Friday, September 19, 2008

December 1st – 7th is Cookie Cutter Week

  • Hold a contest for new cookie cutter designs or other uses for cookie cutters besides cookies. Draw people into your place of business to pick up entry forms and again for the awarding of prizes. Use imprinted kitchen items as prizes.
  • Use cookie cutter week as a backdrop for business-to-business promotions based on the negative connotation of cookie cutter. The idea is that your product or service isn't "cookie cutter." Include shapes appropriate to your industry or business or have custom shapes made to be sent in direct mail pieces.

November 29th is Electronic Greetings Day

  • Invite employees and customers to participate in World Kindness Day by doing random acts of kindness. Provide bowls of fortune cookies with suggested acts of kindness inside, or gum imprinted with acts of kindness, etc., for people to choose from.
  • Give customers or clients almost any imprinted item as an act of kindness on November 13.

October is National Book Month

  • Adopt a first-grade in a school or schools and provide a book for each child along with an imprinted pillow so they can make a cozy reading nook. Imprint the pillow with your company name and logo and a phrase about reading such as, "You can go anywhere in a book." Include imprinted book plates in all of the books.
  • Create a business-to-business promotion around National Book Month. Use copy to the effect, "You won't have to read between the lines if you do business with us. Book a sales presentation today and you'll receive a complete set of ...(you fill in a book set)."
  • Hold a family read-a-thon. Give away imprinted book sleeves, book marks, etc.

Rockin’ Multi-Media Campaign

7-Eleven Rocks Out with Branded Guitar Picks

Convenience store chain 7-Eleven was looking to get consumers to ‘walk this way’ right into its stores with its May Guitar Hero: Aerosmith promotion. To promote the debut of its Full Throttle Frozen Blast Slurpee, it partnered with Coca-Cola, Microsoft and Activision’s top-selling video game Guitar Hero.

Throughout May, consumers could enter codes on Slurpee cups onto for chances to win the game, an Xbox 360 and other prizes. To promote the sweepstakes and new Slurpee flavor, the popular convenience store chain created a mobile tour. Media vans with 6-foot by 12-foot video screens visited select stores where consumers could play the game live.

More than 10,000 custom guitar picks printed with Full Throttle Frozen Blast on one side and on the other side were handed out. “One of the top ways our core customers for Slurpee drinks, ages 13-24, like to spend their leisure time is playing video games,” says Stephanie Hoppe, senior director of marketing of 7-Eleven, Inc. “So it was natural for 7-Eleven to tie-in with the game.”

Giant tear-off pads of posters featuring Guitar Hero and the Slurpee were posted at 484 locations near schools, train station, beaches and other locations. Coupons were also distributed through college newspapers.

The end result: more than a quarter million fans entered the sweepstakes. “We expect to do more online and guerilla marketing as we continue our ‘Summer of Slurpee,’” says Hoppe. In June, 7-Eleven offered Incredible Hulk movie Slurpee cups and miniature character straws. “Customers seem to be coming back this month,” she says, “because sales are up.”

Lookin’ Good On The Links

By Shane Dale

The right apparel can help complete a top-notch golf event. And, don’t forget the logoed golf club covers.

From a high-end polo shirt to a $1 bag of golf tees, every giveaway on the golf course is important. Here are five pieces of advice to consider before choosing apparel and other promotional items for your next golf event.

1. Determine the Crowd
The number-one thing is, you have to consider what kind of people are going to the event,” says Michael Kaufman, owner of Wear It’s At, a promotional apparel distributor. He notes that the type of golf event typically determines the amount of money you can spend on it. “You have to consider budget, too. How much are you prepared to spend per person? A lot of times, these things are for charity and you have to be a lot more frugal.”

Ryan Andrews, president of Venture Marketing, a promotional products distributorship, says it’s important to ask yourself these questions, particularly about the centerpiece of all golf outings: the polo shirt. “How are the shirts being used? Are they handed out at an event to clients, or are they client gifts, or for internal use, or sales rep uniforms? Usually, if it’s a client gift, you’ll want a higher-end shirt than if the shirts are worn as part of an internal uniform.”

