Current Events News

Gmail Nested Labels: Modern Era Desk Organizers?

Given the technologically savvy world in which we live, it’s no surprise that Google is continuing to revolutionize E-mail and thus the way in which Internet users communicate. Google first transformed Web mail with a thread system that combines conversations into one tab for easy viewing and organizational purposes. Now, Gmail is announcing Nested Labels, which allow users to create hierarchies within their inbox folders (folders are referred to as “Labels” in Google speak). This new feature is ideal for Internet users who like to keep everything in its proper place; nested labels are like desk organizers for your inbox.

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iPad Hits Stores – and the Promotional Products Market

Yep that’s Apple’s new iPad, featured in its first television commercial that debuted during the Academy Awards on March 7th. Finally released on April 3, more than 300,000 iPads were sold on that first day alone, with more than 1 million apps and 250,000 e-books downloaded by users as well. One of my coworkers in the Web Development Department here at Pinnacle exclaimed last week how he was excited to be getting his tax refund as he was taking it straight to the Apple store to pick up his very own. I think I responded by saying very politely that I thought the iPad was “neat” but that I wasn’t quite sure the purpose it would serve for me (or the excuse I could use to spend the money to purchase one) as I already own an iPhone and MacBook. His response was some version of, “Me neither. I just want it.”

That answer my friends, is what brings us to one of the causes for what will inevitably be the success of the iPad, and anything else Apple conjures up for that matter – brand loyalty – to the point where Apple consumers can even define themselves by a connection to the brand (case in point – Apple’s “I’m a Mac” campaign). After all, it’s not every company that has consumers sleeping outside their stores just to be one of the first to buy their new product (recall the craze for Apple’s iPhone release back in summer 07). While I haven’t heard of anyone pulling out their sleeping bags yet, it seems to be just about on par with sales of its other devices and the Apple brand and its loyal consumers seem to be just as strong as ever.

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All The President’s Pens

While health care legislation has been all over the news for months, this innovative video is the first to focus on the use of the president’s pens rather than the bill and its contents. The behind the scenes glimpse allows viewers to see the bill signing process from a unique prospective; dig a little deeper and the video also provides valuable insight into the promotional products market.
Read more market insight from All the President’s Pens…

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MoMA Acquires @ – Promotional Products Beware?

If you haven’t already heard, the MoMA (that’s the Museum of Modern Art in NYC – or New York City – for those not keen to acronyms) acquired the “@” symbol a few weeks ago. That’s right, that lowercase a with a circle around it will now be in a collection among Van Gogh’s The Starry Night, Pollock’s Number 31, Picasso’s The Young Ladies of Avignon, Matisse’s The Red Studio, Cezanne’s Still Life With Apples, and other noted masterpieces of modern art.

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Toyota, Tylenol, and How One “Bachelor” Contestant Could Use Promotional Products in Her Everyday Life

vvvracerOn Monday night’s episode of “The Bachelor: The Women Tell All,”* Southern Belle and single mother Ella commented on the behavior of fellow bachelorette (and also the instigator of much of this season’s drama), Vienna, by saying:

“She would do and say things she would not think about before she did them. She may be sorry for them later, but then if you continue that after ‘I’m sorrys,’ it’s not going to fly.”

At the time, I paused and pondered Ella’s statement. Although perhaps not the most eloquently put version of a value that I have been taught from a young age, her honesty and simple interpretation of why Vienna lost her credibility were refreshing. “I’m sorry” can be a powerful phrase, but overusing it may cause the listener to become skeptical of the apologetic individual or party’s sincerity.

A recent BrandWeek article about Millward Brown’s list of “most trusted and recommended brands” brought to light a shining example of the impact of apologies in the corporate world. The list is based on the survey responses of over 20,000 U.S. consumers at the end of 2009. Tylenol, ranked 6th on the list, happens to have had numerous recalls over the years, including one in 2009, the year in which the data for this study was collected. Eileen Campbell, global CEO of Millward Brown, explained the company’s high ranking by saying, “Doing well in a crisis actually builds trust.”

Toyota, number 7 on the list, only began facing scrutiny in early 2010 regarding the safety of their vehicles, so I am curious to see how the established car manufacturer’s trust rating will fare among consumers in the future. Personally, I think Toyota’s crisis recovery efforts have been outstanding, and by admitting their lapses in quality assurance and promising to improve, they have already begun to regain the respect of many consumers. Think about how you react after you make a mistake: I know that I am overly cautious because of fear of repeating the same error. I guess only time will tell if Toyota will exhibit the same staying power as Tylenol.

