Caran d’Ache’s first foray into influencer marketing helped the iconic Swiss stationery brand reach a new generation of consumers that were aligned with its brand values of heritage, authenticity and creativity in both its home market and abroad.

For more than 100 years, Caran d’Ache has made beautifully crafted pens and pencils, showcasing the exceptional quality and heritage associated with a Swiss made brand.

To celebrate its 50th anniversary of its classic 849 ball point pen, the iconic stationery brand decided to launch a new collection of pens to help increase brand awareness of its unique historic heritage and brand values as part of its longer-term strategy to attract a younger audience of consumers in Switzerland and abroad.

To do so, Caran d’Ache worked together with DLG to create a special lifestyle influencer campaign, selecting individuals with creative backgrounds in writing, note-taking, sketching and drawing that embodied its brand values of authenticity and creativity. Each influencer helped to represent a different persona of the “Claim Your Style” collection, which featured 6 new pen colours in its 849 ball point pen range.

Caran d'Ache: Photo: Courtesy. Credit: Igor Laski (@igor_laski)

“The Caran d’Ache iconic ballpoint pen is a daily design and fashion accessory that can allow you to express your style and personality,” said Catherine Bagnoud, communication and digital manager at Caran d’Ache. “We wanted to increase our brand awareness within the millennials target group in Switzerland, France, Germany, the US and the UK. It is a target audience (for us) that perhaps internationally isn’t so familiar with our brand, or on a local-level, tends to forget about our brand.”

As part of its wider media plan, Caran d’Ache also created other paid social media activations on Instagram and Facebook, creating a dedicated Facebook quiz aimed at helping users to find their perfect Claim Your Style pen that fitted in with their personalities.

The campaign was a first for the iconic Swiss stationary brand, connecting Caran d’Ache with eight different influencers on social media to amplify its message around its new collection of pens. Targeted at specific markets across the globe, the influencers were invited to become brand ambassadors helping to promote the new collection and the Caran d’Ache brand through co-created content of images and videos.

“We wanted people with a bold style and passion for design, writing and illustration to show the place of writing and drawing in their life,” explained Bagnoud. “We wanted them to ‘take over’ our iconic ballpoint pen and create content with it, expressing their own style.”

“The campaign is really about personalisation, having the style that you really want,” said Anne-Sophie Scharff, social media project manager at DLG, who helped craft the content.

Among the selected influencers were Aurélia Durand, a graphic artist based in Paris, Cyril Vouilloz, a visual artist originally from Geneva and based in Berlin, and Emma Jane Palin, a freelance writer based in the United Kingdom – who all demonstrated a strong link to writing, illustration and graphic design, helping to further amplify Caran d’Ache’s message of authenticity.

“Working with a diverse pool of influencers really helped to strengthen the campaign,” said Scharff. “We had really strong outcomes because our selection of influencers had such a different and unique array of personalities. They each created beautifully crafted content and in their own way too, and it worked really well with the product and the concept of the campaign.” 

Taking place in two phases, the first phase saw seven of the influencers visit Geneva and the Caran d’Ache factory in Thônex as part of three-day trip. Here they were given a tour of the factory and deeper insight into the company’s rich history and the complex processes of making a Caran d’Ache product, from colour-blending to its Chinese hand-lacquering.

The influencers were then tasked with creating their content following the visit, which saw them create dedicated blog posts on their own websites, as well as shared content on their Instagram, Facebook and Twitter accounts, each showcasing Caran d’Ache products in different settings and contexts. In total, they created 81 stories, 29 posts and 4 blog posts reaching 2.3 million people across the influencers’ community.

The content was also well received by Caran d’Ache’s community, driving a high level of engagement across the board. In total, the activation reached 8.6 million people across the whole of social media and drove 23,800 visits to Caran d’Ache’s website.

Aurelia Durand's social media post on Caran d'Ache. Photo: Courtesy.

“We saw really strong engagement from Instagram and Facebook especially on the posts by the influencers,” said Scharff. “We saw that people were really engaging with the influencers’ content especially the manufacturer visit that we organised. It got so many replies …  people really loved the content and it was reflected in the engagement.”

Looking forward, Bagnoud said her main learning from the campaign is that it is key to find influencers with a genuine connection to the brand. “It is important to find people that already know the brand and have an affinity with it, or at least a strong interest in the category,” she said. That way, the involvement of the influencer is much greater and goes beyond what has been agreed, with the relationship turning into a long-lasting friendship."

Cover image: Caran d'Ache and Aurelia Durand. Photo: Courtesy.


About the author

Limei Hoang

Editor, Luxury Society

Limei Hoang is an editor at Luxury Society, based in Geneva. Limei was formerly an associate editor at the Business of Fashion in London. Previously, she spent six years working at Reuters, and has also worked for BBC, The Independent and New Statesman.