Can crayons make you cry?

Crayons aren’t all that cool anymore. They used to be a staple of childhood and still are, to an extent. But they have been crowded out a bit by markers and pencils and by other forms of media, such as games and iPads.

At the Association of National Advertisers’ 2018 Brand Activation Conference, Crayola’s Director of Marketing Communications, Josh Kroo, discussed how experiential marketing has helped the brand overcome those challenges.  (The article is behind a paywall at WARC.)

Of course, it hasn’t just been experiential marketing.  Crayola has a seemingly never-ending stream of innovations – including products that leverage augmented reality and a line extension into lipstick, via a partnership with Clinique.

However, they also used storytelling to create an emotionally compelling brand experience. The story was built around how Crayola was planning to retire one of its iconic colors. The discussion about which color would be sent to the curb created all kinds of social media buzz, and the brand elicited 90,000 submissions from consumers who wanted to vote on the name of the new color that would replace it.  Some of the colors were given characters and personalities, as well, which amped up the emotional engagement.

The campaign was supported by high-profile out-of-home placements and significant earned media, including Jimmy Fallon and Good Morning America. Ultimately, the campaign was successful in dramatically reversing declining sales of Crayola’s iconic 24-count box.