Rubik's Cube blending old-school charm, new-school marketing

Posted on Thu Jun 18 2009


Back in 1980, an obscure toy from Budapest, known locally as the Hungarian Horror, appeared on American shelves. The 3-D puzzle was re-named after its inventor, Erno Rubik. And, well, you know the rest.
  Rubik's Cube is still a remarkably popular diversion (350 million sold to date). But 29 years ago, the Cube was competing with Scrabble, not the Xbox. So, Rubik's owner, London-based Seven Towns Ltd., has lit upon a 21st-century marketing message: The Cube is good for kids' self esteem. The new "You CAN Do the Rubik’s Cube!" program for kids includes a Web site,, with an all-inclusive e-tutorial to help kids cut through Rubik's 43 quintillion configurations and, in the process, gain "confidence and a great sense of pride." The site features a "Cuber Corner," where kids can post encouraging messages for one another, and a "Math Twist"—directions for teachers who want to incorporate the Cube into algebra and geometry lessons. Testimonials include those of "Bryan," 14,  who affirms that after solving the Cube, "I felt smart."
  Good for him—and for the brand. In an age when parents are snapping up Baby Einstein videos and worrying whether Junior will get into Harvard, Rubik's new message should ring loud and clear. Plus, it's just nice to see an analog game finally running with the digital dogs. The Web site also features videos of celebs like Tiger Woods and Will Smith solving their Cubes. And while they don't say it, the message is clear: Smart is cool, kids—and you don't even have to bug your parents for batteries.

—Posted by Robert Klara



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