How Crane used Sharpie Markers to Snag 20k Facebook Likes in 3 Months

20k Facebook Likes

A few days ago I had a great call with Katie Sotor Vice President of Marketing for Crane to talk about a creative marketing campaign she ran that included sharpie markers, artists, and competitions. The campaign was extremely successful running for almost 6 months and netting 20k Facebook likes in the first 3 months.

Crane is a design company that takes ordinary boring products like humidifiers, air purifiers, and space heaters and turns them into beautiful creative designs.

about-crane 1

The Idea

While brainstorming ideas for a campaign, Katie and her team noticed that one of their products, the White Drop Humidifier was essentially a “blank canvas” that they could draw on. Being a creative company, they loved the idea of custom art humidifiers and figured they could create some buzz by creating and giving away these humidifiers.

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They decided on running a Facebook competition with a goal of increasing likes to their page and improve their brand presence. Most of Crane’s sales come from retailers such as (Bed Bath & Beyond and Target) meaning direct web sales were secondary to brand awareness.

The Execution

The first task was finding artists to create the art.

They thought that Sharpie Markers would be a great medium as they have an oil based marker that works great on plastic surfaces. They were also aware of Sharpie’s marketing campaigns involving artist creating beautiful art and designs on all sorts of surfaces and decided to contact Sharpie to try and get their involvement.

sharpie-art-stroke-2 1

Luckily, someone in the office went to high school with a current Sharpie Artist who was more than happy to help get the ball rolling with a design and help connect them with the marketing team in Sharpie.

With their first artist Samantha DeCarlo locked down, they began the campaign.

coy-fish-humidifier 1

They created a competition where entrants were pushed to like their Facebook page and give their email to enter the competition (there are many Facebook competition apps out there that can be used to run this kind of campaign).

They set up the competition to give away a prize each week of a normal humidifier with a grand monthly prize of a customized humidifier.

They blogged about the campaign (see also: how to set up your company blog in 5 minutes) and promoted it across their social media channels and to their email list. They interviewed the artists and blogged about it, plus were able to leverage the fact they were using Sharpie products to get Sharpie to promote the campaign across their blog and social media channels (Sharpie’s Facebook page has 4 million+ likes!)

They also used an “everybody wins” tactic, giving every entrant a discount coupon for purchases made on their website.

The Results

Crane Sharpie Campaign Results

  • 20,000+ Facebook Fans – From 9k to 30k+ (currently 46k)
  • $1-2000 in direct sales – From coupon uses that were offered to every entrant
  • $???,??? in Retail Sales & Brand Awareness – Which is by far Crane’s biggest distribution channel resulting in an unknown, but presumably huge volume of sales
  • Backlinks – From major brands such as Sharpie, artists and even yours truly
  • Total Cost – Less than $200/month ($100 in facebook ads plus the product cost)


I love this campaign for a few reasons. First, the product is great. It’s a creative and playful twist on what is traditionally a boring product. They used this to their advantage when designing the campaign and reinforced the brand image with a bright and creative focused campaign.

They also executed effectively, creating an experience out of the campaign. Promoting it continuously, mixing it with content marketing, interviews and leveraging other people’s audience to get a real bang for their marketing buck.

All in all, this campaign was incredibly successful. The long-term results of the subscribers, social media followers, and brand awareness will likely translate into millions of dollars of sales for Crane all for spending just a few hundred.

If you’re interested in Crane, head over to their website and check out their products.

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Vinay Patankar

CEO and Co-Founder of Process Street. Find him on Twitter and LinkedIn.

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