Best Promos

The Five Winners Of Our Annual Campaign Awards

When does a marketing campaign work? When a recipient opens up a box or mailer and is immediately engaged. It motivates the person to interact with the advertised brand – and ultimately to make a purchase.

The winners of our Best Promotions awards for 2012 certainly fulfill those goals. From a holiday promotion that individually honored each recipient and an interactive multimedia campaign that entertained and educated a target audience to a campaign to launch a new television network and one that took a Halloween theme to the extreme, these five case studies show off the creativity – and ingenuity – of industry companies. Take a look.

Best Distributor Self-Promotion - PROMOSHOP

With the intent of touting its extensive creative services and capabilities, Counselor Top 40 distributor PromoShop (asi/300446) packaged its message in a custom-made "Fragile: Handle With Care" box. Inside, along with a logoed, Valentine's Day-themed rubber ducky (the promo was sent out in February), was a mini TV – powered by a vCard – cued up with a PromoShop commercial on a constant loop. The wow factor alone, says PromoShop's executive vice president Kris Robinson, was enough to stop recipients in their tracks.

"Three hundred pieces were ordered, and they went out sporadically as this was not meant to be a 'mass mailer,' but a select one to send to certain prospects," Robinson says. "With the pieces we've sent out, we already received four orders from clients for the vCard and about 23 requests for other projects due to the mailer – all new clients except for two. Based on that kind of response, we are anticipating even more business, as this is a huge success."

Robinson concedes that the mailer wasn't cheap, with the vCard alone costing $25 per piece, but adds, "You can't put a price on a good thing."

A smart use of technology integrated with a traditional mailer equals a successful promotion that certainly grabbed the attention of its recipients. Robinson says his company immediately heard from prospects trying to figure out how they could integrate the technology into their own marketing campaigns. What do you call it when clients want to emulate a self-promotion you sent them? Success.

Best Distributor Self-Promotion

Best Holiday Promotion - ROBYN PROMOTIONS

For its holiday campaign last year, distributor Robyn Promotions (asi/309656) decided to eschew the staid chocolate and candy and capitalize on the biggest trend in incentive management these days: personalization. "We decided to build our own company store to let our VIPs choose their own individual gifts," says Brian Blake, director of marketing.

Showing off both its online store and incentive marketing capabilities, Robyn sent an e-mail invitation, as well as a hand-delivered photo frame with pictures of the featured products, inviting recipients to log in and check out the dedicated holiday gift website. Wanting to thank its clients, but realizing that it couldn't please everyone with a single item, Robyn went with a unique individual approach to corporate gifts last year. There were also three price levels of gifts, so Robyn could reward its best clients with the nicest items, and others down the customer food chain accordingly.

"For instance, the guy who receives our product at the dock did not get the same level of access as the person who places the orders with us," Blake says. "Of course, our visitors only saw the categories we gave them access to, so they weren't viewing anything that they couldn't choose for themselves."

It was a concept that definitely surprised and motivated Robyn's clients. A total of 85 people participated in the online holiday gift program, and the responses from customers have been very positive. "People loved the idea of being able to choose their own gift," Blake says. "We had a couple of corporate clients who were concerned about how much the gifts cost (due to their company policies), so they opted for towers of food to share with their entire departments."

Ultimately, the holiday promotion was successful because it showed off Robyn's capabilities and enticed clients to spend more with Robyn. As a result of the campaign, Blake says, "One of our six-figure clients signed a three-year contract with us, and an even larger client placed a six-figure order with us."

Best Holiday Promotion


To announce and engage Hispanic TV network Univision's partners about the launch of the new novella network, TLNovela, Counselor Top 40 distributor Axis Promotions (asi/128263) worked with Univision's ad agency to come up with a promo that really took flight.

Using a battery-operated butterfly powered to flutter when touched, contained in a logo-etched mason jar, Axis touted the new novella network with a custom-size box and a printed information card. About 500 pieces were sent out to all clients who currently air Univision, as well as potential new clients, costing approximately $40 each. On the outside of the box was a glossy imprint of a diaphanous wing and the words "This one's a keeper"; on the inside, an information card with the words "Love is on the air. Now you can set millions of Hispanic hearts aflutter," tying back to the theme of the romance-based tele-novellas.

