HarperCollins has teamed up with Honey Maid to launch one of the inaugural projects of Made Co., an initiative aimed at helping kids realize their creative potential. The publisher’s collaboration with Made Co., whose tag line is “We take winning ideas and make them into real things,” involves an online writing contest for children ages six to 12. The winner of the contest, which invites kids to write about the funniest or most memorable day they could ever imagine having, will travel to New York City for a one-day writer’s workshop with My Weird School series author Dan Gutman at his publisher’s headquarters. He or she will work with Gutman and HarperCollins Children’s Books staffers to turn her or his idea into an actual book, of which the publisher will produce 10 copies.
Made Co. grew out of Honey Maid’s interest in reinventing the brand, whose line of snacks includes Honey Grahams and the new Grahamfuls, and making it more relevant to kids, according to Katie Butler, senior brand manager of Kids Wholesome at Mondelēz International, Honey Maid’s parent company.
“Looking through our print ads over the years,” Butler says, “we found ads showing kids in the 1940s consuming Honey Grahams as an after-school snack before going out on a paper route or to support the war effort. Honey Maid has also fueled kids’ creativity through things like building graham cracker gingerbread houses and making S’mores. We realized we have an opportunity to become a bigger part of their lives by inspiring them to be creative in other ways, and Made Co. is a great way to do that.”
In addition to the writing contest with HarperCollins, Made Co.’s launch projects (all described on the Made Co. Web site) include a contest to create a similarly themed, most-memorable-day-ever comic strip featuring Disney’s Phineas and Ferb, whose winner will win a digital art tablet and a trip to L.A. for a drawing workshop with a Disney animator; and a contest to create a heroic character that will be incorporated into an upcoming game on Miniclip.com, the winner of which will learn about how that is achieved technically and will win a mobile device filled with Miniclip games and a private launch party for the new game featuring his or her character. Videos offering a behind-the-scenes look at each winner’s creative process will be made and posted on the Web site.
Butler notes that the selection of partner companies for Made Co., which was developed in collaboration with the advertising network, Droga5 New York, was made to showcase a spectrum of young talent. “We thought carefully about our potential partners, since we wanted to tap into the different types of talents kids have,” she said. “We wanted to fine terrific creative partners who are passionate about what they do and would give children the chance to be creative in a variety of ways.”
HarperCollins Children’s Books was happy to sign on to the Made Co. initiative. “We share Honey Maid’s goal of encouraging kids to make and create, and we are excited to be involved at such an early stage of what will be an ongoing program,” says Diane Naughton, v-p of integrated marketing. “We are constantly getting questions from young readers about how books come to be, and we thought this would be a wonderful opportunity to help kids understand the process, as well as to encourage their creativity.”
Selecting Dan Gutman as the author to hold a writer’s workshop with the contest winner was not difficult, Naughton explains. “We immediately thought of Dan for this project. As the author of over 100 books for kids, Dan has a clear mission in life is to get kids excited about reading and writing,” she says. “He’s always working with kids and explaining his writing process, so much so that he’s has written a book for aspiring writers.” HarperCollins will release that work, My Weird Writing Tips, in June.
Gutman, who will select the winning author in conjunction with HarperCollins and Honey Maid, registers high enthusiasm for the writing contest. “I think it's so cool that one kid in America will get to come to New York, visit HarperCollins, and have their words turned into a real book,” he says. “That's better than winning the lottery! That's better than winning the Super Bowl! And for me to be chosen to work with that boy or girl is a real honor. We're going to create a masterpiece!”