Every consumer brand dreams of a high-profile mention that suddenly propels its product it into the national spotlight. Right? Well, maybe.
What if the attention comes in a politically-charged environment? That's the situation in which Ohio Art, creator of Etch A Sketch, recently found itself. And the way the company responded is an excellent example of "grace under pressure" and great marketing. Etch A Sketch's moment in the spotlight came as the result of a comment made by an advisor to Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney. In describing his candidate's political positions, the aide said, "Well, I think you hit a reset button for the fall campaign. Everything changes. It's almost like an Etch A Sketch. You kind of shake it up and restart it all over again."
The comment went viral and Ohio Art found itself with a potential opportunity or PR nightmare on its hands, depending on how you look at it. To its immense credit, the company made the most of its unintended moment of fame without weighing into a politically charged debate or alienating Americans of either the Republican or Democratic political parties. Thus was born the Shake It Up, America website. The home page states: We stand firmly behind our proclamation that "We have a left knob and a right knob for each political party." And 'when both work together, we can do loop de loops.' We're especially serious about the loop do loops part. We call on you to shake it up, America! Exercise your freedom of self-expression by voting on Election Day, and drawing on your Etch A Sketch every day. Our political neutrality is unflappable. And our stance on self-expression is unshakable."
A new ad campaign released in conjunction with the website featured headlines like: "We have a left knob and a right knob for each political party." "Etch A Sketch is a lot like politics - there's a lot of gray area - Politically, we lean right down the middle. Which way do you lean?" Each ad ends with the same statement at the bottom: "Etch A Sketch is proud to be part of the national debate."
Brilliant! But wait, it gets better! Now you can not only purchase Etch A Sketch with its traditional red frame, soon you can buy a blue or flag-themed version of the toy. It's a real pleasure to see how this iconic American brand took the high road, encouraged citizens to exercise their right to vote and turned an opportunity into a playful and notable campaign. And I know which color Etch A Sketch I'm ordering. How about you?
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