Connecting with Colour: CIL’s Paint Chips for Men Campaign

vanessa.parks    November 12, 2013

In a world where social media has become commonplace, marketing campaigns need to do more than just grab your attention – they need to connect with the consumer.

Social media allows companies to encourage dialogue with their consumers, engaging them and helping build a strong brand. In his article Brand Building: Connecting with Consumers Through Social Media, Jose Costa argues that “social media affords us a great opportunity, the ability to build relationships directly with consumers” and “help develop an emotional connection between a brand and its users.”

Costa warns, however, that “it has to be real. It has to be done right, with a genuineness of purpose if it is truly to be a two-way communication and not merely another brand monologue.” Truly successful campaigns do more than move their marketing efforts to social media – they use social media to get consumers to participate in the development and communication of their brand.

CIL gets it. In 2011, the Canadian paint company launched its social media based Paint Chips for Men campaign. Consumers were invited to visit CIL’s Facebook page where they could rename a variety of CIL colours, or like names posted by others.

See what CIL has to say about the campaign:

Alison Goldman, marketing communications manager at CIL, explains that the original idea behind the campaign was to “do something hilarious.”

“Paint is such a, I don’t want to say dull, but it’s a less than fascinating product,” Goldman says. “No one else in the paint industry is funny. Every competitor is about the design and the warm fuzzy feelings you get from the colours. We hoped to appeal more strongly to the millenium generation who are going to be just starting getting into painting — new homebuyers, first-time homebuyers, students.”

Rather than focus on the product itself, “a message that is sometimes easily lost” amidst competing campaigns, Goldman explains “we wanted a promotion that would be distinguishable from our competitors. Something that would drive traffic.”

Which is exactly what it did. According to Jeremy Taylor in his article 5 Outstanding Facebook Marketing Case Studies, during the 45-day campaign, over 15,000 paint chip names were created with over 20,000 unique users spending an average of 10 minutes using the app.

The result? Paint colours like “Beer Foam,” “Deathstar” and “Sucker Punch.” Not to mention well over $1 million in earned media exposure and a 10 per cent increase in sales.

And CIL is at it again. This approach to marketing, through which the company encourages consumers to connect with their products in unconventional ways, has continued to drive CIL’s marketing campaigns. This fall, the company ran its Colour Outside the Headlines campaign, connecting CIL colours to seasonal and current events.

Ever wondered about the shade of a black cat?

black cat_CIL

What about the colour of the newly-discovered Lythronax?


This latest campaign invites you “to see how your world can change through colour with CIL paints.” Again, CIL is connecting its products to the real-world experience of its consumers.

CIL knows colour – and how to connect with consumers.

Lessons for others

Truly successful marketing campaigns do more than just advertise – they engage with consumers, creating dialogue and building brand.

Web references

Jose Costa, Brand Building: Connecting with Consumers Through Social Media
Jennifer Horn, CIL Paints a Manly Promotion
Melissa Leong, Paint Colours Given Masculine Paint Makeover by CIL
Jeremy Taylor, 5 Outstanding Facebook Marketing Case Studies

Submitted by: Vanessa Parks, University of Waterloo, SMBP student. To contact the author of this post, email

If you have concerns as to the accuracy of anything posted on this site please send your concerns to Peter Carr, Program Director, Social Media for Business Performance.