According to metrics expert Nielsen’s latest kids and computers study, the amount of time young surfers spend online has shot up 63% in the past five years and some 16 million kids between ages two and 11 now make up 9.5% of all US internet users. Given those stats, you’d think traditional play like arts & crafts might be in trouble, but not if category leader Crayola has anything to say about it. Instead, it’s found a way to keep hands-on creative play alive in the digital space.
Through focus groups conducted around two years ago, Crayola discovered moms were wishing their kids spent more of their online gaming time on creative activities. The solution? Lights. Camera. Color!, a new initiative and application that effectively bridges the creative gap between online and offline.
Four Crayola products – 64- and 96-pack crayons, short colored pencils and 64-pack Pip-Squeaks Skinnies – will be specially marked with LCC logos and include a website access code. Budding artists can then visit www.crayola.com/colorme and enter the code to use the LLC online app – no downloads or subscription fees required. Once there, kids can upload pics from their digicam, and with a single click, the app turns the images into black-line art and ready-to-print coloring pages. In essence, it allows for the creation of personalized coloring books.
Tech-savvy kids can customize their pages, adding captions (i.e. ‘My best friend’ or ‘Class trip’) or other images (tiaras, eye patches etc.) before clicking print, and then use their arsenal of real-life art supplies to do the rest. ‘It’s a grow-with-me system,’ says Crayola Canada platform manager Shery Hanser of the new initiative. Though it targets kids four and up, the customization options can make for more sophisticated play as they get older, she notes.
The code stays valid for six months after its first use. Products with the LLC logo are debuting at North American mass-market retailers this month. Crayola’s gearing up for a TV ad campaign in October, along with traditional PR and outreach to mommy bloggers. And it’s launching a teaser Facebook app this month, which lets users turn images on the social network into black-line art to share with friends, but prevents them from printing. It’ll hopefully entice users to pick up a box of Crayola product and give LCC a whirl.