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Page-Turning, Award-Winning Reporting

Filed under: News About ASI

Dave Vagnoni is used to tackling challenging assignments in the course of reporting stories for Counselor magazine. But he went above and beyond the call of duty during his trip to China for his 2011 feature package, “Beyond the Great Wall” – including getting detained at the border by authorities.

His efforts paid off recently when the feature article, blogs and video package were nominated for a Jesse H. Neal National Business Journalism Award from American Business Media. The prestigious Neal awards are considered the Pulitzer Prize of business journalism.

If you missed it, click here to read Dave’s article and blog posts and to watch his videos.

Although Dave was the only writer to actually travel to China, it took a team of editorial designers and editors to put the entire package together. My congratulations extend to each of them.

More than 90% of the ad specialty industry’s products today are manufactured in China, and suppliers don’t think that will change anytime soon. At the same time, unprecedented changes in China are having a significant impact on the ad specialty industry in North America.

With so much at stake, Dave traveled to the other side of the world for an in-depth look at a nation and a people in unavoidable transition. His reports detailed all of the issues and included extensive interviews with many key industry players.

ASI’s editorial department has a long history of producing distinct, award-winning stories on issues critical to this industry. For that effort in 2011 alone, ASI’s magazines won a record 26 awards, including a Neal Award for Supplier Global Resource Editor Michele Bell, who was honored for her story, “Asia’s Seismic Shift,” detailing how labor unrest and other issues in China affect suppliers in the promotional products industry.

You can look forward to more great stories in the pages of ASI’s magazines, which are also available online, in coming months.

Let me know what story you read recently that served you the most by posting a comment or e-mailing me here. I’m also on Twitter, LinkedIn and YouTube.


Red Letter Day for Charity

Filed under: News About ASI, Using Ad Specialties

Every year, ASI’s administrative staff puts together a wonderful silent auction to raise money for the American Red Cross using sample promotional products sent by suppliers and featured in ASI magazines.

Last year, ASI employees raised $1,762. But this month, they raised a record-breaking $3,000 – a total ASI Chairman of the Board Norman Cohn is matching through the United Way, for a grand total of $6,000 to be donated to our local Red Cross chapter.

The Red Cross, our nation’s premier emergency response organization and biggest blood bank, also offers neutral humanitarian care to the victims of war and compassionate services that help the needy and provide support and comfort for military members and their families.

Such services are dear to everyone’s heart at ASI. Since 2003, company fundraisers have raised nearly $2 million in cash and goods for worthy causes, including the Adopt-A-Family program, and food banks and homeless shelters in or around company headquarters in Bucks County, PA.

At this year’s auction, employees had an amazing array of products to choose from, including an Oakley “Kitchen Sink” backpack, a wooden chess set, bottle of wine and a cheese board.

The biggest hit of the two-day auction: grab bags full of miscellaneous samples that sold for $3 each, for a total of 140 sold, raising $420.

It just goes to show you – everyone likes cool products and hot bargains!

What charities does your company regularly contribute to, and how creative have you gotten in devising fundraisers? Let me know by posting a comment or e-mailing me here. I’m also on Twitter, LinkedIn and YouTube.


Vote for Promo Products

Filed under: ASI Shows, Industry Initiatives, Using Ad Specialties

There’s no end to the creativity – and money – to be found in election-related ad specialties. As of this week, the Obama campaign reported already stocking nearly $800,000 in merchandise and apparel in its Chicago election store.

Some election products, like dog T-shirts, iPhone cases, basketball jerseys, can koozies, cufflinks, martini glasses, jewelry and tote bags, are for sale, while more standard fare like bumper stickers, buttons, signs and T-shirts will be given away free to promote the president.

Click here to read a story on Obama products and what promises to be a hot topic in our industry from now through November – and especially after the Republicans finally choose their nominee. ASI’s executive director of research, Larry Basinait, estimates $350 million will be spent on federal election-related promo products alone in 2012. That’s big business by any measure.

In case you want to stock up, Obama’s official online campaign store is advertising “merchandise madness” and “daily deals” on items like “I Shamrock Obama” T-shirts and “I Bark for Barack” Bo car magnets.

Featured items in the official GOP store include “I Really Miss Reagan” buttons and the GOP apron and spatula set.

How many election-related products have you seen so far this year on trade show floors? How many of you are already selling election-related goods? Let me know by posting a comment or e-mailing me here. I’m also on Twitter, LinkedIn and YouTube.

