Books to play

by Graziella Carbone

2007 – The Eraser-Stamps fo the Friends of the Mill 
In the autumn of 2007, a new Back to School promotion was presented: the Eraser-Stamps of the Friends of the Mill.
These were shaped erasers with a double function: rubber eraser and stamp together. Based on each element, the name of the character illustrated in the drawing that appeared on the eraser was embossed in relief. This solution allowed the children to immediately associate the name with the character. It was also a nice way to introduce the new Friends of Milk, Ciock and Al: Tino and Sac, Cao and Cocca, and Mister Goccio (who almost immediately became only Goccio – chocolate drop).
The Eraser-Stamps were completed with a cardboard accessory printed with non-toxic colours to be used as a pad for stamping.
The rubber-stamps of Tino and Sac, Cao and Cocca were special erasers: they had two characters on the same eraser, one on each side.
The whole thing was accompanied by the image of the entire promotion and with the instructions to use the eraser and its pad, printed on a leaflet. Everything was inserted in a box – an updated version which still recalled the famous matchboxes. In its apparent simplicity, this promotion was a real success and thrilled the collectors who for months chased all six subjects, in order to complete the series.
The in-store operation offered a bottle with the image of our Friends. And with the purchase of an extra product, one could also get a bottle case.

2008 – The GameStrips and the Top Erasers of the Friends of the Mill 
In 2008 we witnessed a particularly intense year of promotional operations. The first one, the Game Strips of the Friends of the Mill, covered the months of January, February and March. 
We made five and a half million pieces divided into six subjects, one for each character, in closed format of 8.8×11.5 centimeters, open format 60.1×11.5 centimeters, fourteen pages equal to seven panels, in four-color printing, packaged with five gusseted folds and a last page to close. 
So, in practice, we had a small book where each character presented, according to their characteristics, games, stories and quizzes. The solutions to the games were found on the Friends of the Mill website. On the site, by entering the code printed on the last page, it was also possible to play many new games and find fantastic surprises.
Moreover, in 2008 we had the idea to create a GameBook in which we proposed many fun ways to recycle both the snack packs (with which to make frames and toys), and other common objects such as jeans with which to make bags and caddies. And then, more games and lots of quizzes, in 48 pages of fun. The operation was very popular and since then new GameBooks were published every year, always with different themes and ideas. 2008 was the year in which we began to give very useful markers and coloured pencils during in-store operations, all personalized with the mark of Friends of the Mill. In the summer – in conjunction with the Tour of the Mill that took place at seaside locations – there appeared beach gadgets: the Inflatable Ball and the cheerful Beach Towel. The Back to School 2008 promotion completed the series of useful but always playful items to take along to school. The cheerful Top Erasers were inserted in Pan Goccioli and Flauti pack from August to October for a total of 8,700,000 pieces. The erasers, with hole for the pencil cap, were produced in eight different subjects: Al, Ciock, Milk, Goccio, Cao, Cocca, Sac and Tino were inserted in the little boxes and accompanied by a leaflet. Furthermore, by purchasing two products of your choice – at supermarkets participating in the initiative – it was possible to immediately obtain a useful tin pencil case as a gift. And by purchasing an extra pack, you could also get coloured pencils as a gift. A complete promotion: erasers, pencils and pencil holders.

2009 – MessageCarriers and ComicCreators 
The new in-pack promotion, MessageCarriers, produced in 12.3 million pieces and inserted from January to March 2009 in every pack of Flutes, Pan Goccioli and Tegolino was truly special.
They consisted of detachable tags made of Magnestic (a particular material, suitable to be detached and reattached indefinitely) with the Friends of the Mill depicted in 14 different subjects and a white cartoon bubble, specially designed to be able to write texts and delete them several times. The MessageCarriers could also be aligned and form a strip with a single comic story, to be invented.
Furthermore, by purchasing two product packs in the supermarkets that adhered to the initiative, it was possible to immediately have Game Book 2: Growing up playing in harmony with nature as a gift. The book, 48 pages, entirely in colour, was completed by a large board for the game of Snakes and Ladders of the Friends of the Mill, designed on three of the panels of the cover. And with an extra package of products, the original Friends of the Mill Zig-Zag markers came as a gift.
From August to October a new in-pack promotion took place: the ComicsCreators of the Friends of the Mill, produced in 8,260,000 pieces, consisted of a modular ruler in plastic material composed of seven interlocking segments in three different versions (one for each character : Milk, Ciock, Al and Goccio) and four colours (green, yellow, red and blue) with a stencil to draw parts of the characters, two segments-ruler with soft and hard pencils and a protractor with eraser. Each segment was accompanied by a leaflet with instructions for use. In addition, a CD proposed a course in three different versions to learn how to create comics with the characters of Milk, Ciock, Al and Goccio. The snack trays featured the promotion and some comic stories, while in the stores participating in the initiative you could immediately get the ComicsCreator Album for free, by purchasing two products of your choice, who taught how to draw with the help of CDs. My experience as an artist helped me a lot to prepare the content of the album (among the many things I have done in my life, I also attended the Academy of Fine Arts in Bergamo for drawing and engraving). With an extra package, the Friends of the Mill brush markers were given immediately as a gift. The operation was completed by an art contest on the site.