Friday, July 22, 2011

Birth Of Customized Promotional Items & Branding

David Ogilvy
This is David Ogilvy's Centennial--he was born 100 years ago, in 1911. Ok, so who is David Ogilvy? He was the most famous advertising man in the world, & to a large extent still is (he died in 1999). He was the most important man in the business, changing it in fundamental ways.

In 1955--56 years ago--he delivered a speech to the American Assoc of Advertising Agencies in Chicago where he injected the concept of brand imaging into the marketing world. Brand & brand image are so common in our conversation today that it's hard to remember when they were not with us. With that one speech, he turned the advertising world upside down & marketing was on it's way to becoming what it is today.

"I didn't invent brand image. I pitched it," claimed Ogilvy. He took the idea from an article in the Harvard Business Review & put it into his own sweeping terms. "Every advertisement is part of the long term investment in the personality of the brand, the personality of the company."

He defined branding as we know it today, "Brand image is the personality of your company--a combination of the product, packaging, price & it's advertising style. It's a coherent message you must stick to year after year."

Ogilvy was a genius when it came to marketing & advertising; yet he had no formal training in the field. He was a good salesman & found his niche after being kicked out of Oxford in England & working as a dishwasher in France. He went on to sell stoves door-to-door to nuns, drunkards & everyone in between. When he emigrated to the U.S. he lived among the Amish & worked as a farmer in PA. This was not for him, so at 38, he borrowed money from his brother & started his own advertising agency.

Some of his famous ad campaigns that are still considered to be the best, even by today's standards:

  • In 1951, a small shirtmaker, C. F. Hathaway, asked Ogilvy for help. He created the image of a man with the black eye patch & "The Man In The Hathaway Shirt" campaign was born. This creative campaign ran for 25 years.
  •  For Schweppes, Ogilvy persuaded the client, Commander Whitehead, to appear in his own advertisements. This campaign featuring the distinguished looking, bearded Brit in various ads & commercials ran for 18 years.
  • For Rolls-Royce, Ogilvy used the headline: "At 60 Miles An Hour The Loudest Noise In This Rolls-Royce Comes From The Electric Clock." This remains the most famous automobile advertisement of all time.
  •  And remember Lifesaver's "The Candy With The Hole"......guess who?
The concept of brand image was not entirely new in advertising circles, but after putting the spotlight on it, Ogilvy was dubbed the "apostle of the brand image". Brands took on greater importance as products became increasingly similar & competition rose. Today branding is an absolute must in all forms of advertising including customized promotional items. 

Do you know when the first promotional custom product was distributed? It was at George Washington's inauguration in 1789. Commemorative buttons were handed out.

Then in 1891, The Wrigley Company took advertising to new heights. At that time they sold soap & baking powder. To get an edge on their competition, Wrigley included a promotional imprinted product in each package. Can you guess what the give-away was? That's right......chewing gum with their name on the wrapper.

Original Package of Juicy Fruit
The gum that was included in every package of baking soda was more popular than the product it was designed to promote. A year later, William Wrigley Jr introduced a new gum called Juicy Fruit. And so began the world's most popular & successful chewing gum business. Now that's a 5 billion dollar history lesson in promotions & marketing.

There's no way you can now give out the first customized promotional item nor will you reach the level of success that The Wrigley Company did; but you can still be successful in distributing promotional products with your logo on them. If you do nothing, you are missing out on an efficient & economical way to gain company recognition.

Promotional items  should be part of your brand. If David Ogilvy was still alive, I'm sure he'd agree.
Ronni Sherman


  1. I didn't know that Juicy Fruit started out as a promotional item. It's good that I came across your blog and acquire the information from you. Thanks for sharing.

  2. Yes, you have to be keen with the details when it comes to your give-aways for it will serve as your company's face to its users.

  3. Promotional products are great strategy for marketing your business. Most of products are very cost effective so take advantage of these cheap promotional products.
    promotional items