Andrews points out that all the big-name golf brands, such as Ashworth Inc., Greg Norman, Cutter & Buck, Tehama, Ping and Nike, have entered the promotional products world. “After you know the usage, determine if a particular brand is important,” he says.

2. Go High End
Many golf events are part of an expensive gathering for valued sponsors or top employees. As such, attendees are going to expect high-quality items, says Ford Smith, a rep for American Solutions for Business, a promotional products distributor. “When you’re doing country club-type deals, you’re going to want to get into some really nice glassware, plaques and different awards,” he says

Kaufman works with real estate companies, home builders and apartment associations that embrace the high-priced products. One of his clients is Peirce-Phelps, a residential heating and air conditioning distributor that hosts a golf event for its “Million-Dollar Club,” a collection of top sales reps. “We did a high-end Ping golf shirt with the logo on the chest, an embroidered ‘Million-Dollar Club’ logo on the chest and a Carrier air conditioning logo on the sleeve,” he says. “It was very, very well-received.”

Many of the classier golf outings feature additional festivities. Pam Bennett, another client of Kaufman’s, is the executive director of the Apartment Association of Greater Philadelphia. Bennett has been running an annual golf tournament for her company’s sponsors for 19 years. “I always give out a very good golf shirt. I’m talking stuff that retails for $60 to $75,” she says.

But the AAGP’s outings are most famous for their luxurious post-tournament dinners, which feature whole lobsters and filet mignon. Accordingly, Bennett orders lobster bibs and cocktail napkins from Kaufman. “We have really nice cloth bibs for each person at the table, and we have the platinum sponsors’ logos screened on to the cloth,” she says. “These sponsors have paid $10,000 a year to have those sponsorships, and in a room with 250 people, to have their name plastered across them makes them very happy.”

3. Be creative
While golf polos are the staple of any golf apparel program, there’s plenty more out there. Kaufman suggests also considering items such as golf umbrellas, rolling cooler bags and gift kits that feature a divot tool and a ball bag clip.

Andrews recently distributed a hybrid golf club – a club that combines the characteristics of an iron and a wood – as a giveaway for the Ronald McDonald House Golf Classic. “All the players were amazed at such a high-end gift, and several players actually used the club during the round,” he says. “This was a high-perceived-value gift, as the charity spent less than $40 for a name-brand hybrid with a logo on the head cover.”

4. Provide Non-Golfing Items
As evidenced by Kaufman’s bibs and cocktail napkins, a great golf apparel program isn’t limited to golf-exclusive items. “Another good suggestion is to throw in some small items if you have an additional $5,” Andrews says. Products like logoed sunscreen bottles that golfers can attach to their bags, or a first-aid kit that fits in the bag.

Smith has done work with a company that sponsors golf outings in Mexico. Many of the company’s employees like to head to the beach when they’re done golfing. He makes sure to cover those needs, too, by providing low- and mid-priced products. “For the beach, consider nice beach towels and tote bags to put everything in,” he says. “Another popular item is oversized T-shirts – a lot of women like those – and of course, sunscreen and lip balm.”

Smith points out that while some may see these items as independent from a trip to the golf course, a lot of folks choose to keep them securely in their golf bags for future outings. “Most people keep an item in their golf bag or their trunk,” Smith says. “These are some really nice items that people keep.”

5. Don’t Forget the Ladies
In the past, nearly all golf wearables were geared toward men. Not anymore, Andrews says. “All clients will enjoy getting a nice name-brand golf shirt, but now the ladies are happy as the apparel manufacturers have greatly improved ladies’ apparel over the last few years,” he says. “It’s more fashion forward, and the sleeves and waists are more fitted.”

Women may be more selective about their attire than men – many women prefer sleeveless golf shirts, for example. So it’s good to get input from the recipients, if possible, before making a selection.

Shane Dale is an AZ-based freelance writer.

