Promotional Swag – What NOT to Do

What a difference the right direction can make.

In the late 90’s, the Bureau for At-Risk Youth, released an anti-drug propaganda pencil with the slogan “Too Cool To Do Drugs”. Unfortunately, with use and the requisite sharpening, it soon said “Cool to Do Drugs”, ‘Do Drugs” and then simply “Drugs”. After the blunder was spotted by a student, the pencils were recalled and reprinted in reverse so the sharpened end finished up declaring “Too Cool.”

There is no question that promotional products and branded merchandise offer a cost effective, proven and memorable way to promote your brand, but some initial risk management is always advised. So, before you get sign off on your next order of promotional merchandise, don’t forget to ask:

Is it SAFE? When it comes to promotional giveaways, this should always be your first concern. Product recalls and safety issues are costly, both financially and in terms of brand reputation. And, unlike the pencil blunder above, not always as obvious as they might seem. Earlier this year the ACCC recalled a batch of Cricket Australia’s promotional LED wristbands reporting: ‘The battery compartment of the wristband is not adequately secured and the button batteries in the product are easily accessible.’ As well as being a potential choke hazard, button batteries come with the associated risks of serious illness, internal burn injuries and even death. The key here is working with a trusted supplier, who has a keen eye for detail, is across all the latest legislations and offers total supply-chain transparency.

Is it RELEVANT? The focus of any marketing venture should always be your audience. Deciding on promotional swag that is useful, relevant or would be appreciated by them is key. Just slapping your logo on and hoping for the best, is not going to cut it in the competitive world of customer loyalty. The product should be relevant to both your target market (desk supplies for office workers) and your business (water bottles/fitness industry).

Is it COMPLIANT? Safety and compliance have many similar touch points, and in both cases working with a trusted branded merchandise supplier is the way to go. However, in addition to safety/legal requirements, the broader idea of corporate social responsibility (CSR) should also be considered. This means giving thought to the social and environmental implications of the offering, especially as 88% of consumers will be more loyal to companies that exhibit eco-friendly practices. Plastic bags, paper cups and other single-use products should be avoided as much as possible.

Is it PRACTICAL? This question is particularly relevant to trade shows, sporting events and any other occasion where your recipient might be travelling to/from the venue or spending a good deal of time on their feet. Giving someone a branded suitcase at an event they’ve already flown to (with their own luggage) and that they have to pay additional baggage allowance on, is a real-life product fail example that we’ve seen. Put yourself in your recipient’s shoes – will this product be heavy, awkward or disallowed (e.g. liquids when travelling)? If in doubt, leave it out!

With a little foresight and by working with an experienced promotional merchandise supplier, such as Inck, your brand can avoid ending up with egg on its face. Or worse still, with drugs on its pencil!

Ready to rock your next branded merchandise campaign? Then give the team at Inck a call & let us take care of it.


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