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Industry Joins Fight Against Breast Cancer

Filed under: Industry Initiatives, Using Ad Specialties

In October, during National Breast Cancer Awareness month, the promotional products industry is following the lead of the NFL, MLB and NHL to help raise money for cancer research – using unique, sports-themed items targeted at men.

Pink boxing gloves, hockey pucks, baseball bats and beyond are joining the ubiquitous pink ribbons adorning women’s fashion to raise money and awareness. Anyone trying to raise money for this cause should consider broadening their scope to include men – and what better way to do that than with stuff you can hit, throw, whack and wear?

The professional sports community jumped on the cancer awareness bandwagon with campaigns like NFL’s A Crucial Catch. In partnership with the American Cancer Society, the NFL is auctioning off pink game apparel worn during October. Major League Baseball auctions off pink Louisville Sluggers during games played on Mother’s Day and the National Hockey League raises money through its Hockey Fights Cancer initiative.

Numerous promotional products companies are also donating a portion of profits from pink items to the cause, including Alumicolor, of Fort Collins, Colorado, which donates 10% of the list price of aluminum pink rulers to breast cancer research, and Kingport Industries, of Northbrook, Illinois, which donates a portion of profits from its “pink ribbon” collection to the American Cancer Society and other affiliated organizations.

Diana Haake, owner of Promotional Product Partners, created several hundred shirts for a breast cancer awareness event last year. “It brought in students from several local high schools for an all-day event, and they received the shirt for participating,” she says. “It was very well received.”

Another distributor, Win Oppel, president of Ad-Merica (asi/107275), recently created breast cancer awareness umbrellas for a client. He’s also worked with St. Vincent’s Medical Center Foundation in Connecticut on developing a set of ornaments, featuring a logo designed by a volunteer at the foundation and her niece.

And Ash City USA (asi/37127) launched a “We’re Thinking Pink” campaign to help fund research for the American Breast Cancer Foundation.

ASI reviewed some of the products available throughout the industry and devised a Top 10 “think pink” list of sports-themed products that can be used for breast cancer awareness promotions and fundraising drives:

  • Pink foam hockey pucks, from Foamworx (asi/54886). Hockey clubs from pros to minors to colleges and high schools can give out pink foam hockey pucks with information on breast cancer awareness.
  • Pink mini replica baseball bat, from Hillerach-Bradsby Co. (asi/60835). Bats can be sold at games or online. Neat fundraising product for baseball teams to raise money and call attention to the cause.
  • Pink aluminum sports bottle, from Direct Link Promos Inc. (asi/49813). A PBA-free water bottle is perfect for 5k fundraising runs and walks.
  • Pink boxing gloves, from Online Fitness (asi/75093). Boxing promoters can use these gloves in a promotion to “punch out” a cure for breast cancer.
  • Pink polo shirt, from Perry Ellis Int’l (asi/77715). Real men wear pink. Polo shirts are ideal gifts for October golf tournaments.
  • Pink tie, from Wolfmark (asi/98085). Corporations big and small can provide pink ties to male employees to wear every Tuesday during October.
  • Golf balls with pink ribbon, from Norwood Tee Off (asi/90740). A great tee gift giveaway at golf tournaments.
  • Pink mini football, from Diamond Imprint (asi/49641). Pro, college, high school and club teams can raise awareness by either selling logoed footballs or by tossing them in to the crowd during halftime.
  • Sports car shaped stress reliever, from Jetline (asi/63344). Ties into men’s love for their cars, and racing.
  • Auto racing kit, from Ready 4 Kits (asi/80882). Includes sunscreen, pain reliever, antacid, wet naps and earplugs, all in a pink pouch. Hospitals, doctors and breast cancer awareness activists can hand the pouches out at race tracks during October races.

Let me know what charitable organizations you’re helping by posting a comment or emailing me here. I’m also on Twitter, LinkedIn and YouTube.


Log On, Tune In and Sell, Sell, Sell

Filed under: ASI Shows, Industry Initiatives, News About ASI

Our September Virtual Trade Show got off to a roaring start with 640 attendees logging on in the first hour alone. And they kept on coming. Each booth averaged 722 visitors and each distributor spent about 80 minutes enjoying the show.

There was a ton of networking, too. In five hours’ time, a whopping 5,000 one-to-one chats took place.

