Current Events News

E3 and Lessons in Competitive Marketing

E3, the annual Electronic Entertainment Expo, started this Monday in sunny Los Angeles. Even if you aren’t big into knowing the latest and greatest in the gaming industry, perhaps you’ve heard about the biggest rivalry going into the event: both Microsoft and Sony were there to show off their new consoles. While the actual products themselves have been amazing to get glimpses of, another thing on display this year is the level of competitive marketing the vendors have brought t his year. So what can you gain from examining this anti-wallflower mentality? Read on!

Creative Commons Licensephoto credit: Ariel Zambelich
As I mentioned above, all eyes have been on Microsoft and Sony and their respective new consoles. Microsoft revealed their Xbox One before E3, and it may have proven a dire mistake. Sony waited until E3 and was able to highlight their system by flaunting in a not so subtle manner the main differences between it and the Xbox One. For example, after the uproar that followed the announcement that the Xbox One would have costly requirements for playing used games, Playstation released this playful jab of a video demonstrating just how easy sharing used games on their console is. Waiting to unveil the Playstation 4, a move that was once criticized, gave  the marketing team the time to develop content that would be timely, relevant to the release, and successful in making in their console look like the superior choice.

Xbox One sounding a little too pricy? Well the Playstation 4 will be $100 less. If you think the Xbox One looks like an ugly VCR,  Sony will be quick to mention the slightly asymmetrical looks of the Playstation 4. For every complaint that has been lodged at the Xbox One, Sony has not so quietly offered a viable alternative. So far, it’s been tastefully funny mockery that has been fun to enjoy as a consumer. Sony has shown that it’s okay to be a fierce competitor, point out flaws, and offer your solutions without slipping into a mess of ugly marketing tactics. And it seems the gamble paid off, Fast Company mentioned that Sony seems to be “winning the event” at this point.

The mentaility at these expos seems to entail forgetting that the competition exists, never mentioned unless the word “exclusive” comes up. Sony has broken through these barriers by throwing convention to the wind. They played coy by waiting to show the world what the console would actually look like; teaching us that shouting “FIRST!” doesn’t necessarily mean your product will win the title of best. We now see that we can poke fun at a competitor without being rude. They’ve stayed on top of the news and the world’s reaction to the new consoles, releasing new content and details about the Playstation 4 to keep themselves in the spotlight as the expo has carried on. It’s a model that is easily applied to every day marketing where occasionally old rules can stifle new creativity; break free of your competitor’s or industry’s  mold

Now in case you’re thinking that Xbox and Playstation only reached these levels of competitive marketing is because Sony and Microsoft are willing to spend thousands in marketing, let me mention the Ouya console. Ouya is the little gaming console that could, and it raised $8.6 million in funding last summer. Not wanting to spend all that hard earned money of the staggeringly high fees of presenting at E3 and with the idea of attending “on its own terms“, they came up with a clever alternative. Ouya rented, will the necessary permits and permissions, parking spaces oppsite the Expo and invited people over to come check out the new console. The company behind E3 retaliated by renting parking spaces in the same lot and blocking Ouya’s stand with trucks. Ouya responded by simply renting more spots in front of the trucks and setting up banners. And that’s when the police were called. However since Ouya had obtained all the right permits, there was nothing amiss going on legally and Ouya still has their stand. The story has made cemented Ouya’s image as the scrapping-indie company to watch for, and given it a firm place amongst the console news coming from E3. The lesson here? Even if you’re considered the broke underdog use everything in your power to create an impression. It may require some extremely creative thinking but as we were all taught in school, “if there’s a will, there’s a way.”

What do you think of the friendly (and in Ouya’s case not so friendly) competition that surrounds product unveilings? Would you prefer to be the one who unveils first or sits back and waits?

