Bic is celebrating the 50th anniversary of its iconic 4-color pen by releasing a special edition with a new purple ink color. In the half century since its release, many people have transitioned to writing primarily on screens and keyboards. How might we show people that writing is still fun with the Bic 4-color pen?
An advertising campaign that uses integrated environmental design elements—created with the ink colors of the Bic 4-color pen—to attract the limited attention of viewers through surprise and delight. This is achieved by using perspective illusions to make imaginary objects interact with real people and background objects in eye-catching ways.
Drawing colorful doodles on lined paper is a right of passage for kids. Many adults, sadly, have outgrown their fascination with colored pens and exclusively use screen based devices for their writing.
Originally released in 1970, the Bic 4-color pen became an instant classic. The pen—which perfectly blends function and fun—was a favorite of schoolchildren and professionals alike, offering a recognizable color palette. Certain ink colors became associated with specific use cases: red for teachers to provide edits and grading, blue for document signatures, and green for shipping. Although used less commonly today, the Bic 4-color pen is still beloved for its utility and nostalgic charm.
Our group began by exploring the fun aspects of writing and drawing with pens. We concluded that many adults have fond memories of using multi-colored pens while growing up, and that this nostalgia could be leveraged to make a connection with viewers through surprise and delight. We settled on the tagline “Make life less boring” to capture the playful nature of our campaign.
While exploring concepts, we zeroed in on an idea that would apply environmental designs in proximity to real objects to create hilarious perspectives for the passerby. We first explored this concept by creating an octopus doodle that would be placed just below the window of a bus to make a bus passenger appear to have tentacles. Next, we applied this same perspective approach to create a scalable ad campaign that would use surprise and delight to remind viewers about the 4 color pen. This campaign would also produce a number of hilarious photo opportunities that might result in viral social media content.
Taking inspiration from graffiti and doodles, we used simple illustrations—drawn in the four colors of the Bic pen—to create cartoons that live within the real environments of the city. We placed these ads atop a photo of classic lined paper, which most viewers will associate with school and childhood. Our typeface and drawings are made to look as if they were created by the Bic pen itself, resulting in a whimsical, informal tone to remind the viewer that this product is about fun.
We extended the reach of the campaign by creating several in-store displays that would share the same concept. Again, we focused on finding ways to attract the limited attention of shoppers through the use of surprise and humor. 
Every aspect of our concept from brainstorming to art direction was shaped by a simple question: does this make writing look fun? With this as our guide, we produced a memorable and scalable campaign that successfully advertises Bic pens by attracting attention and forming a connection with viewers through humor. Who doesn’t love seeing a human octopus riding on a bus?

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