How Evoking Creativity From Children Can Lead to the Next Big Idea

Kids have quite a few tricks up their sleeves when given the right resources

Elmer's Ooey Gluey Slime Games held slime-related competitions for kids, like the Brightest, Coolest Texture and Biggest Slime Bubble.
Elmer's Glue

“What is the next big idea?” That’s the question marketers and agencies get asked all the time.

While many people suffer from big idea burnout, there’s a never-ending source of big ideas right under our noses. Walt Disney put it best when he said, “Our greatest natural resource is the minds of our children.” And while most people would readily acknowledge the creative power of the adolescent mind, the under-18 crowd is usually left out when a brand runs a contest asking for the best ideas since over 90 percent of contests are only open to adults. Anyone familiar with running promotions knows there are very rational reasons for this, the most obvious being all the legal hurdles required to allow kids to participate. But for some brands, cultivating the best ideas is worth a little more effort.

Here are a few inspiring examples of how brands unleased the creativity to achieve specific strategic objectives.

Keeping a trend relevant

Tapping into a trend can be a boon for a brand’s sales. In the second half of 2016 when the slime craze hit, sales of Elmer’s glue more than doubled, according to CNBC. Demand was suddenly so great that there were widespread shortages of Elmer’s, which prompted the brand to increase production.

To keep the slime trend alive, Elmer’s launched the first-ever Ooey Gluey Slime Games to occur this summer. The contest invited anyone over the age of six to express their creativity (utilizing Elmer’s glue) and show off their unique slime-creating abilities. By guiding participants through a series of six different slime making competitions, including Brightest, Coolest Texture and Biggest Slime Bubble, the brand is creating more reasons for kids to continue making slime and purchasing Elmer’s glue.

When developing a program, find the balance that safeguards the desired outcome without limiting the creativity of participants. The Ooey Gluey Slime Games’ six different slime making competitions are designed to inspire creativity and ensure submissions convey the range and versatility of slime-making fun.

Activating consumer insight

For years, consumers have loved sharing the interesting shapes they see in their favorite orange snack food on social media. Frito-Lay has embraced this organic consumer advocacy by giving fans a platform and incentive to amplify it. Last summer, the brand received over 100,000 submissions for its Cheetos Museum contest, which gave participants the chance to have their one-of-a-kind Cheetos formation displayed at the Ripley’s Believe It or Not Museum in Times Square.

Cheetos Museum

In this year’s Win What You See contest, Cheetos is taking the concept a step further by asking fans ages 13 and up to submit a photo of a uniquely shaped snack accompanied with a description of what they see for the chance to win a prize inspired by their creative interpretation. For example, if your Cheetos snack is shaped like a palm tree, you might win a beach getaway.

Repeating a past successful idea doesn’t always generate the same level of excitement or continue to stimulate consumers’ creative juices. Abandoning it altogether could be a lost opportunity to continue to take advantage of a proven equity. The Win What You See contest is a great example of how a brand can evolve a past idea to keep it fresh while maintaining the core elements that contributed to its past success.

Building future consumer relationships

Anyone who’s visited the world’s most popular search engine recognizes Google Doodles as an iconic part of the brand experience. These whimsically artistic interpretations of the Google logo are used to celebrate holidays, seasons, historical figures and more.

For the last 10 years, Google has leveraged the familiarity and creativity of the Google Doodle to build a relationship with kids through the Doodle 4 Google competition. Each year, the contest gives students the opportunity to create and share their own take on the Google logo, based on a specific theme. This year, students were asked to submit a Doodle about What Inspires Me.