Do you remember your first Etch A Sketch?

How many of you still have one? I’ll bet those of you with kids have one in your house.

The company is 104 years old and hasn’t had a new PR campaign in decades.

Until now.

Enter a really stupid comment made by a Romney senior aide, who said, for the general election, the candidate could hit the reset button (implying, of course, he may flip flop in order to win votes), making the comparison to how the toy works.

And now the makers of the toy we all had when we were growing up has seized the opportunity with a brilliant PR and advertising campaign and has watched its stock spike last Thursday to $9.65, after trading between $2 and $4 since late 2008. They closed Friday at $5.95.

The “Shake it Up, America” campaign already has a landing page, with ways to follow them on Twitter and Facebook, shop, and even register to vote. They poke fun at politics in general, while maintaining that the drawing toy is politically neutral.

“Etch A Sketch is a lot like politics, there’s a lot of gray area,” reads one ad.

“We have a left knob and a right knob for each political party,” reads another. “(But remember, when both work together, we can do loop de loops.)”

Still other ads encourage viewers to register to vote.

Toys R Us has even asked them to make blue versions of the toy, to go along with the traditional red, and a collector’s edition with etchings of a donkey and of an elephant are due out this summer.

While the agency the company has hired is advertising, the company has gained some serious publicity from taking the bull by the horns and working so quickly. Every national medium – from the Washington Post to CNN – is talking about the campaign and every Presidential candidate and political pundit is using the Etch A Sketch messaging.

Talk about hitting the mecca of PR and advertising. This company has done it. And it’s a great case study in paying attention to popular culture and using it to build your brand…in a good way. A very good way.

Gini Dietrich

Gini Dietrich is the founder, CEO, and author of Spin Sucks, host of the Spin Sucks podcast, and author of Spin Sucks (the book). She is the creator of the PESO Model and has crafted a certification for it in partnership with Syracuse University. She has run and grown an agency for the past 15 years. She is co-author of Marketing in the Round, co-host of Inside PR, and co-host of The Agency Leadership podcast.

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