If you missed this week’s virtual event, you can access it now on-demand at www.asicentral.com/vts.

Who attended? A number of top exhibitors, including The Magnet Group (asi/68507), Tri-Mountain/Mountain Gear (asi/92125), Harry & David (asi/59710) and World Emblem (asi/98264).

Comments streamed in fast and furious:

  • So far so good …. Really enjoying my first virtual show.
  • I have been wanting to visit a trade show, but time has been limited. Thank you for hosting.
  • I like the fact that each booth has private chat – and I can come and go in my own time – from my desk – so I am not missing any sales.
  • Lots of great stuff. Great venue.
  • I was at the show since the beginning and found it very interesting and beneficial to me. Thanks again for this free trade show.
  • I hope you will continue the VTS. I learn so much each time I attend one.
  • It’s going well, very busy …. Great job … works amazing.

ASI’s virtual shows always feature top suppliers, virtual show booths, multimedia demos, digital catalogs, online sample requests, a complete passport program and thousands of dollars in prizes. We know the all-day, online events are effective because exhibiting suppliers experience an average 24% increase in ESP searches the day after each show.

Virtual events certainly won’t replace our bricks-and-mortar ASI Shows (Orlando is January 23-25) but in these busy times, they’re an added value. The next ASI Virtual Trade Show is Wednesday, January 5 from 10 a.m. -3 p.m. ET, so mark your calendar.

If you “attended,” let me know what you thought by posting a comment or emailing me here. I’m also on Twitter, LinkedIn and YouTube.


Education Is the Key to Success

Filed under: Education, Industry Initiatives, Member Benefits, News About ASI

We just took a giant step toward boosting the professionalism level of every member of our industry. Starting now, distributors, suppliers and decorators can work toward the industry equivalent of a bachelor’s and master’s through a brand-new education initiative: the Advertising Specialty Institute Certification Program.

The program is free, all-encompassing and user-friendly. And the virtual component means anyone can take part – from anywhere and at any time. What better way to impress new and existing clients than with proof of your industry knowledge?

The demand is clear. In 2010 alone, 4,600 distributors took more than 16,000 live education courses at our trade shows, making ASI the largest educator in the $16 billion ad specialty industry. And no matter where I am, I hear from members who have a burning desire for more.

 This latest initiative is all part of our ongoing commitment to educating our members. ASI already invests about $1.3 million a year on education, and this new program is expected to cost another $100,000. What’s incalculable is the value of the skills needed to out-think, out-perform and out-service the competition.   

Tuesday afternoon, I held a heads-up conference call with members of my inner circle and almost immediately started receiving emails from people excited about the certification, which we formally announced during a special ASI Internet Radio show this morning and during today’s Virtual Trade Show, from 10 a.m.-3 p.m. ET.

For answers to just about any question and even more info, click here.

Here’s how the Advertising Specialty Institute Certification Program works:

BASI (Bachelor of Advertising Specialty Information)

  • BASI certification courses serve as a solid foundation for all ASI distributors, suppliers and decorators. The BASI curriculum will arm them with the fundamental knowledge they need to thoroughly understand and navigate the promotional products marketplace profitably, and develop solid relationships with their colleagues that will help them prosper in the industry.

MASI (Master of Advertising Specialty Information)

  • MASI certification courses provide ASI distributors, suppliers and decorators with advanced knowledge of the advertising specialty industry. MASI holders are recognized as the true industry experts who’ve cultivated profitable and collaborative relationships with distributors and suppliers. This designation is a testament to their contributions to the advertising specialty industry.

Both live and online ASI Education courses qualify for credit. Candidates must complete certification within three years of beginning the program. Following defined guidelines, courses taken at a past ASI Show, on the ASI Education Online Learning Center, or completed at major industry events, such as the PPAI Expo or regional association conferences, will be eligible for transfer.

There’s more. ASI members who earn BASI and MASI certifications will also qualify for numerous perks, like invitations to exclusive cocktail receptions at ASI Shows, VIP access to select events, advance copies of ASI surveys and research, and conference calls with me.

In addition, you’ll get a certificate ready for framing and authorization to add BASI or MASI to your title, website, business cards and the like. 

You can start the certification process right now.

