Now that’s a clever product tie-in!

What’s the best promotional product to drive home the theme of a marketing campaign or event? It’s a never-ending question. The marketing idea is always more important than the product, but when the two resonate together, marketing magic begins. So here’s one that really caught our eye.

Eraser-shaped USB Drive

The message is painful but pertinent

The Alzheimer’s Association of New Zealand distributed custom USB Thumb Drives in the shape of pencil erasers to deliver their important message: “Alzheimer’s erasers your memories. Save them.” This tragic disease is characterized by severe memory loss, so the handy USB drives , also known as memory sticks, serve as a reminder. At the same time, they provide a means to save “memories”, whether they be in the form of letters, documents, music, or photos.

The promotion was designed to inspire people to learn more about Alzheimer’s. The flip side of the drives includes the association web site, filled with useful information, and ways for people to help out in the battle for a cure.

By the way, that’s an actual functional eraser! There’s no limit to the custom shapes that are possible with imprinted flash drives. We can help you develop one for your campaign, whether it’s a totally custom job like this one, or one of the hundreds of standard styles and unusual shapes. Check out for ideas.

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Did McDonald’s Go Too Far With the Recall?

McDonald's recalled Shrek glassesCompanies who use promotional products as part of their marketing campaigns took notice a couple of weeks ago when 12 million Shrek-branded drinking glasses were recalled by McDonald’s. The paint used to decorate the outside of the glasses was found to contain cadmium, a heavy metal which is known to be a carcinogen when ingested in large doses. The Consumer Product Safety Commission CPSC) has established 75 parts per million as the allowable upper threshold for cadmium. These glasses were well below that level, yet they were recalled as a precaution. Both McDonald’s and the CPSC stated that they posed no danger to children.

The CPSC is known to be working on a revision to the cadmium standard, and the new regulations are expected to be more stringent. McDonald’s chose to take the high road and avoid any public relations questions, which could have resulted once the trace levels of cadmium became public. This was an expensive decision for the golden arches folks as well as their supplier who manufactured the glasses in New York state.

This is the second time this year that cadmium in children’s products has made the news. Earlier, there were recalls of children’s jewelry from retail stores – most notably, WalMart. But those cases were very different. The levels of of cadmium in the jewelry was measured to be as high as 91% – more than 10,000 times the federal limit. All of those items were made in China, which has seen more than it’s share of safety-related issues in recent years. In contrast, CPSC spokesman Scott Wolfson stated “What’s so important is for parents to understand the difference. Children are not at an acute risk; the glasses are not toxic.”

So why was McDonald’s so cautious? Perhaps because of concern about what lies ahead in cadmium regulation. Along with the review in progress at the federal level, 2 states have already passed new cadmium limits, and more may follow soon. Safety is always a paramount issue for consumer-based companies, but even more so when an affected product is part of a marketing campaign. A reputation for safety doesn’t come easily, though it can be lost easily. Tell us what you think.

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What’s up with cotton?

Two things are up with cotton – sales and prices! Organic cotton emerged as a leader within the cotton segment when a green image is important. Sales of organic cotton increased 35% last year, in keeping with a decade-long trend.  Retail giants like Walmart and Nike are leading the charge, but corporate apparel makers such as Anvil Knitwear are high on the growth list as well. “As corporations lay out sustainability philosophies, they realize they need to market and put their messages on environmentally friendly product,” says Anthony Corsano, Anvil president.

We may see some changes based on recent developments in cotton prices. Since 2006 there have been gradual increases, but 2010 has been a different story.

  • Cotton prices are up 55% from last year.
  • Fuel, transportation, and labor costs continue to rise.
  • Demand for cotton has increased globally.

Cotton prices have increased 55% in the past yearThese factors have increased costs for everyone in the apparel industry:

  • Mills have increased their prices to apparel distributors.
  • Mills are offering fewer special discounts on styles.

A little extra planning can help. If environmental impact is important in your clothing selection, consider bamboo. Fabrics made from bamboo are incredibly soft, breathable, and comfortable. For special occasions such as trade shows, check with us about closeout specials. Though supplies are limited, there are some great deals available when a mill decides to close out a style. These cover the full range of fabrics, cotton included. If environmental issues don’t impact your corporate apparel program, there are many polyester blends that are budget-friendly, as well as being top performance fabrics.

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Go Green

Green products abound
With 70 percent of the Earth covered in water, it’s a wonder we don’t say “go blue.” But “go green” is how the environmental movement was branded. So take a cue from earth lovers and tie in to the good feelings of environmentalism. International Earth Day is observed yearly on March 20, with the U.S. counterpart shortly behind on April 22. Do your part to clean up this place. Here are a few ideas for products that can carry your message while helping the environment:Grow together. A Bag-That-Blooms is the perfect way to celebrate the environment. It’s a recyclable garden bag and mailing piece – all in one! USPS approved, it contains soil mix, nutrients and the seeds of your choice, and it weighs less than two ounces. Recipients just open the bag and add water and sunlight to see a garden that will bloom right inside the bag for months.

Bag it up. Who knew recycling could look so good? Bright and colorful, Spectrum Bags are made from 25 percent post-consumer recycled materials. Bags are available in 26 colors.

Save Money. Talk about coming full circle. The recycled piggy bank is made of retired currency! Also available made from denim scraps and yellow pages. Nothing goes to waste! A recycling message is included in the imprint area. One color imprinted on two sides with additional colors available: pink, purple, red or white.

Earthbound. Created using natural materials, Earth Journals are the ideal tool for teaching and encouraging energy conservation and recycling to individuals or groups. These guides are bound to help create a plan of action and record progress. Each has 50 sheets of quality opaque writing paper with either an 18-page section of energy-related information or a 16-page section of recycling-related information. Choice of 8.5-by-11 or 7-by-10.

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Six Steps To Developing a Promotional Plan

Planning begins with the right target, then the right promotional product

What's your target?

Successful promotional campaigns don’t happen by chance. To realize goals, promotional products programs must be carefully planned, taking into consideration the audience, budget and, of course, the ultimate result to be gained.

  1. Define a specific objective.
    Whether the goal is to increase traffic at a trade show exhibit or to boost sales with current clients, the first step in any campaign is to clarify the purpose of the program.
  2. Determine a workable distribution plan to a targeted audience.
    Distribution of a promotional product is as important as the item itself. Research shows that a carefully executed distribution plan significantly increases the effectiveness of promotional products. For example, a pre-show mailing to a select audience delivers more trade show traffic and qualified leads than simply distributing items to passersby at the show.
  3. Create a central theme.
    Linking a recognizable logo and color to all aspects of a campaign, from promotional products to sales sheets to product packaging, helps create an instantly recognizable image.
  4. Develop a message to support the theme.
    Supporting a campaign’s theme with a message helps to solidify a company’s name, service or products in the target audience’s mind. For instance, to promote its services to small businesses, a bank created the theme “Are you tired of being treated like a small fish?” and sent fish-related products to its prospects along with promotional literature.
  5. Select a promotional product that bears a natural relationship to your profession or communications theme.
    A good example is a company that developed a magic motif for its conference at Disney World. Attendees received magic-related products to tie in with the theme “Experience the magic at Disney®.”
  6. Don’t pick an item based solely on uniqueness, price or perceived value.
    Don’t fall prey to the latest trends or fads. The most effective promotional products are used in a cohesive, well-planned campaign.
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