McDonald's To Add Books To Happy Meals As part of a new multi-year campaign, McDonald's has announced it will give away 20 million kids' books with its Happy Meals starting next month. Read Article
In the first promotion phase, the restaurant chain will offer four different books – which will replace toys in Happy Meals – between November 1 and November 14.
"We think that this is a fun and engaging way to give a nutritional message to kids," said Ubong Ituen, vice president of marketing for McDonald's USA. "This is really the first step in a larger book strategy, and our intent is to continue over several years."
The four books include titles like "The Goat Who Ate Everything" and "Deana's Big Dreams." The former tells of a goat with a big appetite that learns to control its eating and the latter features a small dinosaur that grows tall by eating properly. The book release is set to begin on National Literacy Day.
The promotion of the four books, which don't involve traditional restaurant characters like Ronald McDonald, is the chain's latest response to critics of its marketing message. Consumer advocacy groups have long argued that McDonald's Happy Meal toy promotions have been deceptive and sought to lure children into restaurants with no regard for nutrition or good health. McDonald's has vigorously defended its advertising, even vowing in 2011 to produce strictly nutrition-friendly campaigns for kids going forward.
Subsequently, according to Kantar Media, McDonald's has cut its media spending to promote Happy Meals. In 2011, McDonald's spent about $95 million to advertise Happy Meals. Last year, the chain spent just $57.4 million in the U.S. and it's pace for even less related spending in 2013, data shows. McDonald's, meanwhile, contends its latest marketing plans are appropriate and responsible, with the book promotion simply another component of an improved strategy.
The U.S. book promotion comes after a similar Happy Meal tie-in overseas in Great Britain earlier this year. McDonald's has estimated it will, at least temporarily, become the largest children's book distributor in England, with a total of 15 million books given out by the end of 2014.
No other restaurant chains have announced kids' meal book promotions to date. "Perhaps McDonald's will help bring the value of books to the forefront," said Roni Wright, vice president of The Book Company (asi/41010). "McDonald's has validated that books are an extremely meaningful and powerful promotional product – something we've known for years."
American Apparel Reports Q3 Sales
Counselor Top 40 supplier American Apparel (asi/35297) announced this morning that its overall sales for the quarter ended September 30 increased 1% to $164.1 million. Read Article
Wholesale net sales – which includes the company’s promotional products segment – rose 3%. For the month of September, total net sales at American Apparel decreased to $49.9 million, a 2% year-over-year decline. Comparable store sales last month fell 6%, including an 8% decrease in comparable store sales in the retail store channel. However, wholesale net sales again showed strength, increasing 12% in September.
"I am proud that we were able to demonstrate healthy increases in sales in two out of our three sales channels, a testament to the fact that the American Apparel brand remains extremely strong and continues to resonate with consumers and wholesale buyers of clothing worldwide," said Dov Charney, chairman and CEO of American Apparel, in a statement.
According to Charney, American Apparel’s mixed September revenues were a result of "significant difficulties in the launch" of the manufacturer’s new distribution center in La Mirada, CA. "A multitude of issues, including technical, planning, staffing and design and integration, resulted in distractions in various aspects of our operations, including store operations, manufacturing and product development," Charney said.
Even as it sorts through its challenges in La Mirada, American Apparel is still planning to open several new stores over the next few months in Lyon, France, Stratford, United Kingdom, and Atlanta, GA, as well as a new flagship store in New York City. "We are sensing major opportunities overseas both online and in terms of new store possibilities," said Charney. "Additionally our wholesale business is showing major signs of strength despite distribution challenges, and I expect same store sales to be positive in the fourth quarter in all channels, including online, retail, and wholesale."
Ranked by Counselor as the 14th largest supplier in the industry, American Apparel reported 2012 North American ad specialty sales of $96.8 million, a year-over-year increase of 7.3%.
