Play-Doh engages college students with art initiative

Hasbro's Play-Doh brand has named 21-year-old Ian Williams as its "Official Play-Doh Artist of the Year," following a sculpture contest that began in May with the Rhode Island School of Design.

Hasbro's Play-Doh brand has named 21-year-old Ian Williams as its “Official Play-Doh Artist of the Year,” following a sculpture contest that began in May with the Rhode Island School of Design.

The brand teamed up with the school's Sculpture and Ceramics Department for the initiative, asking students to sculpt models of Democratic and Republican presidential candidates Barack Obama and Mitt Romney using only Play-Doh for a chance to win a $5,000 tuition stipend.

Students submitted their sculptures in June and were judged on realism, craftsmanship, creativity, presentation, and incorporation of the Play-Doh personality.

Play-Doh's AOR Litzky Public Relations has been working with the brand on tapping into the artistic nature of Play-Doh compound.

With a team of four staffers on the account, Litzky is working on engaging national print, online, and broadcast media that cover politics and pop culture, such as Entertainment Weekly and Mashable, the firm told PRWeek. The agency is also connecting with mom bloggers, and regional press in Williams' hometown of Rochester, New York, and near the Rhode Island School of Design.

Social media, particularly Facebook, will play a major role in keeping the initiative alive. Play-Doh's Facebook page has nearly 1.1 million fans.

Throughout the year, Williams will create different types of sculptures, and Play-Doh will post photos, videos, and step-by-step outlines of his creations on its Facebook page. 

While it may seem unproductive for Play-Doh to engage college students since they are not the brand's target consumer, it's a great way to build its social media presence and get some media attention. After all, Play-Doh does evoke nostalgia for many adults, so getting college kids to use it in a fun and creative way is a clever PR and marketing ploy.

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