Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Oooops! Could This Happen To You?

Customized promotional items that try to offer a unique spin on a common product must be carefully scrutinized by a business owner to ensure that such items will not accidentally offend anyone, will not send the wrong message--one you didn't want to be associated with, won't be misused......or worse, not be used at all.

A great example of this is the custom flip-flop with a bottle opener inserted in the sole. Flip-flops are a cost effective way to market a brand image during the summer & obviously the person responsible for this innovation had good intentions in mind.  It was an innovative idea.......a "why-didn't-I-think-of-that" idea, except.........the bottle opener is on the bottom of the shoe where it is exposed to unsanitary conditions. Most people will be turned off by putting the bottom of their shoe on something they're going to be drinking from. This promotional imprinted product will most likely be tucked away at the back of the closet or the bottom of a trash bin & the logo will never be seen.

Here's another example of a bottle opener sending the wrong message. A national car rental agency used to purchase key tags with a branded bottle opener attached. They claimed they were out at non-alcoholic sporting events they sponsored & not to customers renting a car. But still, think of the message they're sending........giving out a bottle opener with your corporate logo on it when it's associated with driving? It promoted drinking & driving no matter where they were given out. Someone must have rethought that strategy because that item was later replaced by others more conducive to their nature of business. So another thing to watch out for--while a promotional item may work in one field, it could be disastrous in another.

One of my customers made this mistake--but be sure they only made it once. An auto dealership was having a bar-b-que to promote a blow-out sale on their cars for an entire week-end. They did extensive advertising, including ads on TV inviting families to the dealership for bar-b-qued hamburgers & hot dogs & games for the children while parents looked at the cars. They ordered flyers (frisbees) from me that were used to put the paper plates in & when the guests were finished they could keep the flyers with the dealer's logo. Good idea, except the bar-b-que was in the parking lot where the new cars were & the kids were soon flinging the flyers all over hitting the cars. Today, this dealership gives out beach balls, plastic piggy banks & coloring books to children.

Also, any message placed on a promotional custom product must be sure to follow good promotional marketing practices. For example, an elementary school in New York received pencils that sported the message "Too Cool To Do Drugs". Again, the promotional item was a great way to promote a positive lifestyle to children.  But unfortunately, the design of the slogan on the pencils was not thought out & when the pencils were sharpened, it would spell out: "Cool To Do Drugs" & eventually: "Do Drugs". The pencils were recalled & altered by imprinting the beginning of the sentence at the eraser end of the pencil.

When a small business places any sort of message on a promotional imprinted product, not only must the statement be politically correct, but it should be permanent. It's so important to not just think of the item you're distributing, but what kind of message are you sending.

While the gaffs mentioned above are extreme examples of mistakes, businesses would do well to learn from them. A general rule to follow in promotional marketing is the more normal, the better. Personalized pens will be used everyday & can be customized in bright colors to make them stand out. It is also advisable to avoid sensitive issues like politics, political issues & war. Unless there is a specific reason, a small business should focus on neutral subjects like healthy living & be as unique as possible without crossing the line into absurdity.

I hope this helps you from an unforeseen disaster. Think everything out beforehand.  Good luck!
Ronni Sherman

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