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Stepping outside your product comfort zone

Have you ever been suprised by a company’s promotional product offerings? I found myself pleasantly shocked yesterday when I saw the Public Radio Tattoos offered by the This American Life online store. When you think of National Public Radio and it’s offerings, I rarely think of tattoos but instead except something like the fundraiser-drives that offer CDs and tote bags. I would have never thought to offer Sailor Jerry-inspired temporary tattoos, but then again, I’m not This American Life host, Ira Glass.

According to their website, Glass suggested the idea of temporary tattoos only to have colleagues think it was a crazy idea. 70,000 temporary tattoos later, his far-fetched idea has proven a success.

So why did these custom temporary tattoos cause such a stir? Perhaps it has something to do with a survey Harris Interactive did that last year that found 1 in 5 U.S. adults sports a tattoo; being inked is now considered in vogue. With reports that radio is struggling to stay relevant, I can only imagine the drive to connect with a younger audience that may only know to tune into Top 40 stations. These promotional tattoos may seem silly but just take a look on their page to see the spectrum of age groups that have happily applied their temporary tattoo. It’s a fresh, fun idea that gives the recipients instant gratification, and even if the tattoos is left unapplied it can easily hang around a desk monitor as a constant reminder of public radio offerings. If you’d like to know more about the temporary tats, This American Life did their blog post on them here.

What do you think about stepping outside of your product comfort zone: do the rewards outweigh the risks?

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When Products Become Legends

Mashable has a great article out now about a noble quest: a documentary team is leading an expedition into the New Mexico desert to see if there is any truth to the myth that video game maker Atari buried almost 4 million copies of their terrible game, E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial. If this is indeed what happened, it means that Atari spent millions on this failure of a game and then realized that their last alternative was to bury their shame in the New Mexico desert.

Now let’s jump to the most impressive part of this whole ordeal: Atari released this game in 1982 and, if the rumors are correct, this games were buried in 1983. It has been 30 years, an impressive lifespan for such a terrible game. In fact, according to this AP article, one of the reasons the film crew is even being allowed to do this excavation is because the town’s commissioner recalls playing the game and can vividly remember just how terrible it was.

I recently blogged about choosing promotional products that last, but what about those that take on a life of their own? What about those items that become their own versions of Willy Wonka’s golden ticket? Like the Beanie Babies that can go for thousands simply because of a speling error or Pokemon cards that are made extra rare because they are extra shiny.

What traits do both these mythical products, both the failures and successes, share? And, perhaps more importantly, how can this translate into your everyday product choices? I’m sure entire disserations can be written on the nuances, but I’ve chosen my top three traits.

1. There is an urban myth: The Atari  game is the best example of this. The story has lasted as long as it has because it has an urban myth attached to it.There have been plenty of terrible games releases since 1982 but very few have reached these levels of cult notoriety. The possibly buried games have stayed in the limelight for such a long just because their is a possibility that they exist. While you may not be able to create an urban myth immediately on an item you choose, you could always choose a product that hints at an urban myth you can relate to your event or company. After all, most people who go searching for the Loch Ness Monster come back with no proof but some awesome souvenirs.

2. There is rarity: A rare Superman comic found in the insulation of a dilapted house sold for over $100,000; there’s a reason people are willing to spend money of the first editions of old books. People love the idea of having something rare, something not easily attained or available in small quantities. On a broader scale, think of the collaborations that Target does with big name designers: their recent collaboration with Prabal Gurung sold out one day after it was released. Items that were reasonably priced in store were going for double or triple their retail value online. So think of your wording: perhaps phrases like “limited edition” will help make your item the next hot commodity; consider working with local artists to add a touch of exclusivity to your design.

3. There is a feeling that it was worth it: This last point ties closely to rarity. Imagine now that the film crew looking for the buried Atari games does come across them, I imagine there will be both a feeling of deep satisfaction and immense relief that the journey actually produced results. Back to the Target collaboration example from point two, the Prabal Gurung collection allowed people to enjoy clothing by this famous designer who under other circumstances they probably could not afford or find. The lesson here is: make it worth their while. If people stand in line at your tradeshow, give them a sense of satisfaction that it was worth the wait, make the item worth the cost.

