Every single day, effective advertising campaigns using promotional products are happening right under our noses. Think about it – promotional product campaigns are unfolding every day, from big businesses to small brands that focus on their niche target market.
You may have heard of some of these larger scale campaigns, but take some time to appreciate the promotional genius of the smaller niche campaigns! Promotional product campaigns are an effective marketing strategy for generating brand exposure. Note the promotional takeaways of each campaign so you have pointers on how to implement an effective promotional product campaign of your own.
1. Tony Hawk's Twitter Scavenger Hunt
@tonyhawk implements an annual promotional product campaign on Twitter using the hashtag #THTH14. The annual campaign started in 2012, so the last two numbers in the hashtag change yearly; the 2015 hashtag was #THTH15 – you get the point.
Dubbed "Twitter Hunt," Hawk’s promo campaigns took place in the form of a scavenger hunt that spanned the entire globe. Here’s how it worked: on behalf of Hawk, over 80 boxes filled with branded merchandise were hidden in major cities across the world. Participants would then have to pay close attention to Hawk’s Twitter account, as he begins tweeting clues about the mystery cities.
Lucky Hawk followers who found the boxes then had to reply to @tonyhawk on Twitter with the campaign hashtag, a photo of themselves with the branded merchandise, and the location where the box was found.
The boxes contained different combinations of promotional products, but some of our favorites were custom embroidered caps, promotional drinkware, and of course, the logoed specialty sports items like bikes and skateboards with custom designs.
- Promotional Takeaway: Tony Hawk has a niche target market, and his annual promotional campaign proves that investing in promo products can go a long way if you know your target audience. Additionally, this campaign proves that higher quality promotions are needed for an effective marketing strategy; using higher quality items instead of cheap giveaways as gifts is a promotional product trend for 2017 that is demonstrated with this campaign. Great job @tonyhawk, we hope you bring back this promotional campaign for 2017!
2. House of Cards Season Premiere
Here’s a clever campaign that was meant to promote the popular Netflix original series, "House of Cards" fourth season, which premiered in March of 2016. A short time after Super Tuesday, Netflix mailed viewers promotional Frank Underwood pins and stickers accompanied by a note from the fictional President:
"We've been through a lot together. Now it's time to get our hands dirty."
Kudos, Netflix – talk about a promotional product campaign done right! We can’t wait to see what they have in store for season five, which premieres May 30th, 2017.
- Promotional Takeaway: Timing is everything! Netflix was able to execute an effective promotional product campaign due to strategically timing the giveaway to take place around Super Tuesday, a pivotal date for the U.S. Presidential election. Successful promotional product campaigns all have one thing in common: they were extensively planned and timed. Be sure to order your promotional products in advance to give yourself enough time to order and craft the perfectly timed promotion.
3. Starbucks 2016 Holiday Cups
Here’s another annual promotional product campaign: Starbucks holiday cups. The original use of the red holiday cups began back in 1997 and updates with a slightly new design each holiday season. We particularly enjoyed the holiday cups of 2016, which incorporated original designs submitted by customers. In the end, 13 customer designs were chosen and implemented into Starbucks’s yearly promotional product campaign and distributed in stores.
- Promotional Takeaway: Starbucks 2016 holiday cup promotional campaign was widely successful compared to cup designs of past years. The product – the cup itself – remains the same each year, so why is this? The immense success of this cup proves that a promotional product’s graphics and design are equally as important as the product itself. Also, Starbucks effectively engaged their audience by including the creativity of their own customers in the campaign. It's always important to consider how to engage and delight your customers. Promotional products are only effective with a strategic design, and Starbucks’s customers nailed it this year!
4. Coca-Cola's Happiness Truck Campaign
Coca-Cola’s Happiness Truck campaign that began five years ago involves a red truck branded with Coke’s logo traveling around the world distributing “happiness.” Depending on the location of the truck, different items were given out, some promotional product related and some not.
