TXTBKS in the Philippines

Smart’s TXTBKS project in the Philippines has been awarded the Grand Prix in the Mobile category at Cannes International Festival of Creativity. The project was set up to provide access to digital versions of text books for children who can’t afford tablets and e-readers. In developed countries, tablets and e-readers have become the solution to large, heavy textbooks. But for Philippine public schools students, even the cheapest model is worth more than what their families make in a month. In fact, the only gadgets most own are one or two old analog mobiles phones, used mainly for texting. This is tragic because they’re the ones who need a textbook alternative the most. Kids as young as seven must bring up to 22 books daily, leaving them exhausted and unfocused even before their first class—and in many documented cases, afflicted with scoliosis.

TXTBKS Classroom

Smart, the Philippines’ largest telecommunications company, took their mission to “make text light and easy” further than ever through Smart TXTBKS. Over six months, the project team collaborated with respected textbook authors and publishers to refine official school texts into 160-character messages. These were then programmed into the inboxes of thousands of inactive surplus sim cards. Which were then repackaged into new Smart TXTBKS. So it turned even the oldest analog phones into a new type of e-reader. And old text sim cards into a new brand of textbook.

The Smart TXTBKS project was launched in partner schools that needed it most. Three months later this simple—and, in fact, low-tech—solution had made a profound sustainable impact. With school bags 50% lighter, attendance was 95%, while average test performance was 90% during implementation. With petitions and pledges from schools, families, and education sector members, TXTBKS is going even further, with plans underway for more subjects and grade levels; kits so schools can reproduce as many TXTBKS as they need for free; and a roll-out across the Philippines.


The TXTBKS campaign was developed at DDB DM9JaymeSyfu / Digit by chief creative officer Merlee Jayme, executive creative director Eugene Demata, associate creative director/copywriter Aste Gutierrez, associate creative director for digital/programmer and art director Buboy Paguio, art director Biboy Royong, copywriter Aste Gutierrez, account supervisor Alex Syfu, account manager Ina Vargas.

Work at Tower Of Doom was by producer Carlo Perlas and editor Melo Samson.

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