Are there any other traits that you would add to this list? And let me know if anyone has actually played the E.T. Atari game, I’ll be waiting with baited breath to see if they do find anything in the desert!

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Air Canada Rouge and Choosing Fashion Forward Uniforms

If we’re being honest it’s easy to cringe at the idea of work uniforms isn’t it? It may conjure up memories of ill-fitting khakis and bland, itchy polos; all in colors that seemed to flatter no one. But, thankfully, times have changed and a work uniform can mimic the lastest fashions. Polyester is now breathable, with wicking capabilities. Bulky blazers can be exchanged for warm cardigans. Employees will be happy to don your uniform, and you customers will be wondering where they can snap up their own pieces.

Need a little more convincing? Then look no further than Air Canada Rouge‘s new cabin crew uniform.

They chose a light grey pant that paired nicely with their cranberry colored cardigans and vests. White polos and dress shirts serve as a neutral base for the ensemble. Everything looks comfortable, a key element for a happy crew during a long or difficult flight.  This just goes to show have far we’ve come from the days when Pan Am’s stewardesses were required to wear girdles and tight skirts. 

promotional accessories

They even paid attention to smaller details like scarves and ties. Each has been imprinted with the Air Canada Rouge logo and in complimentary colors. The trilby hat is a nice extra touch that will be sure to save many a steward and stewardess from dealing from a bad hair day. Air Canada Rouge even had the Canadian shoe company Fluevog create specific colors of their famously comfortable shoes to match.

Rouge is Air Canada’s new leisure line, and they wanted their new brand uniform to reflect the same “je ne sais quoi” that they had based Rouge on. Renee Smith-Valade, vice president of customer experience at Air Canada Rouge, has been quoted as saying that Air Canada Rouge has a personality “which is fresh and youthful” and that certainly has been well translated into their uniform selection. There is nothing overtly formal or stuffy about the look, and, as The Consumerist joked, “Flight attendants can wear them from work to a concert to picking out artisanal marshmallows at the local farmer’s market”. But with destinations such as Venice, Edinburg, and Costa Rica, would this not be the  low key vibe you wanted to present to your passengers? Rouge wants you to feel like you could jet set off with only the fabulous clothes on your back.

The uniforms have been in the limelight since they were first debuted. Bloomber Businessweek has affectionately dubbed them the “Hipster Flight Attendent” look. Design blogs have embraced the uniform as well. To do away with any naysayers who would argue that the uniforms looked better on models than actual flight attendents, Air Canada Rouge chose actual cabin crew members to model the looks, giving an honest view of what this will look like up in the skies.

I’d love to know what  you think about Air Canada Rouge’s new uniforms: too Brookly-hipster or a great take on a classic steward uniform? Personally, I love the uniform, especially the scarf and shoes. But would you wear this “Hipster Flight Attendent” uniform be something you’d wear?

Posted by Admin in Current Events News, 0 comments

Promotional Products for National Dance Like a Chicken Day

I grew up in a town that, much to my young-cosmpolitan horror, proudly billed itself as the Chicken Capital of the World. There is, no lie, a statue that I have dubbed the Monument of the Forgotten Chicken. I can’t even start to make this stuff up. I quickly learned two things when I moved there: when exactly you needed to plug your nose in case you were driving by the chicken plants, and how to do a flawless chicken dance. So today is a day that I have long been prepped to face. It’s National Dance Like A Chicken Day!

We’ve all busted out an ill-advised chicken dance at a prom or wedding. The simple act of flapping your arms and forgoing all embarrassment unites us on a dance floor. Suddenly strangers are friends and you can’t help but laugh. It’s with these unique holidays that you can really plan for some fun promotional products.

I can’t help but smile every time I look at this Chicken Stress Reliever. Imagine breaking up a monotonous Tuesday by placing one of these on an employee’s desk and thanking them for a job well done. If you’d like to blare the chicken song through your company speakers, and start a chicken dance conga line, then I will request you send us the video! Aside from workplace fun, this holiday and it’s promotional products are great for the food industry! Give them away as the adult equivalent to a Happy Meal prize, and have a contest with some giveaways for whoever has the best judged chicken dance. Show your customers that your brand can be relaxed, your company can proudly sashay onto the metaphorical dance floor and really let loose with the rest of us.

