Top of the Pyramid

  • Mar 10, 2020

Promotional Products are everywhere. Businesses of every size and non-profits of every stripe have them. Problem is, most of them just chose something to “get their name out there.” We’ve been writing for years in this space that the possibilities are so much more. What gets our attention are promotions that deliver results. The annual Pyramid awards given by PPAI are based not on the products but on the results. Here are two more of the winners from this past year.

With NCAA March Madness upon us once again, it was interesting to see what was done last year in the marketing arena. While much of advertising tries for a broad reach, this campaign had a focus on a very specific audience.

Target Audience: NCAA VIPs, Impact Advisory Group, basketball working group, team administrators and hosts, Minneapolis Local Organizing Committee board, staff and volunteers, and ambassador and partner sponsors—a group of 342 people.

Primary Objective: To recognize and thank Final Four VIPs (including NCAA and local corporate sponsors), create an unforgettable impression of the City of Minneapolis by integrating Minneapolis culture into the mementos and to prioritize suppliers based on ethnic diversity and sustainability.

Strategy And Execution: 486 gifts were delivered, featuring distinctive Minneapolis themes, vetted product suppliers with diverse backgrounds. Included were themed, custom-printed inserts for all NCAA gift packages, five days of room drops for the top 36 NCAA VIPs and single gifts for other gifting groups. Local treats tucked into the Taste of Minneapolis gift baskets included caramel corn, granola, nuts, homemade marshmallows and a cookie.

Results: The gifts met the objective of authentically highlighting Minneapolis and its culture and using unique, distinctive products, not more of the same. An NCAA VIP said, “Impressive. I have done this for a long time; your gifts truly represent your community.” The CEO of the local organizing board said, “STUNNING! I have to use all caps. It’s jaw-dropping, gorgeous work.”

NCAA Final Four gifts


Client: University of Iowa Health Care and STEM Education

Audience: The target audience was children in kindergarten through 12th grades, primarily within the state of Iowa in the public and private education system—approximately 20,261 students.

Primary Objective: The internal objective of the science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) program was to increase the total number of students engaged in kindergarten through 12th grade, to increase participation from female and minority students in the STEM program through outreach programs and to grow the number of students participating from rural areas.

Strategy And Execution: Students in kindergarten through 12th grade enrolled in STEM programs at the university hospitals. Strategically selected promotional products that represented science, technology, engineering, and math were used during the registration/check-in, lectures, tours and in the three-hour labs that are part of the STEM programs. STEM participants were given a lanyard and a cinch bag with program information in a folder at check-in. Both items featured a special logo that was visible to participating students throughout the event. Several of the items also featured a consistent, branded look for the university’s health care system and College of Medicine. One item that really stood out was the Rubiks Cube, which featured a unique brand. This product was selected because it encourages problem-solving and critical thinking, which are two fundamental skills inherent in STEM professionals. A custom calendar was created by the college print division and given to professors, schools and legislators.

Results: 20,261 students participated in 159 STEM programs with 73 percent of the participants being females and one-third located in rural areas. This resulted in an increase of more than 4,000 students from the previous year and a 22-percent increase in female engagement.

STEM Education promotion

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“Wise men speak because they have something to say; fools because they have to say something.”

~ Plato

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