Go to www.asicentral.com/education for a complete overview of ASI Education. ASI members can take advantage of a full slate of online offerings, including webinars, video packages and ASI Radio programs on the ASI Education Online Learning Center (www.asicentral.com/education).

We’re also offering educational sessions at the ASI Power Summit, taking place November 7-9 in Florida, in addition to live courses offered at all ASI Shows in 2011.

Please get in touch if you have any questions or need more info, and let me know what you think of the program by posting a comment or emailing me here. I’m also on Twitter, LinkedIn and YouTube.


The Tailgater’s Checklist: Games, Gear and More

Filed under: Using Ad Specialties

No matter who you bet on during the NFL season opener, one clear winner emerges week after week: the billions being made on merchandising.

Forbes estimates the Steelers alone are worth $1.01 billion, taking into account everything from TV, advertising and tickets to sponsorship and jerseys. One emerging new market? According to a Huffington Post football blogger, women now make up about 50% of the league’s fan base, and women’s apparel is now the league’s fastest-growing business.

In the spirit of the season (and the marketing), ASI recently posted its first-ever Top 10 list of ultimate tailgating games and gear. I never knew asphalt games like cornhole and sholf existed, never mind that they’re a big part of the pre-game tailgating experience.

You can even order frozen, mail-order steaks to grill next time you hit the stadium. Take that, weenie roasts!

There’s an entire science to tailgating and an actual Tailgating Institute, which says a typical tailgater is a college-educated male between 35-44 who hosts and/or attends six to 10 tailgate parties a season, spending over $500 on tailgating food and participating in a variety of interactive games with fellow tailgaters.

Need some ideas? Here’s our list of Top 10 list of ultimate tailgating games and gear:

  • Cornhole. Liven up any corporate event or party with this spirited beanbag toss game. From American Cornhole (asi/35456).
  • Can Handy. Imprint your company logo on this can holder and then slap the magnetized cooler on the side of a car, truck, van, etc. for easy access. From Novelty Premium (asi/74408).
  • Steak A Claim. Class up any barbecue with quality steaks delivered frozen and available in a variety of cuts. From Entrees To Excellence (asi/52507).
  • Plateful Of Fun. No more juggling, thanks to this handy food-and-drink combo plate. From Pioneer Plastics (asi/76770).
  • Cool Man. Cooler comes with stand, making it easy for attendees to grab an ice-cold beverage. From The Coleman Co. Inc. (asi/45647).
  • Ladder Toss. The next generation of tailgating games requires players to hurl golf balls tethered to string at a ladder 20 feet away. From Star Line (asi/89320).
  • Rest & Relaxation. The ultimate folding chair for any sporting event or corporate pre-game bash. From Picnic Time Inc. (asi/78065).
  • Hot Cooker. Mini Weber grill is perfect as a sweepstakes prize or valuable giveaway. From M2 Enterprises Inc. (asi/68316).
  • Sports Cooler. Can cooler comes in a variety of sport-themed designs. A golf ball-inspired cooler is just the thing for a golf-themed event. From Ball Pro Inc. (asi/38120).
  • Sholf Green. Bring the golf course to the tailgate. Each green is made with a thick, hand-bound turf to simulate an actual putting green. From AJJ Enterprises (asi/30226).

 To see a Joe Show featuring many of these items, click here. For a complete list, photos and ordering info, click here.

 Let me know what’s a winner in your book by posting a comment or emailing me here. I’m also on Twitter, LinkedIn and YouTube.


Only Creative Corporate Cultures Need Apply

Filed under: Community, Industry Initiatives, News About ASI

Anyone who’s ever placed a “help wanted” ad knows how much is involved in finding, training and retaining quality employees – even in a tough economy. Making sure those employees enjoy coming to work every day, through good times and bad, takes real effort.

This month, 75 companies that routinely go that extra mile landed on Counselor’s 2010 list of “Best Places to Work.”

Every ad specialty company on the list provides typical health-care and financial benefits. But some turn into regular Picassos when it comes to devising creative incentive programs, like offering employees $1,000 for buying an eco-friendly car. Other companies on the list – perhaps thinking of the old adage about the stomach being the true path to the heart – court employees with tasty bennies like wine tastings and family barbecues.

