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Best Holiday Self-Promotion:
Supplier: Arrow Advertising Co. LLC (asi/124500)

It’s not surprising that when Arrow Advertising wanted to send a holiday promotion to its clients, it chose the critically-acclaimed, award-winning AMC show Mad Men from which to build its theme. The show is crafted around a fictional advertising agency located in New York City in the swinging ’60s – the halcyon heyday of slick ad campaigns, in-office smoking and four-martini lunches.

Arrow Advertising (asi/124500), also located in NYC and founded in the early ’60s, paid homage to the show with its clever holiday mailer. From the graphic on the front – the silhouette of a reindeer with a candy cane in its hoof, meant to simulate Mad Men’s iconic logo of lead character Don Draper – to the contents, Arrow nailed the ambiance that the show depicts with tongue firmly planted in cheek.

Opening the box, you’re greeted with a postcard welcoming you to “Party Like It’s 1965!” on one side, and holiday wishes from the Arrow team and its partners on the other. The real prize, though, is under the Styrofoam: two lowball glasses, a silver cocktail shaker and a brushed silver Zippo lighter – all subtly etched with the company’s logo, which was revamped for the occasion to include font and symbols pertinent to the era – and bubblegum “Kings” cigarettes.

The reaction from recipients, not surprisingly, was off-the-charts. “People just loved it, and kept calling and e-mailing us to say so,” says Laura Paulino, Arrow Advertising’s account manager. And while the cost per piece wasn’t cheap – about $40 – the subsequent business and buzz it generated is paying off in spades. Paulino says Arrow has received numerous referrals and orders the company is currently working on.

“This year we wanted a gift that conveyed our good taste and sense of humor, but above all, we wanted a gift that allowed us to make a genuine connection between our company and our customers,” Paulino says. “After a brainstorming session led by our kick-butt art director, Peggy Strauss, we had our theme: Mad Men. Why? Let’s face it: regardless of whether or not you love the show, everyone has a soft spot for the fashion, lifestyle and spirit of the ’60s." – MB


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Best Holiday Self-Promotion
Best Distributor Self-Promotion Campaign
Best Distributor Self-Promotion Campaign
Distributor: Bluegrass Promotional Marketing (asi/141964)

Self-promotions are in the DNA of Bluegrass Promotional Marketing LLC (asi/141964). According to CEO Fred Parker, “We continue to invest in self-promotions mainly because of the results that we get. One consistency is that they lead to appointments where sales folks have not been able to penetrate through cold-calling efforts. Those appointments lead to orders and customers.”

Last year, Bluegrass’s campaign focused on their ongoing theme, “Bluegrass is the Answer.” According to Parker, their philosophy is that the product is just the vehicle that helps bring their message to life. “We focus on the message and then we look at how we want to communicate that message,” he says.

They came up with three separate items with a unique focus and target audience. The laptop sleeves were geared toward both male and female clients and prospects with different color versions for each. The male version is a black sleeve with gray interior and the female version is brown with pink interior. The custom packaging for the sleeves had a design that looks like a laptop when it is closed or open. In their messaging, Bluegrass was trying to focus on their technological capabilities to deliver “Next Gen High Performance” company Web stores.

The second item in the campaign was a mini basketball. Bluegrass chose this item to focus on their exceptional “team” approach in meeting their clients’ promotional marketing needs.

Thirdly, the deluxe salad kit was geared to both men and women, but targeted primarily to female clients and prospects. For a special added touch, Bluegrass included a set of six custom salad recipe cards in the bottom of the salad container. Here, Bluegrass focused on its ability to deliver fresh, new ideas as opposed to soggy leftover concepts.

The goal of the campaign was to generate more business, but past that, “It’s about the support that we can provide to our salespeople,” says Parker. “We try to really create and provide tools for our sales force that makes it very easy for them.”

The proof is in the numbers. Bluegrass calculated that the campaign led to 53 appointments, which equated to 32 new clients with first-time order sales greater than $200,000. All of these promos have been extremely successful with Bluegrass sales reps as well as their clients/prospects. This is evidenced by a 30% increase in sales for 2010. – JV


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Best Client Promotion:
Distributor: Sunrise Identity (asi/339206) & Starbucks

When Starbucks was ready to celebrate its 40th anniversary, Bellevue, WA-based distributor Sunrise Identity LLC (asi/339206) knew it was their time to shine. Sunrise has sustained a profitable 20-year relationship with Starbucks. “We started out in the very early stages as a screen printer. We did shirts for their store openings. Over the years, we have evolved together,” says Nelson Jay, vice president of marketing and creative services for Sunrise Identity.

In the summer of 2010, Starbucks was working on a rebranding effort that tied into the company’s 40th anniversary. As part of the festivities, Starbucks created a new roast called Tribute Blend. Starbucks approached Sunrise for some ideas on how to promote this new blend. “It’s great when you can come up with a product that so directly speaks to what they were all about,” Jay says.

A few months later, Starbucks wanted to generate additional excitement around the new blend. Although there were several items on the short list, the final choice was ceramic taster cups. “Glassware and cups have a high perceived value,” Jay says.

Starbucks decided that the taster cups would be an exclusive offer in their national rollout of the blend. They sent out an e-mail to Starbucks Gold Card members one week prior to announcing the new blend to the general public. The e-mail contained an invitation to purchase a one-pound bag of Tribute Blend. “When you made the purchase, you received the taster cup,” Jay says. The taster cups were shipped directly to consumers with the coffee – they were not available in stores.