Shopping List
Here are the essential items for any golf outing:.
  • Polo shirt: A necessity for the golf course. They are comfortable, performance-based and affordable. They bring company awareness and allow advertising to a limitless client base.
  • T-shirt: Great for giveaways at golf tournaments, and an inexpensive way to promote your brand.
  • Ladies’ golf shirt: Women need a performance-based shirt. They want to be trendy but comfortable.
  • Jacket: This item is always needed any time of year for weather changes. In the fall, golfers will use their jacket in the early morning and evening tee times.
  • Gloves: A staple that every golfer needs and will always use.
  • Hat: Everyone wears a cap while golfing. It’s the perfect accessory to complete your golf apparel.
  • Hat clip: A trendy way to carry your ball marker.
  • Visor: Women prefer a visor to a cap. They’re comfortable and a great look for golfers.
  • Shoe bag: Many golfers find this a useful item, but not necessarily one that they’d buy.
  • Golf clubs: Every golfer wants to find that “magic” club and will always use the one that works the best.
  • Golf club cover and headcover: Like the golf bag, custom covers offer great visibility, especially when they are creatively done.
  • Golf bag: Custom golf bags offer maximum visibility.
  • Golf balls: Like the glove, golf balls are a staple item that every golfer needs and uses.
  • Clear grip: A very cool, unique way to brand a golf club.
  • Divot tool: Every golfer should repair their divots, but they may need to be reminded to do so. This gift is good for the game and the course.

Tee It Up!

These brand-new golf resorts all offer something new for meetings and incentives.
By Gioia Macey

If golfers love something more than golf (if that is even possible), it’s the opportunity to brag about playing on a new course. To score big with meeting and incentive winners, plan an event at one of these about-to-open resorts, all which boast brand-spanking-new golf courses.

Ritz-Carlton, Dove Mountain
Located in the Sonoran Desert just 30 minutes from Tucson, this 250-room golf and spa resort is scheduled to open in late 2009. Besides offering 226 guest rooms and suites with expansive views of the desert terrain (including rugged rock formations), the resort will include 24 individual casitas (perfect for incentive winners and VIPs). Meeting space will include a 9,000-square-foot ballroom and a 4,800-square-foot ballroom.

The golf course: The Ritz-Carlton Golf Club will feature 36 holes of golf, all designed by Jack Nicklaus; 27 holes are already under construction and are scheduled to be completed by the end of the year; nine more holes will be added by 2010. The $60-million club will also feature an elaborate clubhouse complex (great for 19th hole events), complete with swimming pools, dining and a fitness center. Bring your cameras for this outing: Expect challenging play and spectacular desert vistas.

After tee time: The resort and setting are all about relaxation. Treat incentive winners to a special day at the resort’s 17,000-square-foot spa, or arrange for a group hike through the 20 miles of hiking trails that wind through the desert.

Hilton Orlando Bonnet Creek/Waldorf-Astoria Orlando
Hilton Hotels’ new two-in-one resort scheduled to open in September 2009 will include the 498-room Waldorf-Astoria Orlando and the 1,001-room Hilton Orlando Bonnet Creek. Surrounded by Walt Disney World Resort, the complex will offer a combined 150,000 square feet of meeting space. Our pick for an event: an outdoor “island,” surrounded on three sides by a lagoon, would be the ideal setting for a cocktail reception.

The golf course: The 18-hole Rees Jones Golf Course will open later this fall. Its builders say it’s so close to Disney’s Epcot Center that golfers can practically walk from the course to the theme park.

After tee time: This resort is in the center of everything Disney, so booking evening events at one of the theme parks is a hot option. The resort will also have an on-property heliport offering convenient service to Orlando attractions like Cirque du Soleil, Orlando Ballet and the Orlando Museum of Arts.

Westin Roco Ki Beach & Golf Resort
Set on 2,500 acres and located about 19 miles from the Punta Cana Airport in the Dominican Republic, this new 315-room resort (including 20 “jungle Luxe” bungalows, which are on stilts) scheduled to open in mid-2009 is bordered by a three-mile-long, white-powder beach and will include five fresh-water swimming pools. Meeting space ranges from a 7,000-square-foot ballroom to its Great Lawn (a spectacular setting for large outdoor gatherings) to its lagoon-side 2,000-square-foot Palapa, which overlooks the beach and dramatic cliffs.

The golf course: A Nick Faldo championship course’s layout takes duffers through rugged cliffs, palm trees and a mangrove forest. Bring out cameras for the 18th hole, which requires shots over the incoming surf.

