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Special Project

Special Project
From the 16th Annual Shorty Awards

Crayola Creativity Week

Bronze Honor in Education


The campaign's objective was to support children’s creativity and increase creative teaching and learning in schools, by engaging students in creative experiences across all domains. This campaign focused on advancing teachers’ understanding of how essential creativity is for children to reach their full potential. It provided them with turnkey resources that nurture children’s creative self-expression. The campaign linked creative thinking with social-emotional learning and literacy, showcasing the role creativity has played in people’s lives—with celebrities donating their time to tell kids why creativity matters. The campaign’s theme, Today’s Creative Interests Lead to Tomorrow’s Careers, featured stories from actors, authors, artists, athletes, astronauts, scientists, Indigenous dancers, and musicians. Schools received all the resources for free, making it easy to implement the weeklong, hands-on learning curriculum which included celebrity videos, book read alongs, art challenges, and downloadable Thinking Sheet activity handouts that enable children to make their thinking visible. Each day a celebrity demonstrated interesting ways to creatively tell their personal story using art supplies. Teachers who posted students’ art work won daily prizes for their classroom. For example, rapper/hip hop pioneer Darryl “DMC” McDaniels challenged kids to draw a cartoon self-portrait showing their “best self” or create an “illustrated dream poem” about their personal aspirations/dreams. Broadway star Ali Stroker challenged kids to “draw emotions”, emphasizing that no one can tell us how we should feel, and reminding kids that we all have different abilities and unique strengths. NASA astronauts pointed out how creativity is used in every aspect of space exploration.

Strategy and Execution

Crayola’s strategy was to engage collaborators from nonprofit and for-profit sectors (NASA, Penguin Random House, Khan Academy, etc.) and celebrities (including astronauts, television and movie stars, musicians, authors, and illustrators) to create content and promote the program. All agreed to do this work pro bono so kids could see how creativity is essential in every career and help them imagine themselves in those roles. Book publishers and film studios provided access to incredible celebrity talent, who read books aloud, talked about their creative experiences today and when they were kids, explained how creativity helped them overcome challenges, and led students in hands-on art making experiences. Video scripts and downloadable teaching resources were created by Crayola’s in-house Education team. Prize packs were donated by sponsors to incentivize user-generated content, which resulted in over 5,000+ pieces of children’s artwork shared online. Every activity was aligned with the education standards from 13 countries, making it a seamless integration into classrooms and homes across the globe. Resources were available in 9 languages, took less than 30 minutes to complete, and included popular talent like TODAY show’s meteorologist Dylan Dreyer, musician Darryl ‘DMC’ McDaniels, comedian James ‘Murr’ Murray, Broadway star Ali Stroker, Olympic Figure Skater Nathan Chen, and many more. With a shoe-string budget, Crayola promoted the free program via organic and paid social, teacher influencers, direct mail postcards to schools, email campaigns, PR to education and lifestyle media, and digital banner ads in education outlets. Celebrities and sponsors also shared the program via their owned media channels (social, email, website). We worked around talents’ busy schedules to film at their convenience and appreciate their “priceless” contributions of time and expertise. A challenge we had to overcome was a last-minute shift in gears when Sony Pictures’ film Harold and the Purple Crayon production was delayed (after actor Zachary Levi agreed to participate to thank the middle school teacher who recognized his creative talents). Our partners at Sony Pictures quicky got the actors in another one of their films, Lyle Lyle Crocodile (Shawn Mendes, Javier Bardem, Winslow Fegley) to participate. This shift required creating new teaching resources (scripts, art challenges, book read aloud videos, and Thinking Sheets) just one month before the program’s launch date. One of the most popular aspects of the program was Crayola Education’s collaboration with NASA. They provided coveted access to the Johnson Space Center, giving students a peak into many of the creative careers at NASA including a nutritionist, space suit designer, exercise specialist, and the Mission Control Center team. Teachers and students were thrilled to learn that NASA hires artists, as they drew along with the artist intern who illustrated a NASA publication. The program’s execution allowed educators to celebrate every child’s creativity and encouraged each child to share their special strengths and interests. As one Special Ed teacher shared, “With Crayola Creativity Week, our students had the opportunity, for the first time ever, to be included in a school-wide celebration of learning. We love that it’s accessible for all.” 


The key success metrics for Crayola Creativity Week were to measure how many children were engaged in the program and the impact the program had on their learning and confidence. Crayola Creativity Week 2023 actively engaged 3.5 million students, and their 195,000 teachers, from 28,500 schools in all 50 states and 77 countries (a 75% increase over the January 2022 pilot). This campaign received 615 million impressions in just one week (a 340% increase over the 2022 pilot program.) The daily feature videos received more than 1 million views and the culminating assembly livestream event had 250,000 participants. A remarkable result was that 97% of teachers reported they plan to participate in this program annually.

The highlight of this campaign was the impact it had on children. 83% of teachers reported that Crayola Creativity Week increased students’ creative confidence and their enthusiasm for using creativity and self-expression to learn about all school subjects. Equally impressive was the business impact as 71% of teachers reported this program increased the amount of art supplies used in their schools to teach a variety of subjects, including social-emotional learning, career exploration, and literacy.

The success of this campaign can also be measured in the contributions and media support provided by education associations and book publishers. While the program was produced on a shoestring budget, partners’ support earned the program over $6MM in media value. And of course the celebrities’ donation of time and expertise that is priceless.


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