Mixed Signals: A Creative Muse Named Sharpie

Mixed Signals is Erin Straza’s weekly musing about marketing miscellany in advertising, branding, and messaging.

Cinema advertising has to be one of the best venues for advertisers because the audience is captive. There the moviegoers sit, waiting for the show, the TV-like ads bombarding, and there is no remote control to wield for protection.

But last weekend as I endured another cinema advertising attack, I actually saw an ad that was both entertaining and interesting. The creative was clean and focused, featuring a young artist who uses paper coffee cups as his canvas. He was explaining how he got started with the medium, and I was hooked. I didn’t even know what the ad was promoting, but the story, the art, and the filmography compelled me. Soon I discovered the product: my beloved Sharpie pens.

The ad was part of the new Sharpie pen and marker multichannel media campaign with the message points “It starts with a Sharpie,” “What are you going to start?” and “Uncap what’s inside.” Four avid Sharpie users are highlighted in this campaign, aimed at teenagers, to inspire them to use a Sharpie and get creative.

Because I have loved Sharpie products for years, my brain was already primed to accept the message. Even so, the campaign team has done a masterful job highlighting the core element of the product, that being personal expression. Sharpie has superbly attached creative thinking to their writing instruments.

That’s what I love about this campaign: It calls us to think creatively and use the gifts God has given us. Some people who are not interested or gifted in art or music or writing think they are not creative. I disagree. The scientist’s ability to test new theories and the mechanic’s ability to rebuild an engine are, indeed, creative acts. The work of our hands expresses the unique way we are designed in the image of our Creator. When we create, we reflect who God is to the world.

When I see the artistry poured onto a paper coffee cup canvas, I am inspired to keep on with my own creative bent so that my gifts are not wasted and God’s glory is not diminished.

Do I need Sharpie pens to accomplish that? No. But I want them because of what the pens represent and what they remind me to do. Thanks, Sharpie!

About Erin Straza

Erin Straza (Associate Editor) is a freelance writer, editor, and marketing communications consultant, helping organizations tell their stories in authentic and compelling ways. After a stint in corporate marketing while earning her MBA, Erin taught marketing communications at Illinois Wesleyan and Illinois State. She is crafting her first book, writing from the Illinois flatlands where she lives with her husband, Mike. Find more from Erin at her blog Filling My Patch of Sky and on Twitter @ErinStraza.
E-mail: erin [at] FillingMyPatchOfSky [dot] com
Blog: Filling My Patch of Sky
Twitter: @ErinStraza

  • http://goodokbad.com/ Seth T. Hahne

    I love Sharpies and what they allow me to do because their product is unique and well-crafted. I have Sharpies laying around all over the place at both work and home. When I was in junior high, my dad would pack me a lunch in brown lunch bags. Every morning he would draw something on the bag and artistically add my name. These bags were treasures—made by a Sharpie and an imagination. I use Sharpies similarly every year to decorate present packaging, giving my gifts a bit more personal touch.

    Also, I’ve recently been turned on to Pentel Arts Pocket Brush pens. They are… really neat. And they fill a niche unfilled by Sharpie products.


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