I am a huge, huge fan of the HBO original series True Blood. The third season premieres this weekend and I almost can’t contain my excitement. Due to the popularity of the show, I have seen an increase in logo apparel and promotional products in the retail market. I have even been tempted to purchase a custom promotional t-shirt modeled after what the main character, Sookie, wears at her waitress job at Merlotte’s. The most elaborate promotional campaign however involves a “beverage”. Click here to discover Tru Blood
I was shopping the other day at my favorite store, Target when I happened upon an end-cap display of Huggies® Jeans Diapers, diapers that look like designer jeans. As a new mom, I did a double take and went in for closer inspection. The diapers have a faux denim look with back pockets, belt loops and a faux leather patch with the Huggies® logo on them. Is this custom apparel for a baby that is necessary? Of course not, but they seemed to be flying off the shelves. There were only 2 boxes left! I contemplated purchasing a box, but instead I whipped out my phone and took a picture so I could send it to all my mommy friends (and now blog about it).
Guilty as charged: I am a long-time fan of “Sex and the City.” I’ve seen almost every episode of the show, went to the premiere of the movie, and look forward to seeing the movie’s sequel. With young girls now participating in Facebook polls to determine “Which ‘Sex and the City’ Character Are You?,” the series has clearly become one of the cultural phenomena of this generation.
But, as many critics have been saying, is it time for the franchise to graciously bow out before it begins to go stale? Promotional products from brand name laptops to luxury vodka are rumored to dominate the two and a half hour film and you can find merchandise inspired by (and in some cases, featured in!) the movie in stores near you.
Tonight is the Season 10 finale of Dancing With The Stars and there is much anticipation to see who will win the coveted mirrored disco ball. My vote is for Pussycat Dolls singer, Nicole Scherzinger and Derek Hough. I think she is by far the best dancer out there, even if she does sing and dance for a living. Her dance to “Lady in Red” was spectacular and Carrie Anne Inaba needs to get off illegal lift patrol… the dance was over! I digress.
One thing I’ve never understood is the blood, sweat and tears that these dancers and celebrities risk all for what looks like a $20 disco ball? Just goes to show you that it’s not all about the actual prize. Here at Pinnacle we are always amazed at what an inexpensive giveaway can actually do for a business. People just LOVE free stuff, sometimes it doesn’t matter what it is.
After I saw Disney’s Up, I left the theater inspired by the touching story, but also curious about its message. More specifically, I noted that the little boy was chubby and adorable and how that association perpetuated our society’s growing problem with obesity. What did his extra pounds add to his character or even the story line as a whole? Nothing.
I shared my ramblings with my mother as we walked out of the theater. Her response? “You’re such a soc major!” And, she’s right. I chose to study sociology in college because I have always been fascinated by people’s stories and moreover, how those stories relate to society.
Thus, there’s no better field for me than marketing; I get to spend a lot of my day thinking about social media and learning about the constantly evolving industry tools. Last week, as I was reading through articles from some of my favorite marketing sources, I happened upon the so-called “Mommy Blogs.” These blogs, mostly written by mothers working from home, range from reviews of promotional products to intimate stories about children and marriages. And, no matter what the topic, I am hooked. Ask anyone in the office and they’ll readily agree that my fondness for Mommy Blogs is bordering on obsession.
Partly I love reading the stories, yet I am also intrigued by the fact that these women share personal details of their lives so readily on the Internet. These blogs are social commentaries about how we share information in today’s digital age and they relate to Acree’s discussion about consumers’ trust and whether or not it’s on the decline. Personally, I don’t think that trust is declining but rather it’s changing forms. I’m not only listening to my friends or to well-respected news sources, I am also checking resources such as Mommy Bloggers. Although they may be complete strangers, their online openness and transparency encourages trust in an increasingly global world.
I encourage you to set aside your marketing or human resources “hat” and think about your consumer instincts for a minute. Do you make purchasing decisions based on a brand’s transparency? I know I do. (When you’re done reflecting, please take a moment and enjoy a clip from Disney’s Up :) )
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If you know me, you know that I have a slight fascination with all things zombies. Now don’t get me wrong, there are many people that take this a little bit further than me… but I won’t name names here.
I’m not sure what causes this morbid interest in all things undead. Is it the staggered walk? The violent nature? Or the trigger that causes these bodies to rise from the grave? Whatever it is, it’s pretty darn intriguing to me.
So with that said, my colleague, Acree, politely addressed an issue that I have that intrigues her, not unlike my curiosity regarding the walking dead. The issue that arouse during conversation yesterday was my undying, love for promotional products.
The typical day here at Pinnacle naturally involves working with a large number of promotional products from a variety of product categories. Yesterday, Acree came across a tumbler during her daily duties that raised a question. Being relatively new to the industry, she wondered about one of the features of the Spirit Promotional Tumbler.
Being one of my favorite pieces of promotional drinkware (on my continuously growing list of favs), I have an intimate knowledge of this peppy little piece. I answered her question in a snap, followed with a chuckle-inspiring tale involving my husband, dancing, the term “lifesaver” and the Spirit Promotional Tumbler.
This story was followed by her question, “just how many promotional products do you have?!”
Ummm. This my friends, was an eye-opener.