Bangladesh Factory Fire Kills At Least Seven
Renewing safety concerns in the Asian country, a factory fire late Tuesday at the Aswad Knit Composite factory in Sripur, near the capital Dhaka, killed at least seven people and injured dozens of others. Read Article
The cause of the fire, which began in the knitting unit and later spread to three other buildings in the compound, is unknown, although Bangladeshi officials are investigating. Most of the factory's 3,000 employees had already gone home for the night before the fire broke out.
"This latest fire to affect the ready-made garment sector in Bangladesh reflects the sad and shocking truth that not enough is being done to address the safety and health of garment factory workers," said Guy Ryder, the International Labour Organization's director-general, in a statement.
The Sripur fire comes about six months after a Bangladesh factory collapsed, killing more than 1,100 people. Since then, human rights groups have demanded Bangladesh's government, its factory owners and the Western companies that manufacture or source from Bangladesh improve working conditions there. Most recently, thousands of Bangladeshi garment factory workers staged violent protests last month, aiming to increase their monthly pay. During the protests, about 400 of the country's 5,000 garment factories were forced to close.
Bangladesh earns about $20 billion a year – about 80% of its total exports – by selling clothes to major European and American brands and retailers.
The Joe Show: Band Together
In this episode of The Joe Show, Managing Editor Joe Haley showcases several products that can help you gain an edge over your competition. Looking for a great item to pitch to veterinarians? Read Article
Need a unique giveaway idea for fall golf outings? Want a new way to win business in the education market?
Jornik Acquires Zan Enterprises
Supplier Jornik Manufacturing Corp. (asi/63549) on Tuesday acquired Zan Enterprises Inc., a contract printer formerly located in Brooklyn, NY. Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed.
“The acquisition of Zan Enterprises has afforded us increased capacity for handling the significant growth of Jornik’s product line, as well as providing a full service department for a myriad of contract printing projects,” said Jacquie Herz, president of Jornik. “This will not only enable us to provide enhanced service to our distributors on our regular line, but significantly boosts our capabilities in decorating a vast array of items. Zan’s current customers have been very pleased with the smooth transition.”
Jornik will retain a small number of Zan’s employees. Kathy Mazzanti, the owner of Zan, will join the supplier as well on a reduced schedule. “We have known of Kathy and Zan for some time and have had a good relationship with them,” said Jornik CEO Peter Herz. “Over the years we have seen that the quality of their printing has been superb. They have taken on challenging contract decorating jobs that were only possible with imaginative leadership and knowledge. This workmanship and management philosophy fit in with our organization perfectly.”
Based in Stamford, CT, Jornik is an ASI five-star supplier that offers toys, writing instruments, flashlights and many other items. Zan Enterprises specializes in a number of printing methods, including pad printing, injection molding, hot stamping and CAD/CAM.
Counselor Commentary: Pink Takeover
If it's October, it means the color pink is showing up nearly everywhere. Charity walks, sporting events, school outings – they're all completely geared up with pink paraphernalia designed to raise awareness of and money to help prevent breast cancer. In fact, the American Cancer Society has labeled October as Breast Cancer Awareness Month, and many are catching on. Take a look at National Football League games on Sunday. You'll see the color pink all over the fields – player cleats, towels, hats, gloves. Last weekend, the referees during games even threw pink flags every time they called a penalty.
The real driver of pink business as far as the promotional products market is concerned, though, are the bread and butter of the non-profit sector: live events. It's those 5K runs, charity walks, festivals, and so many of the other group gatherings you see every weekend in nearly every community this month that are helping to drive huge business. The American Cancer Society estimates that it gets about a fifth of its annual revenues in October, thanks to the many live events it sponsors and benefits from.
Distributors, too, are benefiting from the rise in non-profit marketing. In fact, about 5% of overall distributor revenues come from non-profit clients – a total of about $1 billion a year. There's an extension, though, of this sector that distributors should absolutely be looking to capitalize on: Live events. Nearly every industry today – not just in the non-profit sector – is looking to connect with their customers on a more relational, one-to-one basis, and this is happening in many cases through live event marketing.
