campaign: A Case Study in Empowering Autism Communication

Samsung's Look at Me campaign aimed to address the challenges faced by millions of children with autism who struggle to make eye contact during social interactions. By leveraging its technology, Samsung embarked on this campaign with the hope of making a meaningful difference in the lives of these children and their families.


Context

In South Korea, the cost of autism treatment is high, and limited access to treatment options makes it challenging for families with autistic children. Many parents of autistic children feel stigmatized and tend to keep their children's condition hidden. Consequently, a significant number of autistic children go without early intervention.


Objectives

The primary goal of the Look at Me campaign was to create a free, personalized, and readily available treatment method. This approach aimed to eliminate the need for parents and children to visit expensive treatment centers or endure long waiting times for appropriate therapies.


Target Audience

The campaign focused on parents of autistic children who were already familiar with high-tech solutions, primarily Samsung products. The chosen channel for engagement was mobile devices, based on the insight that autistic children often enjoy interacting with digital technology.


Strategy

Before launching the campaign, extensive research was conducted to understand what would engage autistic children. The research revealed that these children respond well to digital devices. Consequently, Samsung developed the world's first interactive camera-based application, designed to help children improve their social skills. Using Samsung smartphones, the company created a user-friendly, entertaining app through which children could interact with others. Samsung also collaborated with doctors, experts, and app developers to create seven tasks aimed at enhancing eye contact and communication skills.


Clinical trials showed promising results, with up to 60% of children improving their eye contact skills and 40% enhancing their emotional expression.


Action Plan


Lộ trình thử nghiệm lâm sàng


Implementation

The campaign was launched on a microsite and various online media platforms. It included PR efforts, short advertising films on YouTube and social media, and longer versions on Samsung's official channels. The app was made available for download on Google Play.


Following a successful initial launch, the campaign expanded to television and major online news outlets, both locally and globally.


Results

The clinical trials yielded impressive results, with up to 60% of participating children improving their eye contact skills and 40% enhancing their emotional expression.


The free app was initially released in South Korea and Canada and later globally in December 2014. Within a week, it became one of the most downloaded apps in the "Education" category. It ranked third in the UK, fourth in the US, and fifth in Brazil (as of December 30). The app garnered significant downloads and media coverage.

  • App: Over 10,000 downloads on Google Play

  • Film (short version): 566 likes / 92,500 views

  • Film (long version): 296 likes / 57,563 views

  • Film (short version in South Korea): 79 likes / 9,904 views

  • Film (long version in South Korea): 73 likes / 5,342 views

  • Media Coverage: Extensive global coverage in publications such as Adage, Campaign Brief, Adobo Magazine, AdWeek, Digital Buzz Log, Campaign US, PSFK, Luerzers Archive, Engadget, and Daily Mail. In South Korea, it was featured in Herald Economy, Etoday, Weekly Chosun, Hankyoreh21, and more.

Evaluation

Overall, the Look at Me program demonstrated improvements in decoding emotions and accuracy in emotional expression among children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD). While the clinical trial results were encouraging, the program continues to undergo research with a larger sample size encompassing diverse forms of autism before reaching conclusive results. Nevertheless, many experts agree that the program is heading in the right direction.


"60% of the children participating in the program showed improvement in their eye contact skills. They can also identify their emotions more easily. The program will help many autistic children enhance their awareness and express a wider range of emotions." - Kyong-Mee Chung, Professor at Yonsei University

"The program seems to have achieved quite impressive results. The idea is excellent, and I was surprised to hear about such a program on a mobile phone. Choosing a smartphone camera for the program is a perfect choice. The results partly support the theory of Baron Cohen, a professor at the University of Cambridge, which suggests teaching autistic children by imagining real images in their heads to reduce/eliminate cognitive deficits." - Hae Ri Kim, Professor of Psychology at Chung Buk National University


"This program symbolizes three-dimensional communication (autistic children - camera - parents). Generally, modern devices primarily encourage one-way interaction between the user and the device. However, this program helps autistic children interact with others. The program's name is 'look at me,' but it not only improves eye contact but also encourages autistic children to interact and communicate with others." - Hee Jeong Yoo, Professor of Psychology and Behavioral Science at the National University of Seoul


In conclusion, Samsung's Look at Me campaign has made significant strides in addressing the communication challenges faced by children with autism. By leveraging technology and innovative thinking, Samsung has taken a step in the right direction toward improving the lives of these children and their families.

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