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The Promo Column Merchandise works

Who doesn’t love a promotion? The chance to get something for nothing has been a key part of the marketer’s armoury since Adam took advantage of the ‘Free knowledge with every apple’ promotion in the Garden of Eden. Promotional merchandise commentator Stuart Derrick reports.


appeals to us, there are those for whom promotions and competitions are a hobby. They are called compers in the industry, and are the scourge of the modern promoter as they enter every competition going and often sweep up a disproportionate amount of the prizes. However, theyʼve had their noses put out of joint recently and have been complaining that all is not fair in the world of prize draw promotions. The problem, as they see it, lies in the disparity between the prize funds trumpeted by brands – often in the millions – and the actual amount of prizes that are given out, which can be as low as 5%, or even less. In these kinds of promotions, you typically enter a code on the pack to be entered in the draw. Of course, most consumers donʼt bother, and unlike in a raffle at the village fete, the fact that fewer tickets are involved, does not increase the likelihood of winning. Fewer entrants equals fewer prizes. There has always been an element of over-egging the pudding with promotions. Marketers love to slap a massive number on their packs to get consumers all excited. However, if that excitement doesnʼt translate into many winners, then thatʼs a problem. People lose interest in promotions generally and think itʼs a bit of a con.

Cynical times We live in cynical times, and brands have to be careful how much they pee off their customers. One way of getting around this is by having lots of low value prizes. McDonaldʼs is an expert at this with its popular Monopoly promotion. Yes, you can win £25,000 but youʼre more likely to get a free drink or packs of fruit. And guess

hile most of us periodically have our interest tweaked by a promotion that

what, that makes people feel better about the brand than winning nothing. Another way of creating more winners is by using merchandise. Free with every purchase promotions reward everyone, or you can have simple collector mechanic. Bisto Frozen Meals is currently offering a free pan holder if you buy four meals and send in the codes. It also raises money for Help for Heroes. Tropicana is doing something similar with cute emoji glasses that can be collected by consumers. Itʼs simple stuff, but then so are most consumers – and I count myself here. We look at something, think ʻThatʼs coolʼ and before you know it, the product is in your basket. Thatʼs what a cool merchandise campaign can do.

The Trackr pen from Cross Pens

Seek out opportunities Where thereʼs a challenge, thereʼs an opportunity. Remember a couple of years back when the plastic bag tax came in? At first people were up in arms, but now we are using six billion fewer disposable bags a year, and charities have benefited hugely. It also opened an opportunity for companies that supplied reusable shopping bags and posh paper bags. Now, there is a possibility that a similar tax on coffee cups could cut their use by 300 million a year. We currently get through 2.5 billion a year, but academics tested several tactics to cut use, including reusable cups and a discount on using your own cup. With suppliers, such as Listawood, producing reusable coffee mugs, which can be branded, thereʼs a chance for businesses to show their green side and provide customers and staff with a useful piece of merchandise. Speaking of useful, Cross Pens has developed an amazing new product that promises to end the misery of lost writing instruments. The company has come up with some seriously hi-tech gadgetry to produce the Trackr pen which, as the name suggests, can be tracked down by a Bluetooth app on your phone. Not only that, but the technology can also be used to track down lost phones as well. I donʼt know what happens if you lose both at once, but it all sounds dead clever. The pens also look very stylish, coming in carbon black or quartz blue, so you wonʼt want to let them out of your sight.

The egg-shaped lip balm pot from Big Brand Sourcing

Desirable products

Speaking of little packages of desirability, I spotted a cute little item recently in the shape of a moisturising egg-shaped lip balm pot from Big Brand Sourcing. Ideal for next Easter or other egg-related events, the product is supplied in a matt soft-touch finish egg shape pot. It is available in a range of pastel colours and flavours, including red (summer fruits), pink (strawberry sorbet), blue (blueberry), orange (medicated orange), green (honeysuckle honeydew), or yellow (lemon). You can even have your own custom colour and flavour from 500 pieces.

Metal beermats

From the cute to the thought provoking. A hard-hitting campaign was recently run in a bar in Canada, featuring beermats. The twist was that they were made from metal taken from cars involved in crashes. The message was very simple ʻThis coaster used to be a car. That car never made it homeʼ. Which just goes to show that a great idea doesnʼt have to be communicated through a massive advertising campaign. Merchandise works.

May 2017 | 79 |

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