Lisa Pine, Axis' vice president of sales, oversaw the campaign and points out that it was a collaborative project with the distribution marketing team, the design company and Axis, and says the goal was to communicate "taking off" with the butterfly. "We looked for something that had those qualities," Pine notes. "We discovered the butterfly in the mason jar at Think Geek. The logo is pink, but to differentiate we shipped pink butterflies to female recipients and blue butterflies to male recipients."

The reaction? "Recipients were blown away by this mailing," Pine says. "The response was fantastic. It's completely engaging, captures the essence of the butterfly element in the logo, is active and lives on."

Best Client Promotion


Many distributors take on efforts to educate their clients about the importance and value of promotional products. Motivators Inc. embarked on an educational and marketing campaign last year to do just that – but this one was solely conducted through online means. Videos, blogs, Facebook pages and Twitter posts were strategically weaved together throughout the past year to ensure that Motivators' customers always knew about the utility of promotional items – and the marketing possibilities that ad specialties provide.

Through humor and education, the campaign resulted in videos that enticed customers and prospects alike to ramp up their use of promotional products. The company's YouTube channel consists of new videos every week showing off the capabilities of new items – like the one it recently posted showing off the durability of a cell phone case that it sells. With Pat Benatar playing in the background, viewers see a cell phone dropped into a bucket of water from four stories high, Motivators employees playing air hockey with the cell phone as the hockey puck, and even one cell phone engulfed in a security case being dragged on the cement behind a speeding motorcycle. The video ends with a phone being dropped from a bridge that's 12 stories high into a grass field.

The phone survives every stunt – and the star of the show is the case that Motivators is selling and educating clients about. "We use these videos to connect with clients and let them know about the marketing possibilities of promotional products," says Kim Laffer, who's the head of Motivators' multimedia efforts. "It gives us a great outlet to educate and surprise people."

Connected to the dedicated video website are company blogs, personal blogs of employees and a busy Twitter feed. In all, it's an integrated new-media campaign that entertains its growing audience – more than 200,000 video views, 1,440 Facebook likes and 1,400 Twitter followers.

Best New-Media Promotion

Best Supplier Self-Promotion - ADMORE INC.

By building its annual self-promotion campaign around a holiday known for spine-tingling spookiness, Admore Inc. (asi/32050), a division of Counselor Top 40 supplier Ennis, succeeded in three areas: generating sales, showcasing its creativity and setting the company apart from its competition.

Admore, a manufacturer of premium presentation folders and related items, uses Halloween as a yearly showcase of its creative abilities. In 2011, it built its ninth-annual self-promo campaign around Edgar Allen Poe's famed poem "The Raven." With a stark black textured folder stamped with a ghost imprint of a raven, the company printed a customized poem touting its services on heavy-stock paper made to look like parchment and a coupon die-cut in the shape of a quill pen. The 11,000 prospects and customers who received it were speechless – and not from fright.

"The neat thing about this promotion is we get calls starting around mid-July from customers making sure they're on the mailing list for the Halloween promo," says John Andersen, sales manager for Admore. "In response to this mailer, we received 93 orders totaling $102,000 that referenced our 'Poe' discount code from the coupon printed on the quill to date."

In addition to the folder, other aspects of the promotion featured coffee mugs with the Raven/Admore logo for front-office staff and key account customers. The mugs contained M&Ms imprinted with the Admore and Raven logo, with the slogan "Quoth the Raven."

"We also had Alstyle Apparel, another Ennis company, produce dark gray shirts with a large black raven on the back, and the Admore/Raven logo with '2011' on the front," Andersen says. "We look forward to doing these every year; we have fun with the Halloween theme as well as introduce a new graphic enhancement or show a combination of techniques so customers can show their customers all things that are possible. They've been real showpieces for us."

Best Supplier Self-Promotion

— Twitter: ASI_MBell. Twitter: ASI_AndyCohen.