Crayola Draws on Animated Characters to Push Holiday Campaign

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Meet Denny, Scarlet, Gus and Rod.

These are this year's "spokescrayons" in the new holiday ad from Crayola. The 30-second animated spot features each character auditioning for the "spokescrayon" role amid a Christmas backdrop. Combining clumsy, confident, sassy and fun into likeable characters, Crayola hopes the campaign will connect with its intergenerational customer base.

"With the history of Crayola, it's so important to highlight the characters, regardless of whether you're a 50-year-old or a three-year-old," explained Kristen Simon, managing director of McGarryBowen, which worked with Crayola to produce the spots. "They'll be fresh and modern regardless of what your age is."

The characters are meant to evoke a human connection from viewers, with each crayon showing characteristics common in all people, Ms. Simon said. Gus is a character with a chipped tooth who gets in trouble all the time; Rod is a nervous "not super confident" type; Denny is athletic and confident; and Scarlet is "super sassy and smart."

The video represents a new marketing approach for Crayola, which previously did product or season-specific campaigns, said Josh Kroo, director of marketing and communications at Crayola. It is also Crayola's first animated spot, a partnership with Aardman Nathan Love animation studio. Like other large brands, holiday marketing is an important milestone for the company. Last year, Crayola spent $3.8 million on measured media in the U.S. over the holiday period of November and December, according to Kantar Media.

"It's a completely new way for us to build campaigns and promotions," said Mr. Kroo. "We want people to be able to see a little bit of themselves (in the characters)."

The launch of the character-centered ad is a way for a legacy brand like Crayola to continue to connect with a wide audience in a fast-evolving, interactive marketing sphere. Mr. Kroo said the characters will continue to be used as platforms for future campaigns, and are meant to be a playful respite during a holiday season when heavier news is on the minds of many.

"Humor was a big part of this," Mr. Kroo said. "There's a lot of serious things going on in the world -- Crayola is a brand that's celebrated and fun and we set out to make people laugh."