Sally Grimes found that Sharpie had "a bigger brand than it had a business" when she came to Newell Rubbermaid three years ago from KraftFoods. So Ms. Grimes, now VP-marketing for markers and highlighters, helped balance the equation by expanding beyond the iconic marker to launch Sharpie pens, liquid pencils and gel highlighters.
Sharpie also launched an "Uncap What's Inside" print and digital campaign from DraftFCB, Chicago, going beyond the brand's utilitarian focus. "We found a shift in how people were using our products, from labeling to more creative expression," Ms. Grimes said.
Ads have shown celebrities who've made Sharpie their instrument of choice for signing autographs also using the markers for self-expression and invited consumers to unleash their creativity. The efforts helped Sharpie amass 2.3 million Facebook fans. Sharpie has led Newell's share up 2 points or more in markers, pens and pencils since 2009, according to SymphonyIRI data from Deutsche Bank.