After tee time: Water sports are paramount here. Book a group dive or deep-sea fishing trip, or work with the hotel’s meeting planner to organize a beach Olympics event.

Campeche Playa Golf Marina & Spa Resort
The first phase of this new resort complex on the Gulf of Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula includes a 500-room hotel and a Jack Nicklaus-designed golf course. This phase will open at the beginning of 2009; a second phase to include 3,000 private residences will be completed in 2010.

The golf course: The 18-hole course will be a must-see for eco-friendly golfers. Set adjacent to a mangrove forest, and offering views of nearby beaches, the course was designed to preserve the environment. As an example, the irrigation system uses water purified by a plant being built for the purpose, and chemicals will not be used to maintain the course.

After tee time: Deep-sea fishing promises to be a popular group activity here; the resort has its own marina and yacht club. Attendees who head to the seas can expect to catch grouper, tuna, shrimp and shellfish (and have plenty of stories for “the one that got away”) Don’t forget the disposable cameras so attendees have a record of their excursion.


If you’re looking for some tried-and-true golf courses, check out America’s top 10 as voted on by Golf Digest magazine.

PINE VALLEY (Pine Valley, NJ)
CYPRESS POINT (Pebble Beach, CA)
OAKMONT (Oakmont, PA)
PEBBLE BEACH (Pebble Beach, CA)
MERION (Ardmore, PA)
WINGED FOOT (Mamaroneck, NY)
SEMINOLE (Juno Beach, FL)

Plan a Golf Event in Six Easy Steps

Planning a golf tournament well creates good memories for attendees, and boosts business, too.

Here’s how to plan a golf event that will stand out from all the others your attendees might attend this season.

Step 1: Plan Four Months Out
Most golf courses are ready to help you with the planning task, as their golf shops likely have a few dozen group events come through each season, and so have a system for handling groups, from the golfing to the food and beverages to the gifts and awards. But you must contact the pro shop at your desired course at least 120 days out; not only do you have to ensure that the course is free on the day you want it, you and the staff will need that much time to create your itinerary, coordinate the details and help market the event.

The golf shop will usually assist any group that has 16 or more players, and can accommodate as many as 144 players on a course for a single event. But groups generally need to have at least 60 players – and sometimes 80 – to secure what’s called a “shotgun” start on a course, though the figure can be flexible depending on the season and the time of day. A dual start from the first and tenth tees is also possible for smaller groups, if the event begins early in the morning.

Step 2: Launch Marketing Effort
To drum up that many players, you might have to market aggressively. One tool that helps planners boost attendance at low cost is the Internet. “I’m seeing many organizations create individual Web pages for their golf events,” says Walt Galanty, founder of AIM Meetings & Events, a meeting planning firm. “A golf-events site can be used for registration and for keeping up interest of attendees by letting them find out who else is playing,” Galanty adds. “We can also post names of the winners and the prizes they won, post photos from last year’s event and allow attendees to order photos directly from the photographer. Not only that, but it can allow hotlinks to your event sponsors’ Web sites.”

Step 3: Choose Foursomes Wisely
Once your attendee list is set, there are several things to consider when grouping players into foursomes. The first, of course, is business interest. People come to business-golf events to meet others with reciprocal business interest, so allowing folks to choose on their registration forms who are in their group, or which type of buyer or supplier they’d like to be paired with, is wise.

The other consideration to make regards players’ handicaps. By having players list their handicap (a measure of how well they play on average) on their registration, the golf shop can determine who should play with whom so that the pace of play does not get too slow (four poor players in any one group is a bad thing). Also, handicaps help the golf shop determine which playing format would be best (scramble, modified scramble, low ball)

Once the format and the pairings are established, you must share other attendee information with the pro shop, such as whether anyone needs rental clubs or shoes, as well as each person’s golf-shirt size and hat size, which they’ll need to help you order merchandise with your firm’s logo on it.

Step 4: Drum Up Prizes
Four months’ lead time also helps when you need to secure prizes not only for the event’s winning foursome, but also for the winners of the longest drive, straight drive, and closest to the pin contests. Plaques and crystal can be customized with your firm’s logo, the year of the event, the name of the resort, and the category for which it was won, but these must be ordered at least six weeks in advance.

