Crayola Colored Bubbles: Reputation Management for a 1-Star Disaster


Crayola Colored Bubbles

One of my many brilliant Twitter followees pointed me this week to a hilarious page of Amazon reviews for a product called Crayola Colored Bubbles Wand Set. This piqued my interest because I remember reading an interview in The Believer a few years back with Tim Kehoe, a toy inventor who had been working for more than a decade to develop colored bubbles that wouldn't stain. (You can read an excerpt from the interview online, but the full text is only available in print. FWIW, I seem to remember the whole issue being fantastic. I believe it also included interviews with Will Sheff of Okkervil River and Rivka Galchen, author of Atmospheric Disturbances.)

Kehoe's product was set to be called Zubbles and debut in 2008, but I never heard anything else about them, until now. At first I thought Kehoe sold the formula to Crayola, but it looks like Zubbles are a separate product (highly reviewed, if currently unavailable), and Crayola has developed a competing product. Unfortunately, it would appear from the reviews that Crayola's execution leaves something to be desired. Here are some excerpts:

Paint with soap in it

This is probably the worst Crayola product I have ever purchased. The bubbles are little more than Crayola paint with a tiny bit of soap in it. The bubbles don't even float, they drop like rocks...

Terrified my Son

My son (6) bought these bubbles with his allowance money and immediately ran to the backyard to play with them as soon as we got home. Unfortunately, 2 minutes later he came running back into the house sobbing and I panicked thinking he had hurt himself because his hands appeared to be covered in blood. I asked if he hurt himself and he said "No, it's the bubbles!" Sure enough, the actual bubble liquid in the orange container comes out a dark reddish color at first and very much so resembled blood so if you have squeamish kids like mine, don't even attempt the orange...

What Bubbles?

I couldn't get a single bubble to blow. I mean it was heavy and when I blew it just splatted out. I can blow bubbles. I have been doing it awhile. This was just...boring. It was so insanely messy...

Bubbles of the devil...

These bubbles are HORRIBLE! Shame on you Crayola! I trusted your brand, and you let me down! My son's clothes and shoes were dyed green. It took me 3 days to wash the green bubbles off the concrete. I should have known not to buy these when the warning said: Do not use at a wedding!!!


YOU MIGHT AS WELL GRAFFITI YOUR KIDS AND EVERYTHING YOU VALUE WITH PERMANENT DYE. The Crayola people who allowed this monstrosity on the market should be FIRED. The few 5-star reviews are sickeningly obvious CRAYOLA COMPANY REPS trying to save face. What an even bigger insult! SHAME ON YOU, CRAYOLA...

Will not buy any crayola product until this gets removed and an apology issued

Forget about this being the worst product Crayola has ever made, this is the worst product EVER made by anyone. The fact that Amazon is even selling this is a slight against Amazon...


Ok, the only place these are safe to play without staining is over an open body of water and if your suspended above it. Safest bet—use these in the ocean...

Worst product of any sort I've used in years

I'd like the Crayola product manager for these bubbles to come to my house to scrub the stains off the concrete in front of my house. I suspect that s/he is currently available for such a job. Awful. Awful. Awful. And I'm being too generous...

I think you get the idea. Long story short, this product totally sucks. It has 55 1-star reviews and two 5-star reviews, which, as one reviewer points out, sound like they were written by a Crayola employee:

A mess worth making

I bought these over the weekend and I can't believe all the negative reviews! We had so much fun with the colorful bubbles! I had neighbors coming over to try them out. I had no problems washing them away when it was time to clean up. It came out of light colored clothes, brick, vinyl, cement, and off skin just fine without any traces of blue, orange, red, purple or green left behind. It was great seeing the colors float through the air. They were super messy, and I think because the solution is a bit thicker it took a bit more effort to make the bubbles but it was still a great time and I would buy them again. Not sure why people would use them indoors but I wouldn't suggest that. Buy them and try them for yourselves. I didn't have any problems. Just needed a bit of soap and warm water to clean up. Thanks Crayola!

(This is this reviewer's only review on Amazon.)

Customer reviews are huge and getting huger –surveys indicate that most buyers consider customer reviews much more important than marketing descriptions, as in an order of magnitude more important, when weighing purchasing decisions. Especially if you sell products online, it's so easy for potential customers to check around and see what people are saying about your product, whether those reviews are hosted on your own site or someplace like Amazon, Yelp, or Google. So keeping an eye on those reviews is a crucial part of your reputation management strategy.

If you get one or two negative reviews, there are straightforward ways to manage this. You can reach out to the customer who had a bad experience and try to set things right. This won't always work, but it often does – you save the customer and in some case you can get them to delete or amend the review. (Trying to balance out negative reviews by writing your own positive reviews isn't the best idea.)

But what do you do if 90 – 100% of your reviews are negative? (And in the case of the Crayola colored bubbles, "negative" is really putting it lightly.) This, my friends, is your wake-up call. The only way to manage a situation like this is with a full-on mea culpa, and that means:

  • Issue an apology. You obviously screwed up, so apologize to your customers so you can regain some of the trust you have lost.
  • Offer refunds or some other monetary retribution. When customer satisfaction is this low you really need to be willing to give customers their money back, lest they resent you forever and tell everyone they know.
  • Go back to square one with your product. Crayola, your colored bubbles aren't cutting it. Clearly you spent less than 14 years in the development of this product. Take it off the market and make sure it's awesome before you release Colored Bubbles 2.0.