A recent survey from research firm Towers Perrin estimates that the amount spent on live event marketing has grown by about 20% in the past three years alone. Even further, the number of companies that have implemented live events into their marketing plans over the past two years has grown by 25%. Of course, most of these companies are looking to have their constituents leave these live events with reminders and ad messages, and that's where promotional products come in. It's a pretty good bet that there's not a single marketing event happening today – including the ones surrounding Breast Cancer Awareness Month – in which attendees don't leave with a promotional item of some kind. Are you tapping into the vibrant live event market and discussing potential events with each and every one of your clients? You should be. That's where marketing is headed. Just look around you this month.
Alipay To Purchase Stake In Asset Manager
China-based Alipay, which is controlled by Zhejiang Alibaba E-Commerce Co. and Alibaba Group, has agreed to buy a majority stake in Tianhong Asset Management Co. for 1.18 billion yuan ($192.8 million). The deal will strengthen the Chinese financial services operations of Alibaba, which is poised to file an initial public offering in New York.
Prior to the agreement, Tianhong and Alipay already had a working partnership, as the pair launched a fund and payment platform called Yu E Bao in June. In less than three weeks, the fund attracted more than 2.5 million customers, raising 6.6 billion yuan ($1.08 billion), according to Tianhong.
"In order to give investors in Yu E Bao more security, improve innovation and provide more products and services, we have chosen to cooperate with Tianhong Asset Management," Alipay said on its microblog.
Currently, Alipay is China's largest third-party payment platform, with 800 million registered accounts. Alipay formally broke away from Alibaba Group in 2011, although Counselor Power 50 member Jack Ma remains the controlling influence for the online payment services firm.
Road Tour 2013: Around The Country In Eight Days
It's not something you get used to. Sitting in a cramped car – loaded with camera equipment, travel bags, computers, and boxes of t-shirts – with co-workers as you rush across the country can be an exhilarating and crazy experience. Three Counselor editors are about to embark on our third annual Counselor Best Places to Work Road Tour – we'll visit 16 companies – both distributors and suppliers, all of which are honored on the 2013 Counselor Best Places to Work list – in the span of eight days.
Leaving from ASI's Trevose, PA, headquarters on Monday, October 14, we'll begin in New Jersey for our first company visit – and then proceed through Pennsylvania for an overnight stop before a busy three-company-visit day on Tuesday. No hints yet about the companies we'll be dropping in on during the Road Tour, but we hear we'll be doing push-ups, donning costumes, and sampling as much regional food along the way as possible.
Yep, on this trip, we're up for anything – and the companies we visit tend to throw the kitchen sink at us. Our video cameras, iPhones, iPads, and notebooks will be ready to record everything as we go, so make sure to follow along at www.CounselorMag.com/roadtour, or on Twitter with the hashtag #counselortour. There will be videos, pics, and blogs updated daily. Need an incentive to pop in and post comments? At the end of the trip, we'll award a $100 Gift Card, along with Counselor Best Places to Work Road Tour memorabilia, to a winner chosen at random from all the viewers that post a comment to the #counselortour hashtag on Twitter.
Along for the Best Places to Work ride are Melinda Ligos (@ASI_melinda), Andy Cohen (@ASI_andycohen), and Joe Haley (@ASI_joehaley). Will the car be big enough for this game group? What kind of high jinks will the weary travelers encounter along the thousands of miles that they'll traverse? Join us October 14 to October 22 to find out. Go to www.CounselorMag/roadtour to see it all unfold.
Survey: Workers Prefer Holiday Gifts From Employers
Nearly 80% of American workers would rather receive a great holiday gift than have an office party, according to the 2013 Holiday Business Gift Survey released this week by Lands' End Business Outfitters (asi/250566). The percentage of employees preferring a holiday gift grew 12% compared to one year ago.
"The holidays are a natural time to recognize employees and business partners with a thoughtful gift," said Carl Atwell, senior vice president of Lands' End Business Outfitters. "Our survey shows that people really appreciate those gifts."
