The Many Colors of Crayola

If you were like me, you may have been a little surprised by the colorful posts by Crayola last month. I honestly didn’t know what they were doing with the new adult humor and content. I thought maybe they were attempting to change their brand’s voice to appeal to parents in a new way. I saw a few funny posts and they caught my attention. I usually don’t pay them much mind but after a few risque posts I realized there must be a larger issue going on. Crayola was hacked! Feel free to follow the link to see some examples of the posts so I can spare those who don’t wish to be offended.

They quickly removed all of the posts and issued an apology on Facebook and Twitter.

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I can’t say that they didn’t handle the situation appropriately but I do think they could have had a little more fun with it. I have a feeling the majority of their followers are moms. Perhaps some truly felt offended, but I think they could have taken the time to speak to those of us who took notice of them for the first time in a while because of the posts.

In addition to their normal apology, I would have liked to have seen something like this:

“Well, thanks to the hackers we’ve tapped into a new audience. If you haven’t checked us out before, come see the many colors of Crayola, minus the extra colorful material.”

I will admit that I take notice of them more now. I think this could have been a golden opportunity to grab hold of some stagnant followers and maybe reach some new ones.

Those who look to Crayola for creative supplies and ideas for their children know that the brand puts out a fun, wholesome vibe. Nobody is going to hold the hacking incident against them, and I don’t think their reputation was harmed in the least. Thankfully, someone at Crayola was minding the shop. But it may have been quite a different story if it went unnoticed for much longer. Having a presence on social media is vital. Although hacking like this doesn’t happen often, harmful comments and conversations do happen every day. The first line of defense for any brand to be BE PRESENT and take action as quickly as possible. Crayola maintained the good reputation that they have earned by their fans because of their swift action.

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8 thoughts on “The Many Colors of Crayola

  1. Oh wow, I had not seen this Crayola hack before. Since Crayola’s target audience is parents with children, this kind of hack was clearly not good for the brand. Obviously the adult-themed posts were more shocking for this target audience so a rapid response is absolutely essential.

    I agree with your post that the social media managers should have made more humor about off-color and inappropriate social media posts- however, if the company had not been able to come up with a more appropriate funny response then it could have backfired. Instead of responding to the hack with a cold “we are aware of the situation” Crayola should have been more human in the response. Perhaps the company could have said “it appears we can no longer use the password “password” as the login to our Facebook and Twitter accounts.” Even that kind of response recognizes that social media is a human activity, rather than an abstract place to advertise.

    1. Hampton,

      I couldn’t help but laugh at your password comment! You make an excellent point. If they missed the mark on the humor it could have ended very poorly. The posts were pretty bad but it made things interesting for a bit! Thanks for your comment.

  2. Wow! I hadn’t heard about this one. I’m curious: Do you know how long the site was hacked? Just how much apologizing did they have to do? In other words, just how present were they? And do you think Crayola’s stance would/should have changed if the hackers had done a slightly better job? I mean, this is so obviously NOT the usual Crayola content that I can’t imagine anyone would be fooled. But what if it had almost seemed plausible, like it was just courting a slightly older demographic the way you described? Would that require a more nuanced stance on Crayola’s part? But this is a great example.

    1. Eric,

      They say the hack happened over a weekend and was regained by Sunday night. I feel like I saw adult-themed posts for longer than that though. Not until I saw the really bad ones did I realize it wasn’t just an attempt at reaching parents through some new humor with an edge. I think they set some scheduled posts and really weren’t paying much attention to the Facebook page for a bit and they just simply missed it. I wonder if maybe there was something going on for a little longer and they didn’t feel the need to address it because it didn’t scream inappropriate initially.

  3. While I heard about Crayola’s hack, I never realized how cold and basic their response and apology was. I don’t feel this situation ended up hurting Crayola’s reputation in the end, but they definitely could have handled their responses with a little more personality. Taking an example from the playbook of the Red Cross would have been a great way to make light of the situation and apologize to their followers at the same time. Similar to the way Red Cross poked fun at the “Getting Slizzered” hashtag, Crayola easily could have poked fun at themselves and made a joke about their hack. Depending on the creative team at Crayola though, if they aren’t great at thinking on their feet, they may not have been speedy enough to come up with a witty response. In that situation, a prompt response and apology is better than a delayed, humorous one. It sounds like they need Hampton on their team to come up with quick witted responses like no longer using the password “password” for Facebook and Twitter! A response like that would have been perfect to placate their followers and help everyone understand the situation in a casual manner.

    1. Kayla,

      Seriously, just because I’m a Crayola follower doesn’t mean I’m a stiff. To be honest, the majority of my mommy friends have been known to tell a dirty joke or two and enjoy a few cocktails and curse words from time to time. That said, I think Crayola had some wiggle room to have a little fun with it. Some of the followers might be pretty righteous though. So, having fun with it would have to be done in a way not to offend anyone more than they already were. I agree with you about Hampton. That line was perfect!

  4. Hi Erin!
    Wow. This is the first time that I have seen these posts from Crayola. These posts were completely different from the types of posts that are typically created by the Crayola social media team. Surly some people realized that the page had been hacked. After all, what crayon and coloring book company cares about boobs?!

    I really thought that Crayola’s response was appropriate. They were honest an discussed what had happened with the posts. I felt like their response even added to the human side of the brand. Accidents happen and sometimes these types of things are out of our control. Personally, I feel more connected to a brand after something like this occurs. Perhaps as a social media manager, I have empathy for what they are going through. I also think that it was important they they posted more than one response to the situation. To me, this showed that they were on top of things and were actively and vigilantly monitoring the situation in real time. I would be curious to see if the brand gained any new followers from the incident. I actually want to follow the pages now.

    Do you know if there is any correlation between social media management platforms lie Hootsuite being used and an increase in social media account hacks? It seems like more and more often large company’s social media accounts are being hacked. Perhaps they are creating basic passwords that are easily being guessed (ex: Crayola2015). I would be interested in seeing if accounts that use SMM software have a higher risk of being hacked from those that live post.

    Great article. Gave me something to think about!

    1. Whitney,

      It would make sense that a platform like Hootsuite could be targeted. A hacker would then have access to all of the linked accounts. I don’t know if that’s the case here though. Crayola only temporarily lost control of their Facebook page. The Twitter page wasn’t affected. In fact, they used the Twitter account to let their followers know that their Facebook page had been hacked and that they were working on regaining it. That makes me think it was a stand-alone hack job.

      Password security is so important to me. I know of so many people and companies that not only use the exact same password for everything but their passwords are way too basic and easy to guess. I have a different password for everything. I easily have over a hundred different passwords. I have been told I am paranoid but when I hear about situations like these I take comfort in my password practices.

      Crayola definitely responded appropriately to the hack. They showed their competence in handling it and communicated well to their audience. As much as I would have loved to have seen them use a little bit of humor in their response, I can see why they would just keep it simple and sincere. In times like these, we really feel the human side in these types of conversations. They speak directly to us, all marketing aside.

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