Since National Dance Like a Chicken Day is already upon us, you’ll have to make plans to order your items early next year. But if you are still in the market for obscure celebrations, perhaps I could interest you in July’s International Joke Day, National Junk Food Day, or Book Lover’s Day in August? Truly the possibilites are endless.

Merchandising Assistant

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EarthSmart Promotions

Earth Day is fast approaching (April 22nd to be exact!) and we’ve rolled out some great, earth friendly items to help jumpstart your company’s green initiatives. Have you check out our EarthSmart Items category? It’s a great spot to get a few ideas as to how you’ll be celebrating and helping save the earth in your own small ways.

Check back on Thursday when I’ll be posting a few of my EarthSmart picks and some creative ways to use them. Til then, read up on Earth Day’s history and purpose here. If you’re in the Atlanta area, you might want to take a look at what The Atlanta Botanical Garden has planned for the younger set here. Last but not least, if you want to get your celebration started early, consider participating in International Dark Sky week, more info here.

If you’ve tried any Earth Day initiatives, let me know the in the comments! I’d love to hear how it worked out for your company or organization. Personally, I’ll be trying to get my apartment lights under control for Dark Sky week and making sure all my reusable grocery totes are ready to go.

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Promo Products for the Final Four

If you live in Atlanta, like I do, you’re probably pretty aware of what’s going on this weekend.  The NCAA Final Four Basketball Semi-Finals and Championship games are going down at the Georgia Dome.  Louisville will be playing Witchita State and Michigan will be playing Syracuse on Saturday night.  The winner of each game will play each other in the championship on Monday night.

In addition to the games themselves, there’s a ton of stuff going on around town.  If you read our weekend guide, you know that all weekend long will feature free concerts from bands like Dave Matthews and Sting.  Bracket Town, a 4-day family-friendly event inside the Georgia World Congress Center, will be your chance to meet coaches and former college basketball players, get autographs and participate in other sports activities.

While the official NCAA products are sold online at the NCAA Shop, I have a feeling that if you’re downtown this weekend, you’ll still see a lot of promotional products for sale, being given away or on people themselves.  Here’s what I predict we’ll see:

T- shirts

Promotional T-shirts

Obviously fans are going to wear t-shirts showing off the team they want to win.  That also goes for the concerts; fans will show off their favorite bands by donning their t-shirts.  There is also a 5K in the morning on Saturday and I’m sure they’ll give out t-shirts too.


Promotional Pens

Sounds weird for a basketball tournament, but hear me out.  At Bracket Town, kids (and adults for that matter) will have the opportunity to get autographs signed.  Props to the company that thought to get their logo imprinted on the pens that the athletes will be using to sign them.


Promotional Sunglasses

At a huge event like this, handing out promotional sunglasses is a great way to get your brand logo out there and I predict that lots of companies will do just that.  With so many people outside listening to music and just hanging out, I bet custom sunglasses are going to be super popular.

If you’re going to any of the Final Four events (or any other festival-type thing), I’d love to hear what sort of promotional products you saw!

Marketing Coordinator

Posted by Lee in Current Events News, 0 comments

It’s National Margarita Day

So it’s rainy and gross here in Atlanta (and snowy and gross in other parts of the country), and really that’s the perfect weather to celebrate National Margarita Day!  I mean, you might not be on a tropical resort with a drink in hand, but there’s no reason why you can’t fill up your favorite glass with a cold beverage and pretend, right?


Creative Commons License photo credit: joshc

I’m going to let you in on a secret: despite having a fun time writing this post, I don’t really like margaritas. I prefer a glass of wine, really. On the rare occasion when I decide to indulge in a margarita (like today after work to celebrate this holiday, perhaps), I have to admit, I don’t know the difference between the different types that are offered on restaurant menus. Sure, I know that on the rocks is with ice and frozen is blended, but my knowledge of margaritas only goes that far. Texas margarita? What the heck is that?

