Sharpie Starts Revolution With Aggressive Ad Campaign


Sharpie encourages teens to use their markers to start a revolution in a multi-million dollar ad campaign that reaches out in every medium possible.

Caroline Ku
  • 5 august 2011

Sharpie, the leading manufacturer of permanent markers and highlighters in the United States, is going back to school with fervor and color.

While they were once touted as being the choice marker of celebrities, an image created by hiring David Beckham for their ads, the latest campaign is targeted at teenagers, and the message is all about self-expression and starting a revolution.

The campaign began with the overhaul of their website last week that asks ‘What are you starting?’ and encourages fans to submit their Sharpie creations to be used in a YouTube takeover on Aug. 27. But it doesn’t end there. It’s just the beginning of Sharpie’s aggressive, multi-channel campaign to maximize sales in the most profitable quarter of the year.

Advertising plans include print ads and QR codes in Seventeen and Teen Vogue, TV spots on MTV Fuse and Nickelodeon, digital and video ads on the internet, social media and shopper-friendly packaging. This will also be the first time for Sharpie to advertise in theaters with spots to appear in Chicago, Los Angeles and New York City.

Since Sharpie is moving away from its celebrity associations, they have adopted four Sharpie fans to help spread the message. Erica Domesek, Cheeming Boey, Mark Rivard and Marirose Weldon are seen drawing on fabric, paper cups, skateboards and writing lyrics.

Sharpie launched in 1964 as a writing tool by Sanford. It has since taken over 60% of the United States market in its category.

In 2010, Sharpie spent $12 million on advertising with $7.5 for its Back to School campaign alone. The current campaign is created by Draftfcb in Chicago.

See a video of Cheeming Boey talking about his paper cup illustrations below:


Watch the fourth segment of the Future of PR Series, ‘Holistic Transmedia Storytelling’, to learn how Golin Harris is using multi-channel campaigns to create the most effective output for their clients.


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