Dacasso (asi/48125), a Gainesville, FL-based supplier that landed in the number-one spot, gives off such a good vibe that even computer repairmen who visit the office leave thinking, “This is a great place to work!” Dacasso sets itself apart with everything from all-company murder mysteries to a tax-advantaged profit-sharing plan that allows employees to become fully vested at three months.

To read our press release about the “Best Places to Work” list, click here. To read the cover story, which was written by Counselor Editor Andy Cohen and Staff Writer Dave Vagnoni and includes a very cool interactive map, click here.

Here at ASI, we’ve received the Philadelphia Business Journal’s “Best Place to Work” award two years in a row. And we’ve been nominated by the Wall Street Journal for a “Top Small Workplaces” award. 

Employees tell us our annual employee recognition ceremony, on-site day care, ice cream socials and fiercely competitive Field Day helps set us apart. I’m proud to say our turnover is historically low. If you’d like to check out our career site, click here. We’re hiring!

Let me know what creative benefits or programs your company offers by posting a comment or emailing me here. I’m also on Twitter, LinkedIn and YouTube.


Celeb Marketers=Sales

Filed under: Education, News About ASI, Using Ad Specialties

As ASI’s Successful Promotions reports in this month’s issue, when it comes to marketing, sex still sells. And if you’ve got a sexy celebrity hawking your goods, look out: You just might make international news.

In addition to a list of the 10 sexiest celebrity marketers, Successful Promotions details five successful marketing campaigns that incorporated sexy themes. The scintillating promotional products featured include Sexy Water and the “candom,” a can cooler shaped like an oversized condom.

To read the Successful Promotions “Sex (Still) Sells” issue, click here.

The reports were written by ASI Staff Writers Jennifer Vishnevsky and Daniel Walsh, who interviewed a slate of marketing experts about celebrity appeal and the role of sex in advertising. The key is to match the right celebrity to your brand – and integrate them in the campaign beyond just paying for them to show up for an event or a photo shoot.

While there’s no guarantee that star power will translate directly into super sales, a successful sexy campaign can have a huge impact on the bottom line. As Walsh reports, Calvin Klein’s sales increased by 275% after the clothing company ran ads in 1980 featuring a young Brooke Shields saying, “You want to know what comes between me and my Calvins? Nothing.”

Here’s our list of the Top 10 Sexiest Celebrity Marketers:

  • Jennifer Aniston. The former Friends star is promoting her new scent, Lolavie, and appearing in Smart Water campaigns.
  • Patrick Dempsey. “Dr. McDreamy” is the spokesman for Versace and appears in ads for Serengeti eyewear and Unscripted, a line of colognes for Avon.
  • Mike “The Situation” Sorrentino. The ab-fabulous Jersey Shore star charges $7,500 and up for an event appearance sure to attract the paparazzi.
  • Lady Gaga. The Twitterific pop sensation is now creative director of Polaroid, and has lent her name and image to Virgin Mobile, Monster Cable and Viva Glam by MAC Cosmetics.
  • Cristiano Ronaldo. The Portuguese soccer stud is the official worldwide spokesmodel for Emporio Armani underwear and Armani Jeans.
  • Megan Fox: The star of the blockbuster Transformers is the face of luxury brand Armani.
  • Isaiah Mustafa: Portrayed as “The Man Your Man Could Smell Like,” the former NFL player helped Old Spice cologne become the number-one all-time most-viewed sponsored channel on YouTube.
  • Sandra Bullock: The Oscar winner is the face of Artistry Crème LuXury, an Amway company that hopes its connection to the A-lister will elevate its brand status.
  • Scarlett Johansson: The starlet evokes Marilyn Monroe in Dolce & Gabbana perfume and makeup ads, and is the new face of Moët & Chandon champagne.
  • Paris Hilton: The hotel heiress lent her mug to campaigns for Guess and restaurant chain Carl’s Jr. and reportedly gets up to $500,000 for appearances.

Successful Promotions  is read by more than 50,000 corporate marketers throughout North America who are looking for innovative techniques and products to promote their businesses. As an added-value service, more than 800 of ASI’s biggest distributors have a gift subscription for Successful Promotions sent to their biggest clients.

Let me know who you think is the hottest celebrity marketer by posting a comment or emailing me here. I’m also on Twitter, LinkedIn and YouTube.