The Royal Wedding - A Promo Product Bonanza
May 10, 2011
The wedding of England's Prince William and Catherine Middleton, which practically the whole world knows took place on April 29, has been almost impossible to miss in London for the past few months, and one of the main reasons is the huge number of souvenirs and promotional products that fill shops on nearly every highly trafficked block. While austerity and budget cuts have become the norm in England, the wedding has given tourists a timely reason to visit and locals a reason to spend. The moment the engagement of the two was announced, manufacturers began churning out mugs, plates and commemorative pens. Neil Saunders, consulting director of retail researchers Verdict, predicted to The Telegraph that the sale of royal wedding merchandise could top £26 million [$42.5 million].
Interest in the event was global; in fact, foreign journalists far outnumbered the British press. Walking through the streets of London, visitors come across everything from William & Catherine compacts, commemorative tea tins, ashtrays and shot glasses to pens, cookie tins, book marks, reusable bags, car flags, and yes, condoms. A few examples are shown to the left.
Some promotions offer a more irreverent take on the event, such as a commemorative plate reading “Thanks for the free day off,” a “Keep Calm and Marry On” poster, and “Kiss Me Kate” beer. While many of these items have been sold are through retail channels, many businesses have found a number of other opportunities to capitalize on an event of such national and international interest. According to Annette Scott, CEO of the British promotional product trade association PROMOTA, “products such as flags, pens, hats, mugs and badges are perfect at community parties or business events.”
James Biggin, co-owner of Yorkshire-based Steel City Marketing has seen quite a bit of interest, with clients buying up branded paper crowns, handflags and decorated bunting to incorporate into events they are hosting to correspond with the celebration. But while the prices for William and Kate merchandise can run as high as £1,800 for an 18k white gold replica of Kate's engagement ring, Biggin has primarily seen interest in less-expensive offerings. “It's been bits and bobs really, the very low-end price range stuff,” he said. “Clients want to focus on things that they can give away to kids at their events.” Nevertheless, the event provided a wonderful opportunity for affinity marketing, and the association will continue for some time even though the wedding is over.
Within the UK, everyone must adhere to branding guidelines that limit what can appear on the souvenirs, such as only using approved images of the royal couple and the official Coat of Arms. Perhaps the biggest restriction for distributors is that merchandise using royal photographs or insignia must be “free from any form of advertisement.” Not unlike strategies used to avoid fees for usage of licensed products in the U.S., private brands are often combined with generic wedding and British imagery, rather than the official photos of the Royal couple. For example, a business buying handflags for a royal wedding event often used a Union Jack flag with a central space for the business logo. The association is still there, and connects the business to the event in a positive way. With consumer interest in the event remaining high in the U.S. and around the world, there are still plenty of promotional opportunities ahead.
A related form of marketing involves connecting a brand to a popular cause. For some ideas on that, click here.
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