What first started as a story about a children’s product that blends packaged goods and online enhancement to provide a shining example of using all resources to create a spectacular product, changed to confusion when I started researching further. Believe me, the excitement began when I saw the Crayola Story Studio spot last night – giving me a clear idea of what I was going to write today – and then changed entirely when I saw how horribly the product was represented in Crayola’s own digital marketing. This is definitely not an attempt to damn the company, but more of an exercise to learn from what was done right and what was done horribly wrong.
Let’s begin with the commercial spot. The spot in itself was disruptive because it had an atypical placement. Because of that, it caught my eye while I was forwarding through commercials on the DVR. Running during one of the home-buying shows on HGTV, the spot about a new product that uses facial recognition software on the internet to “comic-book-ize” the child’s face and then inserts it into a comic book for the child to color in. What you buy in the store is effectively the kit with the paper, binder and access code. Everything is then printed on that paper through your home printer and away you go.
I was excited by the product because it seemed like a phenomenal way to bridge the physical and digital to bring a fun product to the home. There have been other attempts to bridge the realms, but they usually don’t fulfill their promise and then seem superfluous or lame. This one had the promise of being so much more. As stated above, I was impressed with the placement because it was not booked during the typical programming that is packed with toy products. The placement was smart placement because the programming was about moving into new houses either to start a family or gain room to grow the family. As such, they are reaching the people who can actually make the purchase rather than hitting the nag factor.
At that point, the plan was for the post to be about the product with an aside about the marketing. The research changed all that…
For simplicity or clarity, here’s the list of the issues:
- The mention of the product on the Crayola.com homepage is sort of hidden – granted, that is because of the Halloween season. There should be more of a product presence than the rotating images in the center of the page. There is also a great video posted on the page conveying their mission statement that makes me want to bombard the world with crayola products to ensure world peace and a better life – but that too is sort of lost in the architecture.
- When trying to find the product through the other navigation, I was not able to find it. It could be because I’m used to large and clear product listings – especially in relation to kids products. Again, a lot of the confusion could be due to design and layout.
- When googling what my memory of the product was from the commercial, the closest I got was the company’s press release page – where all releases were in chronological order beginning with releases from March of 2000. Most listings are in reverse chronological order…
- By entering “personalized” in the Crayola site search box, the product did not come up.
- When I did find the site about the product, they did not leverage the available video to convey what the product is.
- If you got to the Story Studio page, it had very basic information and effectively was a dead-end if you didn’t already have the code. In the least, it should have had a link to their store to purchase.
- In crayolastore.com, they were highlighting Halloween products at the top, but didn’t even put the Story Studio product in the new arrivals section at the bottom.
The takeaway from all of this is that the product seems pretty cool and they did smart media planning – at least with that one spot – but they are making a big business error in how the product is supported online. As consumers are first seeing the product on-air, they are still going online to find more information. Companies need to make sure the products they are supporting in one form of media are also supported across all other relevant platforms. The official site and store site – regardless of design or architecture – are absolutely relevant platforms and need to reflect the media flights. If seasonality gets in the way of that clarity, something’s got to give.
In the end, Crayola is effectively letting the steam out of the campaign and diluting the opportunity to really gauge ROI. For something as new as this – buying a product that must be completed via a computer and web-connection – all opportunities for the consumer to bail have to be removed. Crayola didn’t do that. As such, even those people who were interested in the product based on the spot might never convert to purchase because it seemed too complex or hard to find.
Hopefully, Crayola can rectify the situation and have a successful product because that could lead to more of those types of products – bolstering the continued demand for packaged goods rather than just digital.
Worst case scenario is that Crayola does not even follow through on its own tag line and Give Everything Imaginable…