I’ll let you know what I spot on the show floors at ASI San Diego, taking place April 2, 3 and 4, followed by ASI New York, May 8-10, and ASI Chicago July 17-19. Click here for more info and to register.


Go Big Green

Filed under: News About ASI, Using Ad Specialties

With spring officially here and Earth Day less than a month away, it’s the perfect time to think green. ASI has already sold over 60,000 copies of its eco-friendly Green Catalog, but there’s still time to order yours.

The go-to guide for environmentally friendly products with a circulation of 125,000 features  a ton of “didja know?” tips for being green and ways to promote eco-friendly products as a responsible alternative, along with case studies on such subjects as selling organic apparel and using technology to cut waste.

The eco-friendly items range from bamboo iPhone cases, eco-friendly “sprout” watches and Bulova watches with mercury-free batteries to recyclable can coolers, biodegradable wine glass tags, bio pens and all-natural dog products.

These are the kinds of products perfect to pitch to environmentally conscious clients at resorts, corporate events, schools, conferences and fundraisers. So arm yourself with a few facts and a copy of the Green Catalog before heading off to sales calls – in your Prius, of course (50 mpg!).

Products are grouped by easy-to-navigate categories, including bags and briefcases, clocks and watches, clothing, executive gifts, food and drink, health and beauty, incentives and recognition, office and computer accessories, outdoors, pet accessories, sports, writing instruments and travel.

The Green Catalog features:

  • 120+ products from 30+ suppliers, in all price ranges
  • Free shipping (expires April 22)
  • Free full-color imprinting
  • Free digital version with a print purchase

As always, the front of each copy can be imprinted in full color with the distributor’s logo and contact information, and ASI offers this feature at any time throughout the year.

For more info, contact Dan Brown, executive director of distributor services, at dbrown@asicentral.com or at 800-546-1392. To order the Green Catalog online and to see sample pages, click here.

Let me know what your best-selling green products are this year by posting a comment or e-mailing me here. I’m also on Twitter, LinkedIn and YouTube.


ASI Offers 12 Tips For Success

Filed under: News About ASI, Using Ad Specialties

Tips are great things to get … and not just for food servers, for everyone. When I started at ASI over five months ago, I couldn’t wait to receive some quick tips about the company and the industry to help me hit the ground running. Whether those tips came from coworkers, ASI Central or in marketing collateral, I was all eyes and ears.

I simply love tips. Why? Because they’re short and to the point. We’re all so busy in our lives and stuck in our routines that sometimes we don’t see simple things that could go a long way in helping us succeed – both personally and professionally. When I asked ASI blog owner, President and Chief Executive Officer Tim Andrews why he likes tips, he replied:

“ASI is dedicated to making distributors as profitable as possible, and one easy way to accomplish this is to follow our surefire blueprint: ASI’s 12 Tips for Success. Each of these tips can be quickly applied to any company to help them make more sales, communicate better with customers and grow their business.”

So today I’d like to share these tips with you, created recently by our talented marketing team. They were written specifically for ASI members, but can be used by anyone looking to advance professionally. Clear, quick, accurate advice for organizing, updating and improving any size business is included … no tip required.

To download ASI’s 12 Tips for Success, click here. Click here to view the distributor version. Click here for the supplier version.

– Fal Dieso is ASI’s director of brand marketing.


Score With March Madness Promos

Filed under: Using Ad Specialties

The best part of March Madness comes from cheering on the underdogs. Here in Pennsylvania, we had high hopes for Lehigh. But no matter who scores the most, in the end, the great game of basketball wins out.

As always, this industry jumped on the trend with a number of b-ball promo products tailor-made for watching, cheering – and betting. Any company, bar, restaurant, sports team or booster club promotion or brand campaign can score with products that tie into a basketball tournament watched by an average of 9 million viewers per game.

The NCAA March Madness tournaments continue through April 2. Millions fill out a bracket predicting winners from 68 teams. Did you?

To get in the game, ASI came up with a short list of March Madness products, complete with a “Joe Show” video with all the right moves.

