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The Color Of Money Comes In Different Shades With PM-Crayola

July 8, 1991

EASTON, Pa. (AP) _ For Richard S. Gurin, the color of money comes in hundreds of hues, shades and tones - minus eight.

Gurin is the man responsible for Crayola last summer dropping eight traditional colors in favor of brighter shades more colorfully named. He’s also the man to write to if you want the old colors back.

″I had wanted to stimulate growth in crayons, and everybody told me it’s a big, flat business,″ said Gurin, president of Binney & Smith, which manuacturers the Crayola brand.

Then an idea was born. Crayola researchers were sent off to find a way to not only touch people’s wallets but their emotions as well.

″Adding eight new colors gets no attention, but retire eight colors, and things are different,″ Gurin said. ″We created the controversy that generated the interest, and had much better execution than I expected.

″It was a pure business move.″

Thousands wrote (many in crayon) and preservationists converged on Binney & Smith’s Easton headquarters to protest last summer’s opening of the Crayola Hall of Fame.

Sales of sets with the old colors climbed - the company speculates mostly to adults - and new sets were bought for the younger, more traditional crayon user.

″It made 10 times the impact I expected,″ Gurin said.

As with any major product change of late, comparisons are drawn to Coca- Cola Co.’s New Coke. A change in formula had backfired for the nation’s No. 1 soft drink maker.

Crayola thinks it has a way around any comparisons.

″That’s a different situation,″ said Brad Drexler, a Binney & Smith spokesman. ″They had one product and they changed it to something different and all their customers reacted negatively.

″We changed a small portion, and improved it for the people using it. The only people complaining are the adults.″

The company last August retired blue gray, green blue, lemon yellow, maize, orange red, orange yellow, raw umber and violet blue. It replaced them with cerulean, dandelion, fuchsia, jungle green, royal purple, teal blue, vivid tangerine and wild strawberry.

″I miss a couple of the names - raw umber and lemon yellow - but I don’t necessarily miss the colors,″ Drexler said. ″They were essentially dull colors.″

Still, if it will generate more sales, Gurin would consider restoring the old. ’If enough people badger us, I would consider bringing them back in one form or another.″

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