Ohio University Strategic Social Media

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Sharpie: Leaving its Mark as a Social Media Win

by Kate Kendall

Sharpie Uncapping Creativity in their Uncap What's Inside Campaign

Sharpie Uncapping Creativity in their Uncap What’s Inside Campaign

Sharpie, created in 1964, is a permanent craft and utility marker. Beginning in 2009 and continuing through 2013, Sharpie created the “Uncap What’s Inside” campaign that was communicated throughout every major social media site, targeting teens and DIY crafters encouraging creativity and self-expression.

When Ad Age did an interview with Sally Grimes, the VP-global marketing of office products at Newell Rubermaid, Ms. Grimes spoke about the opportunity that the brand had because of its advantage of 97% brand awareness. Because people already knew the brand, the plan was to create a campaign that displayed the creative opportunities that customers had even during a recession.

With the tag line “Uncap what’s inside,” Sharpie asked its consumers to push the boundaries of creativity and share the ways that they use the iconic marker on social media. Not only did they engage their consumers by making them a part of the campaign, they provided the tools for creativity in the form of a blog and through their Instagram account.

At the start of the campaign, Sharpie revamped their entire online presence, starting with their website, making it bright and colorful as well as adding tabs that display “Sharpie Creations” and “My Sharpie” creating a community directly on their web page.

On Facebook, Sharpie successfully incorporated user generate content right along with its product promotions and sponsored posts. Linking videos advertising their new products and videos and posts about DIY crafts alongside pictures and posts of user content solidified the strength of this campaign on its strongest social media outlet with more than 4 million likes to the page, and multiple shares on nearly every post.

With Twitter, Sharpie revamped the online background multiple times throughout the campaign, maintaining the pursuit of creativity through Sharpie. Using the hashtags, #sharpie and #uncapwhatsinside, Sharpie was able to engage its nearly 200,000 followers not only with crafts, but through events trending on social media at the time, including the VMAs and the Teen Choice Awards. It also helped it consumers connect with the company and share their Sharpie related thoughts, photos and videos.

On Instagram, Sharpie created a community of creative consumers allowing them to share their own talents as well as view other user’s creativity.Because Sharpies are a visual tool, this was one of the smartest social media outlets that Sharpie used during the campaign. With 110,000 followers on Instagram, at a time when Instagram was not as widely used as it is today, shows how Sharpie was able to connect with its target market of young trend setters and creative minds.

During the duration of this campaign, the engagement of Sharpie users in a community-like forum and the content that was produced by both Sharpie and its consumers is why I believe that this was a social media win. Sharpie also skillfully used multiple social media platforms expertly and continued to do so throughout the campaign.

The largest improvement that I would make on this campaign is to continue it and develop it as it apparently stopped suddenly. It seemed as though Sharpie had a rather loyal following of users and tons of content to work with, but posts and interactions on social media stop around 2013. I believe that this campaign was much too strong to just fall off the face of the earth like it did. If Sharpie makes a comeback and starts using social media platforms in the same innovative way that it did during its campaign it could once again be a social media win.

Auto artist makes his mark with Sharpies. (2010, Sept. 16). Chicago Tribune. http://articles.chicagotribune.com/2010-09-16/classified/sc-cons-0916-sharpie-artist-20100916_1_auto-artist-lamborghini-painting

Cameron, Mark. (2013). How Sharpie Is Making Its Mark on Social Media. The Social Media Monthly. http://thesocialmediamonthly.com/how-sharpie-is-making-its-mark-on-social-media/

Levere, Jane L. (2011, July 26). A Sharpie Campaign, Aimed at Teenagers, Urges Self-Expression. New York Times. http://www.nytimes.com/2011/07/27/business/media/sharpie-aims-a-new-campaign-at-teenagers.html?pagewanted=all&_r=0

Miley, Marissa. (2009, June 25). How Sharpie Is Staying Loyal to Print While Getting Into Social Media. Advertising Age. http://adage.com/article/cmo-strategy/advertising-sharpie-sticks-print-social-media/137584/

Reid, Tim. (2012, Aug 16). “Sharpie parties” Fuel Rampage on Foreclosed Homes. ChicagoTribune. http://articles.chicagotribune.com/2012-08-16/news/sns-rt-us-usa-housing-vandalsbre87f0g2-20120816_1_sharpie-online-invitations-social-media

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