The result was impressive. Sunrise produced 4,000 ceramic taster cups featuring the new logo. “In less than 24 hours after the offer went live, the taster cups were gone,” Jay says.

He saw the success firsthand. As a loyal Gold Card customer, Jay received the targeted communication from Starbucks saying that the Tribute Blend gift with purchase was available. “The next day, I got the same e-mail, but the cup was not featured,” he says. “I e-mailed my contact at Starbucks asking if it was possible that the cups were gone. They told me that the Tribute Blend launch was the most successful limited edition coffee run in the history of the company.” – JV

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Best Client Promotion
Best Supplier Self-Promotion Campaign
Best Supplier Self-Promotion Campaign:
Supplier: Polyconcept North America

For Counselor Top 40 supplier Polyconcept North America (PCNA), its marketing challenge to solve was getting more West Coast clients to buy from its subsidiaries – Leed’s (asi/66887) and Bullet (asi/42424), both East Coast suppliers. PCNA’s marketing team has to overcome the perception that it’s too expensive to buy from the East Coast due to pricey freight costs. “The company reduced our freight costs and made them at least competitive, if not better, than that of suppliers closer to the West Coast,” says Melissa Lehman, marketing communications specialist at PCNA.

The PCNA team, led by Leanne Finney, director of marketing, developed a multi-layered program that had a wide reach due to its execution using a myriad of promotional components, including mailings, advertising and “leave behind” samples from the company’s sales team when visiting clients.

Print ads were placed in the newsletters of West Coast regional ad specialty associations and a tip-in ad was included for the West Coast distribution of Advantages, Counselor’s sister magazine that targets distributor sales reps. Additionally, West Coast distributors received two mailings – a post card describing the details of the reduced-cost shipping program and a custom notepad from JournalBooks (asi/91340), another of PCNA’s subsidiaries, that also described the program’s highlights.

Lastly, PCNA sales reps were given a “leave behind” piece to share with distributor partners during sales calls – the company’s popular “Leaf” memo clip, made of recycled materials, imprinted with the words “33% off ground rates.”

The result? PCNA’s message was delivered loud and clear. Its goal was for sales growth on the West Coast to outpace sales growth overall. California’s growth exceeded both reported industry growth and overall sales growth. One client, Benjamin Litho Inc., did most of its business with one of PCNA’s West Coast competitors prior to this promotion, reports Lehman. “Now, almost every order they do with us ships ‘WCF’ (West Coast Freight),” she says. “That, paired with our quick turnaround times, is an easy sell.” – MB


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Best New Media Promotion
Supplier: AddVenture Products (asi/31940)

When a company can combine the product it sells along with an integrated marketing campaign focused mostly on new media outlets (social networking, websites, online video, QR codes), it’s onto something good. That’s precisely what AddVenture Products (asi/31940) has done with its Compressed Kathleen Project over the past 12-18 months.

Conceived by account manager Kathleen Milbier to promote the company’s brand and its products – yes, compressed T-shirts – the campaign has become one of the industry’s true new-media success stories. “Over a year ago, when the economy took a hit and I knew that budgets would be shrinking, I decided we had to come up with a way to both differentiate our company and promote our brand,” Milbier says.

Enter the Compressed Kathleen Project, a promotion based on the journey of Flat Stanley in so many elementary schools across the country. The concept: Have a compressed T-shirt – with a caricature of Milbier herself printed on the front – passed around, and everybody who comes in contact with it takes a photo of themselves with it and uploads it to a website and/or Facebook and Twitter.

“The point is for people to take a photo with it wherever they are – on vacation, out to dinner, meeting new people,” Milbier says. “It has been great for our brand awareness.”

Milbier started the interactive element of the campaign with a Facebook page and Twitter handle, but has since expanded to a dedicated website and blog. The blog now has 10,000 hits, in addition to the campaign’s more than 700 Twitter and Facebook followers. Even further, Milbier and AddVenture have run similar campaigns for distributor clients. “Our motto is that we don’t want to just be about price quotes; we want to develop relationships with clients. This has really helped to do that.”

And, this year, AddVenture added a QR code to the back of the Compressed Kathleen T-shirts. When somebody scans the QR code, their smart phone is launched to a YouTube video about the whole campaign. But Milbier isn’t done with the use of new media just yet – she’s looking into adding an app for the project. “That’s the next direction, as we definitely want to expand it even further.” – AC


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Best New Media Promotion

Best Counselor Ad - General
Best Counselor Ad – General
Supplier: Debco (asi/48885)
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Best Counselor Ad – Insert
Supplier: Drummond Printing (asi/50873).
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Best Counselor Ad - Insert
Best Counselor Ad - Distributor
Best Counselor Ad – Distributor
Distributor: iPROMOTEu (asi/232119)
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Best Advantages Ad
Supplier: Nike Retail Services (asi/73000)
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Best Advantages Ad
Best Counselor Ad - Apparel

 

Best Counselor Ad – Apparel
Supplier: Nike Retail Services (asi/73000)
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Best ESP Ad
Supplier: HumphreyLine Inc. (asi/62050)

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Best ESP Ad
Best E-Mail Express Ad
Best E-Mail Express Ad
Supplier: Bay State Specialty (asi/38980)
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Best Counselor Ad - Custom Publication
Supplier: Blue Generation (asi/40653)
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Best Counselor Ad - Custom Publication
Best Catalog Page
Best Catalog Page
Supplier: Ariel Premium Supply (asi/36730)
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