Logoed apparel, such as golf polos and imprinted sports bags also make terrific options.

Step 5: Consider Food & Fun
Next, you need to plan for providing food and beverages to your players. Most courses have refreshment carts roaming the course, though players sometimes won’t see one for several holes. In light of this, you should contract with the pro shop to have enough carts on the course so that players don’t go more than three holes without being offered food and drink. Also, let players know either that they must pay for what they consume or that the organization has a running tab. Be careful with the latter option, though, since any on-course accident or injury that occurs due to consumption of alcohol will leave you and your company liable.

Planners can boost entertainment value (and lower the cost) of their event by enlisting the help of sponsors, who “can be creative with their presence on a hole while also maintaining the integrity of the game,” Galanty says. For instance, having a skill contest on each sponsored hole will intrigue less-than-proficient golfers and interest decent golfers too. Possibilities include having players try to chip a ball into a bucket several feet away, or having a variation of “beat the pro” where a sponsoring firm’s sales rep tries to hit his tee shot closer to the pin on a par-three hole than each player. “A sponsor can put a rep out there who’s a decent golfer, unless they are purposely looking to give away a lot of free stuff with the company’s name on it,” Galanty notes.

Conversely, contests need not involve golf at all. Over the years, Galanty has seen sponsors use the Tic-Tac-Toss beanbag game and others to make sure everyone has a chance to go home with a prize.

Once play ends, there should be a post-tournament cocktail reception and dinner where you can thank sponsors and recognize contest winners. It’s best that these events are informal; the cocktail reception should start right after the last group comes in, and be close enough to the scoreboard that players can eat, drink, and mingle while the golf-shop staff posts the scores. Then, rather than having a formal sit-down dinner and awards ceremony, something like a buffet or a barbecue with carving stations would be a better idea, especially since folks won’t have much time to freshen up or even change out of their golf attire.

Step 6: Create a Contingency Plan
Remember that all of this planning will go out the window if the weather doesn’t cooperate on the day of the event. To combat this, you must have backup plans to keep people occupied. For instance, an indoor event space can be quickly and easily configured to become a putting course where you can offer a mini-tournament. Or the golf-shop staff can set up mats and nets in the space, and critique players’ swings and give personalized lessons as they watch folks hit balls into the nets. At the same time, have the golf-shop staff bring in a few televisions with VCRs, and show highlight videos of memorable pro tournaments. Finally, you could even bring in a few Sony Playstations, Microsoft Xboxes, or other home video-game machines; they run excellent golf games that folks can learn to play in minutes.

In the end, expect to pay anywhere from $150 to $275 per person for what resorts call the “tournament services” package, which includes greens fees and carts, player pairings, tournament scoring, complimentary range balls, access to locker rooms and assistance in the event’s coordination. Of course, the awards and prizes, refreshment carts, and other amenities will cost extra, though they are negotiable.

Pump Up This Promo

More Than a Band-Aid Solution
By Betsy Cummings

Hennepin County Medical Center recently launched a marketing campaign to shed its reputation as being only an urban trauma center. Our expert provides the prescription to extend its message even further.

Being ranked among the nation’s best hospitals for 12 years in a row is no small feat, as executives from Hennepin County Medical Center in Minneapolis surely can attest. It takes a lot of work, constant improvement and seamless medical care delivery to achieve those kinds
of accolades year in and year out. So it’s not surprising that the center’s team of executives was somewhat surprised and frustrated to learn through focus groups that the Minneapolis community didn’t necessarily have the same impression. Instead, the medical center was seen as mostly a trauma center, a downtown facility known more for its intake of accident victims – as was the case after the collapse of the I-35W Mississippi River Bridge last August – than it was for its nationally recognized birthing center and other medical facilities.

To change that, two years ago, the center began a plan to revamp that image. Executives hired Russell Herder, a Minneapolis brand strategy and advertising firm, to help them launch a community-wide rebranding effort. “The community perceived them as mostly a trauma/acute care center,” says Brent Doering, vice president of client services at Russell Herder, who works on the Hennepin account.