As for Vienna, I think her actions have alienated the vast majority of Bachelor viewers, but hey, she still has a chance to get the guy! Maybe he will be more receptive to her apologies than Ella and the rest of her former housemates; if all else fails, she could try imprinting the words “I’m sorry” on promotional products as tokens of her on-going remorse instead of just saying them time and again. :)

* As many of my coworkers know, I tune into a variety of reality shows, from “Say Yes to the Dress,” to “The Real Housewives of ____” (you could fill in practically any city name/season and chances are I have seen the majority of the episodes), to, I’m almost ashamed to admit, “The Bachelor.” Although not the most mentally stimulating, hopefully this blog has proven reality tv’s capacity to teach valuable life lessons to unassuming viewers like myself.

Dana
Team Lead – Social Media

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P90X Promotional Products: Take the Revolution One Step Farther

A few months ago my husband and I were watching television when an infomercial caught our attention, for a workout program that claimed to get you “absolutely ripped in 90 days.” We watched this informercial the whole way through, and learned about muscle confusion™, the 12 sweat-inducing workouts, the strict nutrition plan and, best of all, the results in the form of before & after pictures.  These people went from normal to ripped in just 90 days!  It was almost too good to be true… and with just 3 payments of $39.95 and a 90-day money back guarantee, who could go wrong?

I know that most men (my husband included) dream about having a six-pack and killer biceps, so this infomercial strikes a chord with them.  After viewing enough before & afters, it was settled that he was buying this program and “getting ripped.” From September to the end of November he followed Tony Horton’s program by the book. (Well, he skipped Yoga X days, but I don’t blame him. I tried to do it with him and it was too long and boring.) I didn’t commit to the program, but I did do the occasional Kenpo, Plyometrics and Ab Ripper X (my favorite) to support him.

After those grueling 90 days, he was in the best shape of his life and became a true P90X supporter and evangelist. Five of his friends have since bought the program and are aiming to get ripped as well.

What surprised me the most about the whole thing was the conversations that I had with people about P90X. People love to talk about Tony and his cheesy one-liners, their favorite workout, or their most dreaded exercise (Heels to the Heavens). Most people have seen the informercial, have friends that did the program, or want to do it themselves.

P90X is part of pop culture now and has become a fitness revolution. Yes, this is a bold statement. With this type of revolution, I believe that Tony and the guys at Beach Body are missing out on a huge opportunity to incorporate promotional products or logo merchandise into their revenue stream. I checked their website for P90X merchandise I could buy my husband (as a joke… kind of) and the only thing I found was one t-shirt that had “P90X” on the front and “Bring It” on the back yoke (see image above). I did appreciate the product description: “You’ll get ripped, but your T-shirt won’t!”, but I think they can take their brand one step further.  From promotional t-shirts, custom hats, and bumper stickers to sport towels, yoga mats and imprinted water bottles, the possibilities of marketing his program with promotional products are endless.  If and when they decide to take my advice, I’ll be all over the T-shirt imprinted with Tony’s most famous motivational saying, “Do Your Best… Forget the Rest!”

 

Here is an amazing video to inspire you to get “X”!

Heather
Marketing Manager

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Whether Shopping for Furniture or Promotional Products, IdeaKits™ make Life Easier

Horia-VarlanLike my co-worker Kim, who successfully became a homeowner last Friday, I recently moved and am in the midst of furnishing my new house. The process has been a roller-coaster of emotions, ranging from the excitement over decorating a house for the first time to the overwhelming panic about the vast range of paint colors and furniture options. Will that rug match the duvet cover in my room? Are Linen White and Eggshell truly different paint colors?

To answer all of my first-time decorator questions, I turned to the best source I had available: the Internet. Like many consumers, I find shopping online an easy way to compare price points, colors, and product styles. What I didn’t know was that many home furnishing sites also offer “idea and inspiration” sections, filled with pages upon pages of ideas for how to complete a room. Some of these sites even allow users to select their style – whether it be classic, contemporary, fashionable or even technology oriented – and receive suggestions about furniture and accessories that match their decorating needs.

Similar to Pinnacle’s IdeaKit™ that suggests new and unique promotional products to fit customers’ marketing plans, these online showrooms inspire users to utilize and combine products in ways they might not have thought of otherwise. Whether or not customers are new to the world of furnishing, these suggestions provide innovative insight while also saving users time and money by allowing them to evaluate options before leaving the house.

After hours of playing around on these sites, mixing and matching colors and fashions to create my ideal room, I was so excited about my new furniture that I simply could not wait any longer to order it. Unfortunately many home furnishing companies do not offer rush delivery at no extra cost, so after my usual Saturday dodge ball game (yes, you read that right… there are dodge ball leagues for adults!) I went to the store to make my purchases. Picking out my items ahead of time made the shopping experience relatively painless and afterwards I came home, relaxed and put my feet up on my nice new ottoman!