According to the survey, the best time for corporate gift shopping is now through November 30 – a window of time that distributors can take advantage of. "I think budgets are loosening and employers are shifting their focus to recognizing and thanking their employees during the holiday season," said Jim Guarnera, national account director with 2020 Promotions, Inc. (asi/170720).
For the holidays, data shows that many employers (42%) prefer to give workers apparel, with gift cards (28%) and bags/totes (27%) close behind. Yet, 45% of employees prefer to receive a holiday cash bonus, followed by gift cards (23%) and apparel (11%).
While employees value cash as gifts, Linda Stevens, owner of LS Enterprises (asi/246865), has had success providing staff gifts like logoed vests, zip-up hooded sweatshirts, duffel bags and blankets. "Employees like cash, yes, but as we all know, it is spent and there is nothing tangible," she said. "Their employees are proud of the articles they receive."
ASI Radio: Friendly Business Advice
On this week's Tuesday Morning Show, the hosts shared the best business lesson they had ever learned. Among the advice the hosts offered up: make friends with your competitors, be careful what you send over e-mail and never assume someone who's older is wiser.
Click here to listen to the full segment and hear more tips. If you missed the show, a recording is now available at www.asicentral.com/radio. And, don't forget to join us on Tuesday, October 15, for our next broadcast. Log on at 10:30 a.m. ET to listen to the show – and give us a call at (215) 953-4979 to hear your voice on the air.
Vote For The Wearables Top Decorator
Two great decorators remain in the final round of the Wearables Top Decorator competition, and your vote will determine our champion. Click here to vote for your favorite. Hurry – voting ends Friday, October 11.
In The News
Admints & Zagabor (asi/31516) has announced a partnership with Hebert Handcrafted Chocolates to market its flavored chocolate bars to the ad specialty industry. Admints will carry 15 Hebert chocolate bar flavors and the partnership was effective as of October 1. For more information, visit www.admints.com.
ForMyReason (asi/55062) has introduced a patent-pending photo-frame silicone wristband product, which has a molded window on the band in which a photo can be inserted. For more information, go to www.formyreason.com.
GatewayCDI (asi/202515) has implemented a new product safety initiative that encourages its supplier partners to follow strict safety standards. Each year going forward, the distributor will internally rank suppliers, based on their compliance relating to product safety standards. Through the initiative, GatewayCDI hopes to partner with suppliers to further educate their own employees, as well as clients on the importance of product safety within the industry.
Interall Group (asi/63092) has launched a new website at www.interallgroup.com. The new site features optimization for mobile devices, a new search function, and gives users the ability to share items with others directly from the site.
Natural Trends (asi/73497) has announced the three winners of its recent WD-40 No Mess Pens giveaway. Michelle Kennedy of GreatGifts4U was the winner of the "Most Unique" category for distributors, and Clayton Bowen through distributor Matt Davidson of LOGO Dynamics won the customer category. Sean Perry of Direct Promotions won the random drawing. All three winners will receive a 500-piece order of WD-40 No Mess Pens.
Prime Line (asi/79530) is celebrating Customer Service Week at the company this week. Designed to honor the supplier's customer care team, the company is hosting daily events, including a pep rally, carnival-themed games and bingo games with prizes.
Sterling Cut Glass (asi/89663) was selected to provide 4,000 deep-etched Double Old Fashioned glasses for the christening of the USS Gerald R. Ford. The items will be distributed to attendees of the event, which is scheduled to take place on November 9.
THE ADVANTAGES ROADSHOW IS VISITING THE MIDWEST NEXT WEEK
The Advantages Roadshow is coming to the Midwest and distributors are invited to attend for FREE. Delivering top suppliers and hot, money-making products, the Roadshow is the most cost-effective and time-efficient way to find answers to your clients' fourth-quarter needs.
Come on over. All distributors are invited to attend the Advantages Roadshow for FREE. The morning schedule features distributor education from 7:45 a.m.-9 a.m. and tabletop exhibits from 9 a.m.-1 p.m.
Visit www.advantagesroadshow.com to register for free and to review the complete Advantages Roadshow schedule. Distributors can register on show site with a valid business card.