That nugget of information and others were mined in multiple focus groups Russell Herder conducted after a nearly two-year drought of marketing efforts by the medical center, Doering says.

Out of the focus groups came a primary goal of letting the Minneapolis community know that, despite its status as a county hospital with teaching facilities and an academic focus, Hennepin is a downtown medical center focused on serving a far-reaching, “multicultural audience,” Doering says.

The first step was to change the center’s logo. Doering’s team did that and created a new tagline as well: “Every Life Matters.” Then, to drive that message home, Russell Herder developed a series of community marketing strategies to create awareness of various services and programs the medical center has to offer.

One of those marketing efforts was a personal, grassroots type of effort where teams of individuals blanketed local community events and passed out packets of tomato seeds printed with the medical center’s logo and tagline on the front as well as a URL on the back that people could go to for more information about Hennepin’s offerings.

This year at several events – a May Day event, farmer’s markets, a Juneteenth celebration – where some 12,000 seed packets were distributed, staff hired to hand out the seeds and target a diverse audience would try to get in a few words about the medical center’s better features, service offerings and the general idea that Hennepin is far more than a hospital with a high-end trauma center and fully functioning ER. In some places, for example, they would hand out brochures about Hennepin’s birthing center along with the seed packets. The idea was to extend an offering from one community neighbor to another. “What people don’t realize is that Hennepin is kind of a hidden jewel in downtown Minneapolis,” Doering says. The idea being, “if they’re that good in a time of crisis, guess what they could do in a ‘normal’ situation?” he adds.

Word of mouth, he says, is the best promotion there is.

Betsy Cummings is senior writer for Successful Promotions.

Fun Video Game Launch

Wall•E Sees Trinkets as Treasure

For many video game marketing programs, choosing the right promotional product takes a little creativity. Marketing the latest action game or kids’ title may not offer some obvious choices. This wasn’t the case for video developer THQ Inc. when it came time to promote its Wall•E video game which hit shelves June 27.

The game is based on the futuristic robot character’s adventures in the Disney/Pixar movie of the same name. In the film, which debuted June 24, Wall•E went on a fantastic journey across the universe. Along the way, he often turned trash into treasure.

THQ leveraged some of the items that were prominent within the movie to reach out to members of the press. For example, Wall•E is fond of a paddleball so THQ sent 500 plastic logoed paddleballs to consumer, trade and enthusiast press.

“We ordered the paddleball after seeing Wall•E interact with a similar one in the film trailer,” says Karen Fujimoto, spokesperson for THQ. “It was too good to resist. The paddleballs were effective because they captured an element of fun, while serving as a leave-behind reminder that the game would be coming out soon.”

THQ also borrowed the idea of using an Igloo cooler from the film. Wall•E carries around a cooler throughout the film and places trinkets in it. The video game company held an event at the New York Hall of Science for dozens of members of the press and their families. As a thank you for attending, it gave away logoed coolers, hats, shirts and posters.

The gaming company is no stranger to such tactics. For Ratatouille it held a cooking event at the Institute of Culinary Education in New York and gave away logoed chef’s hats, aprons and bottles of thyme, a key spice for making the dish Ratatouille. “It’s a fun way to build some buzz with our press,” says Fujimoto.

Cool Consumer Promo

Tecate Gets a Kick Out of Authentic Soccer Promos

With category leader Corona experiencing soft sales, Tecate is looking to take the opportunity to establish itself as the authentic Mexican beer. One of its strategies to show consumers its heritage was by holding its “Futbol Tecate” events throughout the month of July.

The beer brand brought the Mexican First Division Club Soccer teams to four of its key markets to play exhibition games against local teams. The first match pitted the Colorado Rapids against the Tigres on July 9 at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park in Commerce City, CO.

Tecate understands how important futbol is within Mexican culture. It saw the exhibitions as a way to solidify its credibility with Hispanic consumers and prove its authenticity to other demographics.

At soccer games, Tecate gives out a flurry of premiums to the fans in attendance. “We always try [to ensure] that the items we use are a reflection of the brand’s character and of the specific event/promotion we’re participating in,” says Tecate brand director Carlos Boughton.

