Uncap the Possibilities- Sharpie

Sharpie is: creative, imaginative, practical, a necessity (a daily necessity to some), expressive- tools. Sharpie is a product division of Newell Rubbermaid; it is the leading permanent marker and highlighter brand in today’s office supplies market by controlling close to 60% of that market. Twenty-Seven percent (27%) of Newell Rubbermaid’s sales (including those of  Paper Mate, Parker and Waterman writing instruments- and of course Sharpie) take place during the months of July-September: Back to School Season, also known as the third quarter.


Currently Sharpie wants YOU to “Start something”. Before the 2011 third quarter, Sharpie launched a new campaign targeting young consumers. There was, and still is, a focus on giving the Sharpie brand a human voice and promotion of user/consumer artistic self expression. A new revamped website was released with a colorful, edgy, youthful, and inspiring theme to attract these targeted consumers. In addition to the new layout a blog was introduced as well as an online community where these hip users could display and share their artistic abilities/expressions with other Sharpie enthusiasts. This creative community was created to encourage individual expression as well as lead to product introduction which would come by exploring the website and available products further. Advertisements in this new 2011 campaign focused around a central idea that with the use of a Sharpie the possibilities are endless (such as creating musical lyrics easier by using the new mechanical pencil or purses created with the permanent market could be sold for nearly $900). It is assumed by marketing experts that advertising costs for 2011 were similar to that of 2010: Entire year of 2010: 12 million dollars, Third Quarter Alone: 7.5 million dollars.


The 2011 Sharpie campaign focused on youthful, creative, and artistic consumers. One evident criticism of this campaign has been the exclusion of the “older consumers” of these products. Although many consumers of Sharpie are young (say teenagers- high school to college to mid twenties) the everyday users need to be included in the focus (such as teachers, parents, lawyers, doctors…the list goes on- the everyday, average people). The youth campaign has been a step in the right direction for Sharpie; this brand can now use this initial platform and begin to support and care for their consumers by now including everyone from the average to the unique consumer, and every consumer in between in the online Sharpie community. Since Sharpie has been moving in the right direction in this social media driven world, the focus now should not be on change, but on advancement and inclusion.


Customers of products generally know what they want from that brand, especially if it is a trusted brand on the market. Ideally and generally speaking, Sharpie consumers want support, a creative outlet (area for expression and idea sharing), and product quality.


  • At this point in time Sharpie has just only started to get in touch with their users. This brand has been on the right path by interacting on and using Facebook, Twitter, creating a blog, as well as the creation of the Sharpie online community, but now is the time for expansion and inclusion. Currently, there is a disconnect within this brand with consumer relatability. The Sharpie Facebook page has 2,687,922 fans (Jan. 24, 2012) where as the youth targeted online Sharpie community on Sharpie.com has just about under 5,000 users. From this evidence, this community is one dimensional and only meant for creative and artistic purposes and displaying those works of art for other community members to see. What is important for this brand now is to attract those (or at least some of those) 2 million Facebook fans to a more inclusive community and the Sharpie website. The community must extend past (but while continuing to include) strictly art and become a community of ideas. Take note of websites like Pinterest- and become a place where teachers, everyday average users, and artists alike can all come together to share ideas, continue to display art, give suggestions, and store product related likes, pins, and bookmarks (or shall we say permanent highlights until the user chooses otherwise)  in one place all relating to Sharpie use.
  • Though product sales are key to company survival, in the case of this particular trusted brand, another focus should be to get the consumer to think twice when standing in the aisle as they go to reach those neon yellow highlighters- make them think back to the inclusive brand that knows it’s customers, everyone from the everyday user to the incredibly gifted artist who’s famous for his/her Sharpie art- and aid the customer in feeling confident in the choice to choose the neon yellow Sharpie highlighters over the competitor. 

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