 

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Lending a Helping Hand on National Humanitarian Day

Today is National Humanitarian Day. It couldn’t come at a more appropriate time.

You don’t have to look far to see the outpouring of support for the victims of the tragic earthquake that devastated the small island country of Haiti earlier this week.

While I’m no expert on world affairs, and I could never claim to be the most active in volunteerism, my heart is definitely going out to the people of Haiti this week.

The power and human compassion shown by strangers in countries around the globe, never ceases to amaze me in times of trouble. From the tsunami in Indonesia in 2004, to the devastation of Hurricane Katrina in 2005, the humanitarian efforts surrounding these disasters are always staggering. Governments, cities, charities and individuals – all coming together to lend a helping hand.

Whether it is water, food, blood or the spare change found in the glove box, every donation makes a difference. It isn’t hard to find shirts, mugs, caps: hundreds of printed promotional products available to purchase with proceeds going to the various charities and humanitarian efforts working to piece Haiti back together.

Just three days after the 7.3 magnitude earthquake ripped through Haiti, people are making a difference. Whether by selling bags and tees to raise much needed funds or digging through the rubble in search of survivors, doing what you can – when you can – is what humanitarianism is all about.

I’m not asking you to donate. But take a moment to reflect on the humanitarian efforts taking place today. If you are interested in learning more about ways to give back, Acree posted a great blog this week with some great links and resources.

Thanks for reading and thanks for all you do. You are making a difference!

 

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Eat. Sleep. Farmville. The Facebook Phenomenon Breaks Into the Promotional Products Arena.

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We all know that the social utility website Facebook has grown to become a worldwide online phenomenon, having just reached over 100 million active users in the US, meaning that nearly 1/3 of the American population are now logging on each month. Beyond this social media platform itself, it has helped to spawn the development of many other social phenomena – including the biggest social gaming stage ever, FarmVille.

For those who are not one of its 72 million something active users, and those who have not been reading friends status updates such as, “Judy just milked their goat and got some sweet, tasty goat’s milk in FarmVille!” here’s a little 411 on the game: FarmVille, launched in June 2009, is a game developed by Zynga, which, founded in July 2007 out of San Francisco, California, is now the largest developer of social games on the web. The FarmVille application essentially allows its users to grow and tend to a virtual farm by planting, growing and harvesting virtual crops, trees, and livestock. The game is based around its market where items ranging from seeds, trees, and animals to buildings, cars and more land can be purchased for one’s own farm, or gifted to a neighbor’s farm. These purchases are made with “coins” that a user generally earns by selling crops, however, players can spend real money on virtual goods to help them advance to higher levels within the game, thereby benefiting Zynga, whose annual revenue is likely to surpass $100 million this year.

As if FarmVille has not already practically taken over the virtual world, it is now extending its reach into the real-world through the use of promotional products. Players can now share their addiction beyond the Internet with FarmVille promotional products such as “I’d rather be farming,” magnets or the “Eat. Sleep. Farmville,” trucker hat, which are all available online at www.cafepress.com.

 

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Elect to Use Promotional Products on Election Day

LaMenta3-image_2097Today is Election Day. And if you’re sitting there reading and thinking, “Oh no, I hope she doesn’t go into a rant about the responsibility of voting,” you don’t have to worry. This isn’t a blog to lecture about the importance of exercising your right, but rather to look back on famous political campaigns and the use of promotional products.

It’s impossible to talk about Election Day without discussing how just a year ago, Barack Obama made history as the world watched with captive eyes. And let’s not forget the “hanging chad” incident of 2000, were many Floridian’s votes were not counted because the hole did not detach completely from the ballot. While these stories recount historic Election Day media frenzy, they do not take into account the months of campaigning and the strategy behind it.

The first documented political campaign in the United States occurred in 1789, when George Washington ran for reelection. Washington used commemorative buttons to gain momentum for his campaign, effectively creating the first promotional products. And, from lapel pins to bumper stickers, promotional products have been an important part of politics ever since. In fact, bumper stickers are some of the most effective marketing tools because they travel everywhere a recipient goes, and they last long after the election is over.

You don’t have to be running for office to effectively utilize lapel pins and bumper stickers as part of your marketing campaign. These cost-effective items are ideal as mass giveaways, and can be easily customized with a company name and logo to provide increased brand exposure.

In addition to being fun and functional, the staying power of promotional products provides an advantage over traditional advertising and mass media. No one can deny that mass media has played a determining role in elections ever since the first televised debates between Robert Nixon and John F. Kennedy Jr. and that the use of social media has become widespread on the campaign trail in recent elections. But while social media is a great way for politicians and businesses to generate buzz, ultimately it is the promotional products that become integrated into everyday life and last long after the TV is turned off and the computer shut down.

Social media that generated buzz last year:

 

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