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Rallying 1.3 million children for the King’s Games

On April 26, 2013 the first ever King’s Games were held: a sports day for all children in primary schools in The Netherlands.
Rallying 1.3 million children for the King’s Games
Hill+Knowlton Strategies was responsible for informing and convincing more than 7,000 schools, with in sum over a million children, to participate. We only had 6 weeks to inform, convince and rally schools and pupils. Within these 6 weeks 1.3 million children in primary schools across the country were mobilized to simultaneously start the day with a ‘King’s Breakfast’ and to play the King’s Games. The games were held on the occasion of the enthronement of King Willem- Alexander.

In January of 2013, former Queen Beatrix of the Netherlands surprisingly announced her abdication, which was to take place on April 30 of the same year, for the benefit of her son prince Willem-Alexander. For the occasion of the inauguration of King Willem-Alexander, former tennis player Richard Krajicek thought up the King’s Games: A Sports Day and a festive Breakfast for all children in primary schools. Target was at least 5,000 schools participating with six weeks to go from idea to event. The challenge: the crammed agenda’s of these primary schools needed to be adjusted to this new reality – and it was up to the school managers themselves whether they would participate or not.

Hill+Knowlton Strategies set up and implemented the communication strategy, communicating to the schools the impact and ways to implement and rallying children and teachers alike to participate. Each school was free to decide if it participated and what form the King's Games should have. Hill+Knowlton focused on this freedom in the communication outreach by providing inspirational ideas and by facilitating the sharing of ideas between schools, sports clubs and communities. This mitigated one of the biggest threats: that schools would start criticizing the organization for notifying them so late without organizational support. That worked.

Hill+Knowlton developed the strategic outlines, storyline and website (including online strategy), coordinated media outreach and requests and communicated with participating schools via E-newsletters, Facebook and Twitter. We also coordinated the media during the opening of The Games by the Royal couple itself. And we purposed a national kick-off moment in the form of a song and dance which was practiced by all children and performed at all schools at the same time.

The King’s Games were the biggest event of 2013 after the coronation itself.  Over 1.3 million children participated at 6,500 primary schools (86%). All participating schools received the breakfast for free as well as T-shirts and certificates for the kids, provided by diverse Dutch companies. Hill+Knowlton coordinated the media outreach with these partners which led to visibility for their company as well. King Willem-Alexander and the organization would like the King’s Games to become a tradition. A survey among participating schools shows that over 80% of the schools will participate again in 2014.