The Promo Column

Enduring appeal O

f course, to a certain extent it’s business as usual in the world of merchandise. Wheels still turn and businesses, brands and campaigns still need to get their message out there.

And in the media-fragmented age you still can’t beat the power of getting a promotional message directly into somebody’s hand.

Old favourites

As predicted last month, old favourites still have legs. Look at pin badges. People do, you know, as the long-running London Underground Baby on Board badge for pregnant women proves. The lapel badge has saved many a frazzled mum-to-be from having to stand on a bus or Tube journey, as well as saving fellow passengers from embarrassment in that ‘is she, or isn’t she?’ situation.

How are the Roaring 2020s going for you? It’s quite an odd feeling to be into a new decade, especially when some of us are still working on our 2010s’ to do list. Slow down world! Promotional products commentator, Stuart Derrick, spills the beans on what products are new this month.

In a way, it’s touching to know that in these days of bitcoin and cybercrime, the old craft skills are still out there, as is the enduring appeal of certain products. Who, for example, doesn’t still get excited at a free pen, especially if it’s a super nice one, such as Prodir’s

eye-catching new QS40 Air, which recently won the

Promotional Gift Award 2020 for giveaways. Designer Christoph Schnug has created a holey

Prodir’s eye-catching new QS40 Air

pen by removing a large portion of the pen surface and perforating the barrel, so that it requires up to 60% less plastic than other models. In addition, 30% of the plastic used comes from Prodir’s own recycled waste. The result is a very cool looking, and more sustainable writing instrument. Another company that is pushing a range of better for the environment products is Nexus Collections, which has seen significant growth in sales of sustainable bespoke conference products.

Nexus is growing its range of products to include biodegradable bags that compost down after an event, as well as more stylish and practical bags, likely to be used by delegates after the event. It is also looking at products focused on the elimination of disposable plastics, such as water bottles and coffee cups.

Nottingham City Council’s offer the seat badge

Now one local authority has taken the idea a step further. Bus and tram users in Nottingham can get ‘Happy to move for you’ badges to let disabled people know they can request their seat. The council is also issuing ‘Please offer me a seat’ badges to disabled people. The idea is that the badges will be particularly useful for those people who don’t have a visible disability, but may require a seat. The simple idea may have other applications, although not all have been greeted with wholehearted enthusiasm. Japanese department store, Daimaru recently introduced a badge that staff could wear if they were on their period. The badges featured a cartoon character known as Miss Period – not one of Roger Hargreaves’ better known creations – with the aim of allowing staff to get extra help, or take longer breaks, if it was their time of the month.

Following a mixed reaction from staff and customers, the company is having a rethink on the policy, but has not dispensed with it altogether. Back to the drawing board maybe. Another story that caught my eye recently concerned promotional tokens, specifically the stickers that you collect from your favourite cafe towards a free coffee. If, like me, you’ve never managed to complete one – usually losing it before it’s full – you might be surprised to hear that they are valuable currency. That’s the only conclusion I can take from the story of a driver in Bradford who was stopped by police and found to have hundreds of fake McDonald’s coffee bean tokens in his possession. Collect six of these and you save the not-particularly-huge sum of £1.39 that you’d normally be charged. Every little helps, I know, but you have to question how long it would have taken this would-be gangster to get to the top of the criminal tree.

| 64 | February 2020 Product desirability

Suppliers have woken up to the need for product desirability in recent years. What’s the point of spending your budget on items that are dumped at the first opportunity, when for a little more, you can invest in head- turners, such as the collapsible bottle, supplied by Fluid Branding. There are definitely cheaper water bottles on the market, but this one can be neatly concertina- ed to half its size when not in use, and can be Pantone matched to brand colours as

Fluid Branding’s collapsible bottle

standard. It is made from BPA and plastic free silicone.

Of course, no February column would be complete without a mention of love. And what better way to send your fondest regards to

your beloved this Valentine’s than with a massive sugar rush? It works for me every time.

Promotional confectionery specialists, The Sweet People, have a range of Valentine’s related sweet treats that can be branded, from heart shaped chocolates and jellies, to lollipops and Love Hearts. There’s something for everyone. Happy Valentine’s Day.

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