The video above shows the truck’s stop in Malaysia, where local residents lined up to receive items like logo t-shirts and Coke bottles. Though the campaign received mixed reviews from critics and professionals in the marketing industry, we wanted to highlight the genius of the truck itself being branded with Coca-Cola’s company colors and logo. As a result of this promotional campaign, the Happiness Truck became an icon for the brand and added a whole new layer of personality to the company.
- Promotional Takeaway: Company vehicles can be a great method of promotion for your brand. Think about it – a branded company vehicle is an on-the-go promotion that exposes your brand to everyone that lays eyes on the vehicle. We’ve designed and implemented truck wraps for our clients that are ideal for brand consistency.
5. Discovery Channel's Shark Week Surfboards
Everybody loves Shark Week – it’s a themed week of television that has become a staple program for our summers. Discovery’s Shark Week dates back to 1988 and has amassed a dedicated following of viewers, so it makes perfect sense that the marketing professionals for the week-long TV program would dabble in some promotional fun.
In 2009, branded surfboards with an ominous shark bite were distributed throughout multiple Australian beaches to promote the week-long television program. The boards caused quite a stir among beach goers curious about the unusual promotion.
- Promotional Takeaway: Discovery’s use of a promotional item to advertise Shark Week is a lesson that promotional products can be informational. In addition to the program title and brand logos, the surfboards provided the date and times that Shark Week programs would be aired. What a great way to get potential viewers to tune in!
6. IAMS Dog Frisbee Giveaway
Here’s a small, yet effective, promotional campaign from 2009 that is still making rounds on the internet today. IAMS Australia took to a local dog park to give out promotional barbell Frisbees for dogs sporting the phrase “Strong Dogs – IAMS Dog Foods.” The Frisbees were given out to pet owners and their dogs to play with for many park trips to come.
- Promotional Takeaway: You don’t have to know much about IAMS as a brand or its specific products to understand the message behind this promotional Frisbee shaped like a barbell; IAMS used a creative giveaway to demonstrate that their product makes dogs stronger. In addition to effectively communicating a core value of their brand and product, IAMS gave dog owners an incentive to consider their brand the next time they shop for dog food.
7. Colgate's "Don't Forget" Lollipop Campaign
I’ve touched on the effectiveness of edible promotions before - treats have the special ability to make a heart-warming connection with the recipient. That being said, why would a toothpaste company use a sugary treat to promote their brand? It all comes down to the strategic message behind the promotion.
Upon finishing the lollipop, a stick shaped like a toothbrush with the Colgate logo and the message “Don’t forget!” is revealed to the consumer as a reminder to brush their teeth after enjoying a sugary snack. Colgate gave out these small products during annual events like “Oral Health Month.”
- Promotional Takeaway: This campaign provides two valuable takeaways - the first being to know your target market. In this case, Colgate was targeting their consumer group of children, and age group that needs help with the basics of oral hygiene. This leads into the second takeaway: ensure your promotional product campaign has a strategic message. Colgate effectively communicated that it’s important for their consumers to remember to brush their teeth daily, especially after a sweet treat.
Components of Successful Promotional Product Campaigns
Conducting a promotional product campaign isn’t as easy as coming up with a creative idea and letting it rip. There are components of an effective promotional product campaign that must be met to ensure your campaign is successful. Here are a few things you should consider when planning a promotional product campaign:
- Determine your overarching goal for the campaign. Are you simply looking to generate brand exposure, or do you want people to click through to your website? Establishing the campaign’s goals will help guide your promotional product strategy.
- Know your target audience for the campaign. For example, your company may have established multiple buyer personas, but is there a particular consumer group you’re trying to target with this campaign?
- Plan ahead. Leave yourself plenty of time to order promos, receive samples, and plan and implement the campaign.
- Establish a message. What are you aiming to communicate to your target audience? How will the promotional product campaign help you do this?