During soccer games, Tecate offers soccer keychains, soccer balls and even genuine soccer jerseys signed by the Mexican stars. “We want to make sure that consumers see or take items that are reflective of Tecate’s bold personality as well as our involvement in soccer,” says Boughton.

Tecate also regularly partners with boxing matches where it gives consumers related promotional products like branded towels, framed shorts and gloves autographed by superstars like Oscar de la Hoya.

Heineken USA, which is the exclusive importer of Tecate, signed a new 10-year deal with parent company Femsa which became effective this year.

Candy Still Sweet With Consumers

Many analysts have called the gum and candy category recession proof. Consumers who are watching their budgets will often allow themselves “mini-splurges” on impulse items like a Snickers bar or the new Starburst Gummi Bursts candy.

That’s why it’s important as ever for candy makers to continue to market themselves to this eager crowd looking for a treat. Companies like Mars, Inc. and the Hershey Co. spent about $900 million on traditional media between April 2007 and April 2008, per Nielsen Monitor-Plus. (Plus another $1 million advertising online, per TNS Media Intelligence.)

The important aspect of any ad campaign for candy brands is differentiation, says Pat Conroy, consumer products practice leader at Deloitte, New York. “Consumers have access to more and more information, so then it becomes, ‘do I pay an extra 50 cents for a brand-name candy or buy a lesser one?’”

In one of the most high-profile candy campaigns this year, the Wm. Wrigley Co. tried to combine nostalgia and star power. It tapped pop superstar Chris Brown to re-record its famous jingle. The song “Forever” would go on to become a top-10 hit during the summer by borrowing the familiar refrain “Double your pleasure/double your fun.” In August, the song was repackaged for a massive ad campaign. Wrigley also had recording artist Ne-Yo redo Big Red’s “Kiss a little longer” jingle, and country singer Julianne Hough recorded, “The taste is going to move ya” for Juicy Fruit.

Tasty T-Shirts and Logoed Candy
For a smaller brand like the Jelly Belly Candy Company, it is less about signing high-profile stars and more about making its logo the star. The jelly bean company offers a host of logoed items available for sale in its company store.

“When consumers wear the branded clothing they take the name and populate the brand throughout the world,” says John Jamison, director of retail for the Jelly Belly. “It’s a happy brand and the logoed products keep the name on the tip of the tongue.”

M&Ms hasn’t been afraid to license its products. So much so, it has an entire store in Times Square full of dolls, banks and many other products based on the characters in its ads. The candy brand, which is owned by Mars, has even taken the idea of branding a step further by allowing consumers to place their own words, favorite sports team’s logo or even their own face directly on custom-made candy M&Ms.

“It’s not just about selling chocolate. It’s about building relationships,” says Ryan Bowling, a rep for Mars.

High-Tech Marketing Promo

USB Ports Prove to be the Right Choice

Human resources professionals are busy people. Besides hiring and firing of employees, quarterbacking 401(k) programs and spearheading training initiatives for the company, they are also responsible for health-care decisions. To separate themselves from the many other health-care providers out there, Right Choice Health looked to promotional products.

In May and June, it gave out 1,500 branded USB ports to HR executives, personnel departments and company controllers. “They were very pleased with what they were able to get out of the program,” says Phil Masiello, vice president of sales at HyGrade Business, Clifton, N.J., which created the effort. “They were looking for a marketing tool that could carry the brand name, that salespeople could give out to clients that wouldn’t just end up in the desk.”

The USB ports contained materials that were helpful to the sales staff’s presentation and also functioned as a powerful leave behind chocked full of information about Right Choice Health’s offerings.

What’s more, it contained a widget. This branded piece of software, which functions when the logoed USB is plugged in, offers the user the chance to get up-to-the-minute information about traffic, weather and other news through the Web. “It’s useful,” says Masiello, so the client is more likely to use it again and again.

“This way they always have the brand in front of them,” he says. “It’s a very inexpensive tweak to a standard USB that provides a bunch of other marketing tools for the client. In the grand scheme of things, it’s an inexpensive upgrade that adds in impressions. In promotion, you are always looking for something that will have retention power. This particular USB will take precedent over any other item you could possibly give them.”