Write It by Hand to Make It Stick, Says Post-it

Finding That People Are 42% More Likely to Complete a Handwritten Task Sparks New Campaign

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A young poet stars in Post-it's online documentary series as part of its new campaign.
A young poet stars in Post-it's online documentary series as part of its new campaign.

In an era when most people live highly digitized lifestyles, 3M's Post-it brand is doing its best to make sure people still recognize the merits of writing things down by hand.

3M this week launched a campaign named "Make it Stick," which draws from commissioned research on students' study habits and includes two TV spots and an online documentary series following students who use Post-it notes to overcome challenges or achieve goals.

People are 42% more likely to complete a task they've handwritten, according to Jeff Hillins, global business director for 3M's stationery and office supplies division. This finding, from a 2007 study titled "The impact of commitment, accountability, and written goals on goal achievement," is the premise of the campaign.

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"We've done a lot of new segmentation work to gain new insights on our consumers -- not only across demographic segments of our consumers, but also from a psychographic and behavioral aspect," Mr. Hillins said. The brand commissioned market research firm Wakefield Research to conduct a survey of Gen Z, defined as those born between 1995 and 2012, which garnered 1,001 email responses from students aged 13 to 19.

Based on the survey data, Post-it posits that writing by hand is still an important feature of young people's learning styles. It says, for example, that 85% of Gen Z members learn best when using a mix of digital and nondigital tools and that 81% would feel restricted if they could only work on digital devices.

Mr. Hillins said the campaign marks the start of a serious shift for Post-it. Whereas previous campaigns have focused on Post-it notes' utility in the processes of creativity and self-expression, "this campaign is really focused on achievements." The brand's new focus on young people pursuing goals explains the campaign's emphasis on academics.

Targeting a younger generation is also a new development for the brand, according to Mr. Hillins. He said the online documentary series is another means of reaching this demographic, which is less interested in traditional TV spots than digital content. The documentaries take on an inspirational air -- the first tells the story of Imani, a young poet who found confidence and her voice through daily creative writing sessions -- and are meant to resonate with students.

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"Make it Stick" is the first campaign push from Post-it since 2013. "We try to look at a lot of our brand strategy in a three- to five-year cycle," Mr. Hillins said, adding that this approach helps the brand keep its message consistent over time and across platforms.

The need to refresh its strategy may become more of a priority for 3M after the company reported Tuesday lower than expected second quarter sales of $7.7 billion and reduced its sales outlook for the year, citing falling demand in some markets.

To produce the "Make It Stick" campaign, Post-it worked with Grey, longtime creative agency partner for all 3M's consumer brands.

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