I think I might just enjoy promotional products a teensy bit too much. But then, I’m not really ashamed. I have a case of the promotional product crazies. And I’m okay with it. I might never know why. I might never get over it. I just fancy some products, and I’ll keep on saying it!
With that said, if you ever need to know about a promotional product found on our site, I might just be able to help. And you might just get a little story along with it too :).
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We talk a lot around here about the ubiquity of promotional products. Inevitably when someone outside work asks me what I do, I am able to point to some object in my hand or theirs — a coffee cup, branded pen, or t-shirt — and say, “I market those.” They are everywhere, including — as I discovered last night — in my podcasts.
In yesterday’s blog post, Jaime broke down the average cost per impression of a 30 second Super Bowl commercial versus that of a promotional product giveaway. This analysis contains undeniably valuable information regarding return on investment, yet some companies might not have to choose between promotional products and television advertising after all, thanks to increasingly popular product placements in film.
Product placement is nothing new. In the 1950s, prominent soap manufacturers such as Proctor & Gamble and Unilever sponsored the dramatic television shows that we now refer to as soap operas. However, as traditional television advertising has lost effectiveness over the past decade, more and more companies are utilizing “branded entertainment” by placing their name in both television shows and movies.
In Cast Away, Tom Hanks plays a FedEx manager who utilizes the contents of his packages to survive after becoming stranded on a deserted island. During an episode of FRIENDS, two of the main characters spend an entire day trying to recreate the beloved Nestle Tollhouse cookie recipe. And, most loyal viewers of The Office know that Staples is Dunder Mifflin’s biggest competitor. The point is that product placement is often hard to miss.
Promotional product placement, on the other hand, has a much less intrusive nature. I was watching the 2009 blockbuster He’s Just Not that Into You for the umpteenth time last week when my industry-trained eye noticed something new. As an attempt to run into a boy she likes, the main character Gigi cites the need to return the boy’s pen. She shows up at his friend’s bar and pulls out- not just any old pen- but a promotional pen… and so a new love story begins.
I won’t give away the rest of the story, but let’s just say that things turn out well for “the girl with the dentist pen,” as Gigi refers to herself later in the film. Due to the movie’s success, I’m guessing it was a happy ending for the showcased brands as well.
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I mentioned last year how reality television shows can spawn a plethora of marketing and promotional opportunities with the example of Fox’s hit series, So You Think You Can Dance (See blog “So You Think You Can Sponsor”). Continuing on that conversation I thought I would follow up with another popular TV program – American Idol.
Now in it’s 9th season, Idol has remained one of the most popular shows on American television throughout its run (it has been the #1 TV show in the Nielson ratings for the five past consecutive seasons). Another achievement of the show has been the success it has brought to its winners – including fourth season winner Carrie Underwood who rose to fame through Idol to become a multi-platinum selling recording artist, a multiple Grammy award winner, a two-time Academy of Country Music and Country Music Association Female Vocalist winner, and the entertainer of the year.
But beyond these successes, American Idol has also provided the opportunity for many other companies to profit from its popularity – from Idol-branded promotional merchandise to sponsorships. For So You Think You Can Dance it was Unilever’s Snuggle fabric softener that benefited from ties to the show. From my posting mentioned previously: “With its tagline, ‘Simply make a move and feel the freshness,’ they tied the product into the dancing theme and furthered this connection with segments featuring contestants and viewers showing off their ‘Happy Dances.’ Snuggle even had viewers submit their happy dance videos and sponsored a sweepstakes with a top prize of a trip to the show’s finale.” Much like SYTYCD’s sponsorship from Unilever, American car company Ford has taken similar advertising routes through Idol. Idol broadcasts music videos with the contestants and featuring Ford cars as a part of each episode. Last season, the public was asked to answer a series of questions on the American Idol website about these videos to enter a grand prize drawing to win a Ford Hybrid and additionally, a round-trip ticket to Los Angeles, three nights in a hotel and tickets to the season finale of the show.
Even the promotional products industry has taken a means to profit from the show’s status – remember curly-haired season 1 runner-up Justin Guarini? Well he happens to be the spokesperson for industry supplier BamBam’s product the “Rollabana.” (See picture of Mr. Guarini hosting the Advertising Specialties Institute’s first annual Cabaret Night back in November of 2008 courtesy of Michelle Bell, Counselor magazine senior editor and author of Bellwether Blog.) His career has truly blossomed, no?
And finally, I have to mention the nation-wide YouTube phenomena the show has produced including this year’s Larry Platt of Atlanta, GA (Pinnacle’s hometown) whose original song, “Pants on the Ground” has garnered hundreds of thousands of views since its airing January 13. Enjoy!
Team Lead – Multimedia
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The “Happy Meal” debuted at the fast-food chain McDonald’s in June of 1979 as an advertising medium to promote McDonald’s as a family restaurant, especially one for those with small children. It cost one dollar, and along with the choice of hamburger or cheeseburger, small fry, and small drink, also came, of course, the Happy Meal Toy, which in 1979 meant either a McDoodler stencil, a puzzle book, a McWrist wallet, an ID bracelet or McDonaldland character erasers. Since then, children across the globe have been delighting in this kid-sized meal with a side of fun found in cheap, plastic promotional toys.