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Best Practices
Edited By Andy Cohen

Secret of My Success:
Distributor Injects Energy Into Anniversary Tee

Ten years ago, childhood friends Danny Rosin and Robert Fiveash launched Brand Fuel Promotions (asi/145025) and rocketed off to a decade of growth. Last January, the partners kicked off their milestone year with a letter to clients reflecting on their journey. The celebration continued in May at their annual client-appreciation event, Rocket Day. And, throughout 2008, Brand Fuel presented clients with a commemorative T-shirt imprinted with their logo on front and “Raised on Pop Rocks and Evel Knievel” on back.

Marketing Coordinator Meredith Linden explains the tagline: “Danny and Robert thought it would be a good idea to pay tribute to their childhood days together, when they spent their free time mimicking the stunts of Evel Knievel and debunking rumors that Pop Rocks and carbonated soda caused stomachs to explode. Pop Rocks gained pop-culture status, and Evel became the King of Stuntmen and, in our opinion, the Patriot of Promotions. The combination of Pop Rocks and Evel Knievel seem to fit together pretty well for those reasons.”

Determined not to skimp on the special-edition tee, Brand Fuel chose SanMar’s (asi/84863) District Threads line for it. The shirt features super-soft heathered fabric and subtle, muted gray imprinting. “By spending a little more money on a nicer shirt,” Rosin says, “our hope was that it would wind up in our client’s favorite shirt rotation versus being just another white shirt in the drawer.”

The thought that went into the shirt paid off – in both exposure and orders. “Our 10-year anniversary tee has turned into one of our most successful marketing giveaways to date,” Rosin says. “By investing in a higher quality T-shirt, clients were not only more appreciative but, in strong ROI fashion, they also purchased the same brand we used for their company.” – JZ

End-User Case Study
Real-World Items Launch Virtual Product

Banks aren’t the epitome of cool. Today, young adult consumers spend the majority of their time avoiding such dull places in favor of the solace of their iPhone, iPod or the Internet.

Understanding that Generation Y actually spends most of its time living in the digital world, PNC Bank decided to go where the action is. It recently created a “Virtual Wallet” that allows consumers to manage their checking and savings accounts and see when it’s time to pay their bills, all in a fun way. “Virtual Wallet is intended to empower tech-savvy consumers with an unprecedented high-def view – and control – of their money,” says Jerod Laughlin, manager of interactive strategy for PNC. “The development of Virtual Wallet was based on the money mindset and financial lifestyle of Gen Y, making it easy and visual to help them plan and save.”

To get the message out about this online application, PNC hit consumers hard off-line. It used TV and radio ads as well as street teams to hand out information to the target audience along with branded keychain/cardholders. The banks also gave away T-shirts, polo shirts, hats, mousepads, pens and piggy keychains to promote the launch of the new product.

The early results looked promising. Within the first two months, about 430,000 people visited Of those visitors, 80% of whom fell into the desired Gen Y target, 14,000 opened up Virtual Wallet accounts.

Promo Products In Use
Logoed Bag Helps Kick-Start A Brand

Hoping to add a little spring to its step, The Athlete’s Foot began a rebranding effort earlier this year. The venerable athletic shoe and sportswear retailer has opted to move away from its name and toward the acronym, “TAF.”

To help consumers become familiar with its altered name and new logo, the company offered a free drawstring backpack as a gift-with-purchase during the back-to-school shopping season. Consumers who spent more than $75 received one of 11,000 free backpacks.  

“If the branded item makes sense to the overall strategy, then it can help build a brand,” says Darius Billings, director of retail brand marketing and merchandising for NexCen Franchise Management, parent company to The Athlete’s Foot. “For TAF we have committed to a strategy of serving the everyday athletes of the world – the student athletes, the before-breakfast athletes, the after-work athletes and the weekend athletes. To do this we need the TAF brand to speak their language and live in their world. A TAF coffee mug isn’t necessarily going to do this, but the drawstring bag can, because it is an important element of the everyday athlete.”

It was a perfect fit for the retailer because it fits with TAF customers’ athletic routines, says Billings. “For the student athlete, it’s their second bag, the first being their book bag,” he says. “The drawstring bag is something that travels with them to practice, to competitions and to games. For after-work athletes, it replaces the briefcases at 5 p.m. And so the brand, which aims to serve the everyday athlete, is also a part of the everyday athlete’s life.”

The bag is helping the brand raise awareness in a seamless way. A simple gift-with-purchase “may not seem like much, but next time you’re near a weekend soccer tournament, a 10K run, or a pickup basketball game, look around.” Billings says. “The drawstring bag is everywhere. It only makes sense that TAF should be a part of that space.” – KH

International Case Study
Kids’ Meal Promo on Track to be a Winner

A restaurant chain that goes by the name of “Biggest” will naturally be in the market for large promotional ideas – even for kids’ meal toys. For help, the El Salvador-based hamburger chain of that name turned to kids’ promotion specialist C3 International (C3i). “The client had been using your average toys,” says Angel Morales, managing director at C3i, “but with increased competition, they wanted to raise the bar with larger toys.”

Knowing that the client was a racing fan, Morales and his team designed a set of four modular toy racing kits. Each includes a racer presented with four sections of track that fit together to make up a small oval. As kids collect additional kits, the track pieces can be combined to create a larger, road-course type circuit.

But C3i took the concept a step further. “After doing focus groups with Formula-One-like cars, parents were not too keen on the idea of having only cars,” Morales says. “Wild animals drew a better score overall.”

So, the concept for the promotion evolved into racing animals with an educational twist. “We decided to include an educational card in Spanish to promote knowledge of these specific animals: elephant, rhino, crocodile and hippo,” Morales says.

The promotion began in El Salvador in October, and early results look good for the restaurant chain. “Right now, it is doing well in the first week of sales – increases of over 50%,” Morales says. – JZ

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