Promotional Products Help Recovery
On the weekend of last summer's Formula I U.S. Grand Prix in Indianapolis, tire supplier Michelin North America found that their tires were dangerously incompatible with the newly resurfaced track at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. They were forced to advise teams using their tires - about two-thirds of the runners - not to race. Only six cars ran, to the chagrin of almost everyone there, but especially Michelin, of Greenville, S.C.
It was a potential public relations disaster! Eager to make amends to attendees, the company started by refunding the ticket price and pledging to give away 20,000 tickets this year. “More recently,” says Senior PR Manager Phil Romba, “when we prepared for the 2006 race, we secured FI World Champion Fernando Alonso and five other drivers from Michelin-shod teams to participate in the autograph session on the opening day of the race weekend.”
The company also used promotional products in the campaign. But another roadblock was ahead. “As we planned for the autograph sessions,” Romba explains, “we learned that we couldn't have any signage in the area to promote Michelin. So we came back to the Speedway with ideas for giveaways to fans that they could use for autographs — and that would become visual reminders for television and for other fans.”
They created 2' x 3' flags featuring the Michelin Man mascot, as well as branded T-shirts and baseball caps. The company gave away 8,300 items at their events and to fans walking in from the parking lots each morning. In addition, they donated $5 for each Michelin tire sold by local dealers, for a total of $40,000 to the Boys and Girls Clubs of Indianapolis for their Race Against Drugs program.
Did the efforts work? “Fan reaction was very, very positive,” Romba says. “We left Indianapolis knowing that FI's future in the U.S. looks strong. Fans appreciated our giveaways. Our dealers made an investment in the well-being of the Indianapolis community.”
Avoid Corporate Gift Nightmares
Knowing a person's dietary restrictions can make all the difference between an appreciated food gift and one that goes to waste. Andrea Nirenberg, president of The Nierenberg Group, a communications consulting firm, was a vegetarian when she received a package of Omaha Steaks from a business associate. As the gifter knew her well enough to have known better, it was clear that the steaks had been sent out blindly en masse. By giving everyone a steak, the associate probably figured he'd save some time, while also appearing considerate. Instead, he ended up losing face in front of one of the very people he was attempting to thank.
As CEO of Le Gourmet Gift Basket Inc., Castle Rock, CO, Cynthia McKay was featured on the cover of a national women's magazine. Shortly after the issue hit the stands, she received a package from a certain vendor who hoped to gain her business. The gift consisted of some facial creams carried by the company as well as a nice note from the vendor mentioning that she had seen the magazine cover. However, what floored McKay and sealed this vendor's fate was the inclusion of a certificate for a free plastic surgery consultation. “Apparently the vendor's brother-in-law is a surgeon in Denver,” explains McKay. Needless to say, this salesperson is not a preferred vendor.
The Six Rules of Corporate Gift Giving
Whenever brainstorming for corporate gift ideas, always run your potential choices by at least two people. With the input of others, you will be less likely to give a present that could be taken in the wrong way.
If you give a functional gift, like electronics, test out the product beforehand to catch any defects and make sure it is easy to operate. No one wants a toaster that burns or a digital clock that's impossible to set.
Send a perishable food gift ahead of the holiday so that your giftee will likely be around to receive and enjoy it in time.
Inquire about the person's dietary restrictions or possible food allergies. When giving food items, make sure that the contents are clearly labeled.
Even the smallest touch of personalization can make all the difference. Find out what the little things are that make your giftee happy.
If you'd rather give gift cards, you can still personalize them. Gift cards to large stores can mean your money might go to necessary and utterly forgettable items like groceries or tube socks. Buy a gift certificate (preferably one that includes your company's logo on it) to a recipient's favorite boutique or specialty store that will help them pursue their hobbies.