So, for those of you who share my margarita naivety, I did a little research for you.  A traditional margarita is comprised of three ingredients – tequila, triple sec and lime juice.  Triple sec is used as the sweetener, but you could also use agave nectar, Cointreau or Grand Marnier.  A lot of bartenders use sour mix as well.  Salt is typically put around the rim of the glass.  The contrast of the salt with the sweetness of the liquid enhances the flavor and the experience.

And a Texas Margarita?  It has orange juice in it.

Marketing Coordinator

Posted by Lee in Current Events News, 0 comments

Quadriginoctuple Frap (in a promotional mug?)

Last year, we did a post about the most expensive Starbucks drink.  $23.60 drinks are sooooo 2012 though.  In 2013, the most expensive Starbucks drink came out to a whopping $47.30.

The infamous drink is a Quadriginoctuple Frap, and the main contributor to the phenomenal cost is the 48 shots of espresso.  48 shots?  I’ve had a triple shot latte before and thought I was going to have a heart attack.  Adding to the cost was also soy milk, mocha drizzle, matcha powder, protein powder, caramel brulee topping, strawberries, two bananas, caramel drizzle, frappuccino chips, vanilla bean and whipped cream.

According to the man who ordered the drink, Beau Chevassus, he actually put a lot of thought and research into finding the perfect combination to get such an expensive drink.  The baristas at his local Starbucks were excited to help out.

Yup, it’s $47.30, but he did save ten cents by bringing in his own travel mug.

Marketing Coordinator

Posted by Lee in Current Events News, 0 comments

Promoting American Heart Health Month in February

February is American Heart Health Month and the American Heart Association is celebrating their 10th year of “going Red”. Whenever I read that the #1 killer of women is heart disease it still always surprises me, I’m not sure why. For this reason alone, I am happy to see this campaign gaining traction to educate Americans on living a heart healthy lifestyle. [Quick Tips for Eating a More Heart Healthy Diet below]

Many companies, organizations and nonprofits are celebrating American Heart Health month by wearing red, hosting fundraisers and events, and posting pictures of heart shaped supporters. (Have you seen all these fun, group pictures of people cluster together in a heart shape popping up on Facebook and Pinterest?) Many of these fundraisers giveaway or sell promotional products to support this cause. You can purchase apparel, bags, accessories, and even cookbooks on the American Heart Association’s Official Store,

Maybe your company is looking to create their own heart-inspired promotional products or apparel… well, we definitely have you covered with lots products available in Red as well as heart-shaped products. I’ve created a pinboard, Go Red for American Heart Health Month with a great sampling of products I’ve seen trending and products that we offer with your logo. You can also shop our website to find many more red promotional products.



Quick Tips for Eating a More Heart Healthy Diet

  1. Choose foods that are low in saturated fat and cholesterol. Look for foods displaying the American Heart Association’s heart-check mark to quickly and easily spot heart-healthy foods in the supermarket.  Check out to learn more.
  2. Select fruits and vegetables that are deeply colored throughout – such as spinach, carrots, and berries. They tend to be higher in vitamins and minerals. Berries are rich in a type of antioxidant called polyphenols, which can lower blood pressure and boost “good” HDL cholesterol.
  3. Switch from using butter to olive oil or canola oil which can lower cholesterol levels.
  4. Choose whole-grain, high fiber breads instead of white bread. The soluble fiber in whole-grain foods reduces the absorption of bad LDL cholesterol into the bloodstream, helping to keep arteries clear.
  5. Eat more fish. The American Heart Association recommends you eat one serving of grilled or baked fish at least twice a week.

Is your company or organization incorporating causes and non-profit work in their company culture? What causes do you support?


Merchandising Manager

Posted by Admin in Current Events News, Seasonal Marketing Ideas, 0 comments