ASI’s 2012 March Madness Hot List:

  • Video-playing basketball, from CleggPromo, asi/45450. Users upload any video they want, making this a perfect prize for companies to reward top performers in the office pool.
  • Logoed spatula, from Sportula, asi/88882. Relive tournament highlights all summer long with a spatula that can be die-cut with a school’s logo. Great promotion for school teams, booster clubs or companies. Includes bottle opener on one end.
  • Device wraps, from Skinit, asi/87625. Organizations can run an ad campaign based on a school of choice, allowing fans to upload their own picture and wrap their favorite device – phones, laptops, digital cameras, video gaming units, etc. – with college mascots and logos.
  • Rubber ducks, from Jetline, asi/63344. Promote office pools with basketball-inspired rubber ducks. The tournament can get anyone in the b-ball spirit, and companies can also sponsor a local basketball club and give players collapsible water bottles.
  • Basketball net skull cap, from Bodek and Rhodes, asi/40788. Tie into the tournament with pop-a-shot contests between games and give winners fun items like a funky cap.
  • Basketball jersey, from A4/Moshay, asi/30121. Any company can get involved in the community (and advertise its brand) by hosting three-ball competitions and giving away adult-sized moisture-wicking jerseys to organizers and winning teams.
  • Stress reliever, from Impressline, asi/62479. Sports can be frustrating enough, but imagine playing with a square ball. Luckily, this stress reliever is perfect for squeezing during down-to-the-wire games.
  • Mini backboard and ball set, from MAC Specialties, asi/68207. During the tournament, any business can send reps armed with great giveaways like this one for clients to encourage them to join an office pool.
  • Ice pack, from Alpi International, asi/34415. When your final four teams are knocked out early, it can feed a serious headache. Display a company logo on an item providing frozen or hot relief.
  • Can holder, from Prime Line, asi/79530. Promote bars and restaurants with a can holder to get people in the door – and to a nice cold beer.
  • Basketball helmet, from Spirit Industries, asi/88740. Beverage companies can use as an on-pack promotion for cheering college kids or reward employees during a company appreciation event.

Let me know your final four picks by posting a comment or e-mailing me here. I’m also on Twitter, LinkedIn and YouTube.


Bow Wow Wow

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

I think the world can be divided into Dog People and Cat People. Which one are you? Although I have nothing against cats, I think I fall into the “dog” camp. Either way, you should check out a recent hot list we sent out to press highlighting some of the industry’s top pet gifts.

Statistically, an astonishing 62% of U.S. households now care for at least one pet, paying for everything from veterinary care and food to grooming, toys and treats. This month, ASI’s Advantages magazine offered a great business primer on the booming pet market. So if you haven’t yet added pet stores, vets, kennels, pet insurance companies, dog groomers and municipal dog parks to your roster of potential clients, now’s a great time to start.

To me, a dog dish with a funny picture on it is fancy. So I was genuinely amazed at how creative some of these gifts are. Did you know, for instance, that you can now bake your own dog biscuits? Just don’t mix them up with the cookies you baked for your child’s school!

Things like premium treats, natural food and fashion-forward accessories helped push U.S. pet industry sales to $58 billion in 2011, with sales expected to reach $74 billion in 2015, according to research firm Packaged Facts.

For more info, click here for a “Joe Show” product video and click here for photos. Click here for the Advantages story on the burgeoning pet market. Below are some of the products we selected for this year’s pet gift list:

  • Dog hoodie, from American Apparel (asi/35297). Zip-up fleece includes a pouch pocket for treats and a notch to attach leash to collar. Great advertising for dog walkers.
  • Zippered water bowl, collapsible water bowl and waste bags, from Handy Products Line (asi/78206). Portable bowls include a clip for hanging from a leash, backpack or belt loop, and funky trash bag container keeps bags handy.
  • Dog biscuit mix, from Ingredients Corp. of America (asi/62649). Owners can bake cookies – and their own dog biscuits. Rewarding gift from groomers and pet stores.
  • Leash, collar and ball toy, from Promopet (asi/79698). Kennel clubs and boarding kennels can advertise via heavy-duty leash, collar and logoed tennis ball.
  • Wrapped biscuits, from A La Carte (asi/30350). USA-made individually wrapped treat includes all-natural ingredients, perfect as booth giveaway during pet-related trade show.
  • Pet first-aid kit, from Ready 4 Kits (asi/80882). Includes essentials like tweezers for plucking ticks and thorns, antiseptic wipes and rubber gloves. Great thank-you gifts from vets and pet insurance companies.
  • Paw balm and training treats, from Solar Advertising (asi/88148). Balm soothes and heals, making it a handy client gift or for municipal dog parks. Treats come in recycled, biodegradable tube.

Let me know the greatest gift your pooch ever got by posting a comment or e-mailing me here. I’m also on Twitter, LinkedIn and YouTube.


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