On UN World Day for Cultural Diversity for Dialogue and Development, Crayola launched Colors of the World crayons – 24 new specially formulated crayons – designed to mirror and represent over 40 global skin tones across the world. Crayola, a brand that sparks imagination through color and believes every child should be able to creatively and accurately color themselves into the world they see around them.
Mimi Dixon, Manager - Brand Marketing Strategy & Activation for Crayola with Grant Flannery, Group Strategy Director, dentsu mcgarrybowen spent some time with AME's Effective Perspective to share the exciting story behind this effective product launch for this new product that creatively embraces diversity and inclusion.
AME Awards: What was the inspiration to greenlight the new product Crayola Colors of the World?
Mimi Dixon: The impetus for Crayola Colors of the World skin tone crayons was more a matter of the realities of the changing marketplace, more so than inspiration. First, our world is becoming more diverse; in a recent Pew Research study, 70% of people across 27 countries felt that diversity was growing in their country and nearly half of Gen Zers are racial or ethnic minorities. Second, inclusion is still an enormous notion that we are still learning, growing, developing, initiating, etc. This is evidenced by what we are seeing across our country and world today regarding instances of inequality & injustice that continue to plague our society today, so inclusion has been needed, is currently needed and will continue to be needed in the future. Crayola Colors of the World crayons was created to mirror the diversity we are seeing in the world today as well as advance inclusion within creativity.
AME Awards: How did the Crayola come to collaborate with Mac’s Victor Casale on this project?
Mimi Dixon: When we initiated the Crayola Colors of the World project, we streamlined the objective to focus singularly on inclusion and the guiding principles that we heralded as our True North were “authenticity”, “credibility” and “transparency”.
With our singular focus and specifically the guiding principle of “credibility” in mind, I recommended that we look externally for a skin tone expert – someone who lives and breathes global skin tones. We are Crayola, the color experts, but to “credibly” & “authentically” create Colors of the World, we needed to marry our color expertise with that of a global skin tone partner. As I looked across various industries, the beauty industry was the one industry I felt had recently made the most strides from a diversity & inclusion standpoint. In my search, I came across Victor Casale’s profile and his 30 years of experience in creating global skin tone pallets as former Chief Chemist & Managing Director of R&D of MAC cosmetics and Co-founder & Chief Innovation Officer of Cover FX and currently Co-founder & CEO of MOB Beauty. Immediately I saw his passion for inclusion & diversity from a shade, formula, business and brand standpoint and the combination of the three made him the perfect candidate for a partnership.
I sent him a cryptic message on Linked In “requesting his expertise on a project I am initiating at Crayola” and I had a response from him first thing the next day and within a week, he was out at our offices meeting with marketing & R&D. He immediately had a passion for & was excited about the project proposition. His guidance, expertise and insight for the Crayola Colors of the World crayons has been invaluable and he has been and continues to be a truly awesome partner on the project.
AME Awards: How did the team determine the actual colors and their names?
Mimi Dixon: For more than eight months, Crayola’s Research & Development and Marketing Teams collaborated with Victor to bring the Colors of the World crayons to life, modeling his scientific process for developing inclusive foundation shades. Together, Casale and Crayola systematically created crayon colors that step down from light to deep shades across rose, almond and golden undertones, resulting in a 24 global shade palette that authentically reflects the full spectrum of human complexions.
AME Awards: What was the ramp up time from inspiration to release?
Mimi Dixon: Crayola launched Crayola multicultural crayons in 1992 and quickly followed up the launch with markers, colored pencils, washable paint and Model magic, so diversity & inclusion within creativity is a solution we have been innovating against and providing to kids & teachers for over 28 years. The Crayola Colors of the World product was initiated in 2019 and was launched in May of 2020 with a PR announcement, 32-count product pre-sale on Walmart.com & 24-count product availability notification on Crayola.com. The physical product hit shelves at Walmart in mid-July.
AME Awards: What creative and logistical challenges did you have to overcome to launch this unique product?
Mimi Dixon: As you can assume, covid-19 did affect the Crayola Colors of the World launch to a degree as Crayola & its plants are located in Pennsylvania, one of the states within the epicenter of the virus breakout. As a result, the company, including the plants, were closed from mid-March through early Jun which had an effect on product production & shipment. I am happy to say that we are producing & shipping product & consumers have been excited, grateful & full of praise for the New Crayola Colors of the World crayons.
AME Award: How did the exclusive partnership with Walmart come about and why was that important for the product?
Mimi Dixon: Walmart is one of the largest global retailers in the world and like many other manufacturers & brands, Crayola partners with Walmart for the sale of our product. Back to School is a key season for both Crayola & Walmart, so what better time to launch Crayola Colors of the World, just prior to the new school year with a key retailer. Walmart is excited about the product, most importantly from a diversity & inclusion standpoint & has been a great partner through our activation collaboration.
AME Awards: Why was it important to unveil this new product on United Nations World Day for Cultural Diversity for Dialogue and Development and what did you hope to gain?
Mimi Dixon: We launched Crayola Colors of the World skin tone crayons on United Nations World Day for Cultural Diversity for Dialogue and Development because it was a day that focused on the “dialogue” & “development” regarding diversity and this is what we hoped to achieve & did achieve by launching on this date. The Crayola Colors of the World generated over 2.1 billion impressions of media “dialogue”, but more importantly, the consumer response & “dialogue” on social media was an overwhelming outpouring of heartfelt, personal and emotional comments, remarks & accolades and this is what truly inspires Crayola and confirms that we launched a product that delivered our True North = “authentic, credible & transparent inclusion”. The “development” is our desire to increase representation and foster a greater sense of belonging and acceptance so kids can creatively and accurately color & express themselves within the world they see around them and we are seeing this “development” with each selfie a kids draws of him or herself with the new Colors of the World crayons.
AME Awards: Why did Crayola decide to also create a Colors of the World Coloring Book?
Mimi Dixon: Crayola created a Colors of the World coloring book so kids can use their Colors of the World crayons for further express themselves. The coloring book provides a solution that furthers the message of inclusion within creativity. Lastly, we see a high attachment rate among our crayons & coloring books, so from a business standpoint we provided a coloring book for the crayons knowing that this is a key consumer trend.
AME Awards: What has the reaction been to these new diverse and inclusive products?
AME Awards: How is the Colors of the World program currently being activated in the marketplace?
Mimi Dixon: One of the insights we learned from teachers during our research for Colors of the World is that teachers would most use the crayons for diversity, self-expression/esteem & back-to-school meet me exercises by way of self-portraits. So we gleaned this key insight & in partnership with McGarry Bowen created the current campaign “Draw your #trueselfie” launched with an online film – where we are asking consumers to draw their #trueselfie or self-portrait with the new Colors of the World crayons and upload on Crayola.com/worldcolors. On the website, Crayola is celebrating diversity & inclusion by showcasing the unique, dynamic and colorful selfies within the #trueselfie gallery. We are also working with key influencers with families showcasing an array of skin tones to best demonstrate the parental excitement & engagement coupled with the kid exploration and use of the new Colors of the World crayons.