Web Marketing Highlights of the Week

Georgie at PPC Blog reposted this great video from Converse, describing a brilliantly creative use of AdWords for branding. Major "I wish I thought of that" material:


For more inspiring marketing ploys along those lines, I recommend Damn! I Wish I'd Thought of That, a fun blog I've been following lately, from which I learned about Blu Dot, a design store that left 24 GPS-bugged chairs around New York, an experiment that "generated nearly 60 million Web impressions" and garnered coverage from Fast Company and security blogs.

"Please Exit the Link Building": This long post by Ross Hudgens explains how "good SEOs" do link prospecting, acquisition, reporting and maintenance as part of a truly scalable strategy (using the New York Times' and Reddit's link graphs for inspiration).

"There Are No New Ideas, Just New Buzzwords": AJ Kohn of Blind Five Year Old posits that buzz concepts like "social proof" and "crowdsourcing" are just new names for things marketers have been doing for decades.

Sparksheet talks to Slate editor David Plotz about online publishing models, aggregation, SEO, content farms and Slate Labs, a multimedia journalism and technology experiment.

Real-time marketing can mean big-time bucks, but it's easy to screw up. Read Lisa Barone's tips for doing it without "elephant-sized backlash."

Learn what retargeting is and how to use it to follow your web visitors around like a lost puppy dog until they are overcome with guilt and are forced to take you home. (My stupid metaphor, not Joanna Lord's.)

Have a great weekend!

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Apr 11, 2011

these bubbles were so MESSY!! they blew on to my car because of the wind and STAINED it, i literally had to scrub to get them off. They are very bright and fun when you can get them to blow out because they are so thick. And they dont pop not even when they hit the grass and then when you try to pop them the color gets every where on you! They are hard to blow and make alot of bubbles. I would not suggest to anyone buying these things unless you like to alway be cleaing your sidewalk, fence, car, clotheS everything a million times!!

Apr 25, 2011

This is SOOOO true....These bubbles are the WORST!! My neighbors son looked like a smurf after he played with my son who had gotten the bubbles for Easter..Their new outfits were destroyed by the blue bubbles!! I cannot believe that these were ever put out for sale and I am not being dramatic!! We threw them away immediately!! Like another posting said, these should only be used suspended above a large body of water!!

Elisa Gabbert
Apr 26, 2011

Oh no, another victim! I'm really surprised these haven't been recalled yet.

May 05, 2011

Wish we would have read these reviews before purchasing. This was the worse bubble experience of our families lives. Our back yard looked like someone had a paint ball war, EVERYWHERE!!!!! This was after maybe 1 minute. Needless to say, I was the main target. Horrible product, my kids wre so bummed out. Nice Easter.

Angela Palmer
May 09, 2011

Agree, these are absolutely horrible! I scolded the kids at first for making such a mess until I tried it myself. They are impossible to use without dye flying everywhere. Ruined my daughter's brand new sneakers. I really can't believe that Crayola has this product on the market.

May 11, 2011

This product ABSOLUTELY RUNINED my concrete patio.

Do not chance using it!

I started trying to clean the stains immediately, while it was still wet. I tried everything including a high end concrete cleaning product. Hours of time spent and BRIGHT blue stains all over. Epic Product Fail!

May 26, 2011

All these comments are very true. I got them for my 2 year old daughter thinking that it was a great idea, boy was I wrong. The stains from the blue bubbles never came out of her clothes, most of the bubbles were wasted due to the "no spill" top, and even the dogs fur was dyed blue from this insanely horrible product. Don't waste your money!!

Jun 05, 2011

Chocolate with peanut butter - good. Summertime with lemonade - good. Flying soap with dye... WTF Crayola???

In hindsight, the fact that the Crayola webpage is basically a giant warning label, and that they have a whole website dedicated to instructions for cleaning this moronic product from every possible material, should steer most of us away from letting our kids near it... problem is, these are bubbles... a generally benign summer distraction, so I only read this stuff after I had looked into the backyard to see the utter chaos that kids unleashed in just a few minutes... If I hadn't been up to my armpits in hoses and brushes and green stained stained toddlers, furniture, deck, clothes, shoes, etc..., I might have taken a picture to add to this hatemail.
I have to agree that other than things that will actually harm or maim your kids, this has to be one of the WORST products ever sold...

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Jun 06, 2011

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Bob Gregory
Dec 26, 2011

Crayola Bubbles are a disasterWe bought my grandchild Crayola Colored Bubbles in green and red bubbles. Within 1 minute two children were covered with paint that was supposed to become bubbles, but they were too heavy to float. The instructions said it could be washed out but repeated attempts in water could not take out the product.  I doubt the Crayola Company tried the product before they distributed it to the public. I would recommend staying away from Crayola products until they appologise for the product and take it off the shelves.

Mar 24, 2012

I tried these a year ago, and it made me look like a green mohawk. DO NOT BUY!!!

Jan 08, 2014

I have not seem these before, they sound like they could have been fun if there weren;t so many problems.

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