2017 Winners

Play-Doh Back to School


Silver Media Agency of the Year: OMD Canada

The Goal

Despite the soft spot Canadians have had for Play-Doh over the past 60 years, the brand had started to see a loss of relevance with both kids and parents alike. Agency OMD Canada’s task was to get the product on parents’ back-to-school shopping lists for their children (a list the brand had not been a part of for quite some time).

The brand needed to make a meaningful impact against the the highly sought after millennial parent that drove relevance and tapped into the target’s nostalgia for the iconic brand.

The agency needed to re-engage parents by helping them understand the critical importance of teaching their children through creative play while showcasing the values and attributes that make Play-Doh the perfect tool that parents can rely on to help their children grow.

The objective was to use back-to-school timing to generate awareness of Play-Doh as an educational tool, encouraging parents to put the product on their children’s back-to-school list.

Target: Moms aged 25-40 with kids under the age of six.

Insight and Strategy

As the list of educational products grow, parents do more and more research to find the right back-to-school products, relying on trusted sources of information. Knowing that Canadian parents turn to Canada’s top parenting brand, Today’s Parent, the agency wanted to bring Play-Doh to life in its much anticipated back-to-school issue.

The team started with the magazine’s cover showcasing the endless possibilities of the product – sculpting the entire thing out of Play-Doh. With more than 60 years of having a positive impact on childhood memories, Play-Doh also had nostalgia on its side. Research shows that scents are especially effective as reminders of past experiences, so the team looked to harness the iconic scent of Play-Doh to take the reader back in time to their own childhoods.

To dial up Play-Doh’s educational benefits, the team co-developed custom content with Today’s Parent that championed the importance of imaginative and creative play. The strategy was to bring Play-Doh to life with millennial parents. They knew if they could showcase the brand in a new light, putting it front and center with parents could drive relevance and market share.

Three important requirements were identified for the campaign:

1. The execution needed to have a big impact
2. They needed to find a way to reawaken parents’ fond memories of Play-Doh
3. They needed to teach parents that play was educational and shift their perception of Play-Doh from simply a toy to an educational tool

The Plan

The team forged a strategic partnership with Today’s Parent to develop custom content that reinforced the correlation between play and a child’s development. To drive impact and scale for the content series, they leveraged bold, ground-breaking elements. For the first time ever, a brand earned the coveted cover model position – the magazine’s cover image and logo were sculpted entirely out of Play-Doh. It was an unmissable way to engage parents, pulling them into the custom content series. The adjacent brand ad, which included scratch and sniff featuring Play-Doh’s iconic scent transported parents back to their own childhoods.

Digitally, the agency tapped into Today’s Parent’s 2.3 million social followers to create awareness of the special edition. Through video, homepage takeovers and the multitude of social formats, the team talked about Play-Doh’s 60th anniversary and showed how the cover was made, all while weaving in the main message around the educational benefits of the product.

The Results

-Play-Doh Sales shot up by 10% year over year in just two weeks of the program launching.
-The featured fall product skews exceeded forecast for the key back-to-school period by 150%.
-For the first time Today’s Parent changed its logo, and the medium was Play-Doh.
-Play-Doh’s brand and iconic scent was placed front and center with 1.8 million Canadian parents.