OAKBROOK, IL: Sharpie introduced its 2010 Sharpie Squad this week, highlighting 20 artists, bloggers, and customers who have found creative uses of Sharpie products and who will serve as brand ambassadors.
The Squad members will blog, tweet, and otherwise discuss the ways they use Sharpie products while the company will "shine our social media light on them and really drive some eyeballs their way," said Susan Wassel, social media and PR manager for Sharpie.
The brand, which is working with AOR Weber Shandwick, will periodically provide squad members with Sharpie products to test or offer in blog or Twitter contests.
"This is consumer-driven," said Wassel. "Sharpie started out mainly as a labeling tool, very utilitarian. More recently, we were seeing all of these incredibly creative uses of the product -- nothing that we decided or pushed out from Sharpie, but really just consumer, organically driven."
Examples of Sharpie-infused work range from decorated Styrofoam cups and brown lunch bags to BMW cars. Wassel noted that Sharpie is primarily targeting women 25 to 54 years old but is also reaching out to its secondary market, which is made up of teens and young adults.
In its second year of the campaign, Sharpie expanded the squad to 20 participants, up from 12 in 2009. The company hosted its first-ever Sharpie Squad Summit via Ustream last week to introduce the ambassadors to the Sharpie team.
Sharpie also provided its squad members with FlipCams to film themselves showing off their work.Online, the brand is promoting the squad via Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, and its blog and community hub on SharpieUncapped.com. Working with WS, Sharpie is also targeting national publications, as well as local media outlets in the squad members' hometowns.
"This is our official kick-off to 2010 advertising and promotion programming," Wassel said, noting that the Sharpie Squad campaign does not promote one product, but an overall brand message of creativity. "We do have some additional programs coming for back-to-school, which is our big-time period."