Sharpie is an American manufacturer of writing instruments, specifically their permanent markers, whose products are sold in over 20 countries. Originally a name designating a single permanent marker, the Sharpie brand has been widely expanded and currently holds 89% of their industries market share.
Today, Sharpie shows appreciation for self-expression and uniqueness. Since 2011, Sharpie has been running a Back-to-School campaign, which urges consumers to “Start Something” with their products. The campaign includes print media, television, and internet advertisements that highlight consumers taking ordinary products and decorating them with Sharpie pens. Contestants are able to submit anything from a drawing on a paper to home décor. This campaign is also seen on social media (such as Instagram and Facebook), which allows easier access for Sharpie fans to share their art. This campaign is directed towards teenagers because of their extensive social media use. According to Pew Research Center, 95% of all teens ages 12-17 are now online. Teens are also targeted for this campaign because of their creativity. According to Sally Grimes, Sharpie’s Global Vice President for Marketing, teens “use Sharpie in the most creative, inspiring ways. Teens have always been our primary user in the past, but we talked more to moms in the past.” This Back-to-School campaign has allowed them to target this audience directly.
Although Sharpie usually targets teens for their Back-to-School campaign, I would like to target young adult women between the ages of 18-24. The cohort of young adults who have internet access is 95%, with 26% of them on Instagram. The ages between 18-24 are the prime years where young adults move out on their own for the first time, either because of college or employment. This is usually when many experience life living on a low income. This makes this age group an excellent target market, especially women, because they are looking for cheap ways to decorate their homes. This market is ideal because these consumers can take ordinary items and decorate them in a creative way and make it into something new and appealing. Instagram would also be an appropriate platform because it not only is popular with young adult women, but it is a great medium for spreading the campaign.
The goals and objectives for this version of the Back-to-School campaign are to increase overall consumer engagement and to increase sales by 5%. With Sharpie dominating 89% of their industry in market share, it would be difficult to build more overall brand awareness. Instead, we would like to inform consumers and show them that there are other ways to use our products then just using them for ordinary writing tasks. We will also be targeting both current and prospective consumers. In order to do this, Sharpie will be expanding on their Back-to-School campaign by marketing young adult women between the ages of 18-24. This will primarily be an Instagram campaign called #ShowYourSharpie, and consist of a contest that allows individuals to submit entries of their Sharpie artwork. This artwork will consist of ordinary household items that have been reinvented though the use of Sharpie products. For example, it could be a plain, white lamp that was redesigned with a pattern that was created with Sharpie Permanent markers. In order to submit entries the hashtag #ShowYourSharpie will be attached to each photo. As stated earlier, Instagram is incredibly popular with young adult women, which means it is an excellent platform for targeting our market niche. It is also an easy and convenient way for consumers to submit their contest entries. Since it is a contest on artwork, it will hopefully boost sales by encouraging consumers to go out to their local stores and purchase Sharpie products.
The contest will consist of contestants submitting their entries through Instagram with the #ShowYourSharpie. In order to spread the word about the campaign, Sharpie will strategically place photos on Instagram to inform consumers of the details of the contest and to give consumers some crafty ideas. On average we would like to post between 1-2 times a day. An example of a post would consist of a picture with a living-room fully decorated with accessories such as vases, center pieces, and tables designed with the use of Sharpie products. This example will also be the used as the cover photo and will include a link to the Sharpie website explaining the details of the contest. It will also include a tagline such as, “Make room for your personality #ShowYourSharpie.” Another example of a post would include a photo of a lamp with the lamp shade decorated with quotes written in cursive with a black Sharpie. This post will have a tag line such as “What is your inspiration? #ShowYourSharpie.” Another post would include a photo of stones with Sharpie designs on them. The post is tagged with “Even the simplest items can become beautiful #ShowYourSharpie.” It is apparent through these three posts that they encourage consumers to pick up a Sharpie and use their imagination to create a room filled with their own personality. Each post will also consist of the #ShowYourSharpie in order to spread awareness of the contest. The Instagram homepage will comprise of a profile picture using the current Sharpie logo. The incentive for entering this contest would include a $500 cash prize to the winning design, $250 for second place, and $100 for the third place entry. All three winners will also receive a “Sharpie Creativity Kit,” which would include a variety of our Sharpie products.
This campaign will also use Twitter as a supporting platform in order to help spread awareness with their already 190,000 followers. Twitter also targets a younger market and would complement the Instagram campaign well. There will also be a separate website linked to the Back-to-School campaign on the Sharpie website. Traditional advertising will also be included in stores in the Back-to-School area.
Since this is a Back-to-School, the campaign will run from the beginning of July to mid-October. This timeframe is extended into October because since this is primarily aimed towards college students, many larger schools do not start until mid-September. This gives consumers a grace period to settle into their homes. Also, since we are marketing towards young adult women, the beginning of the school year marks sorority recruitment. Sorority recruitment is well-known for each organization showcasing their creativity in order to attract new recruits. This could lead to an increase in consumer engagement and sales.
This #ShowYourSharpie campaign is very cost-effective and allows Sharpie to connect with their target market using a low budget. Considering Sharpie already has their own marketing department, there will be no need to hire new employees to manage the Instagram account. We will also have to hold a photo shoot, for example the post with the room filled with home décor, in order to display ideas to consumers. We also would need young creative individuals who could inspire consumers to create their own crafts. This could be as easy as asking some of our younger employees to create something, getting some of our current employees children involved, or using products that have already been created with the use of Sharpie products. As for the prizes, the cash prizes will total $850 and the “Sharpie Creativity Kit” will not add any additional cost because of mass production. Overall, this campaign should cost between $15,000 to $20,000 due to the photo shoot, which is most likely outsourced.
Overall, Sharpie is a company that allows for opportunities to take something ordinary and create something extraordinary. This Back-to-School #ShowYour Sharpie campaign gives consumers the option to save some money and create a space that displays their personality. Sharpie is all about self-expression and the campaign #ShowYourSharpie provides consumers the chance to express themselves with the use of a Sharpie marker.