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Popularity Contest

Winning the hearts and minds of political clients by making the best of election-friendly products

January 2012 By Michael Cornnell
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Interested in improving your sales to political campaigns? Then read on for some quick pointers on making the absolute most of some of the most popular election items.

Quality Control
: To get the most mileage from your yard signs, look for weatherproof materials such as corrugated plastic that will easily survive a long period of outdoor exposure. Use simple, clear copy without time-sensitive words such as "elect" or "re-elect," because such terms could make the signs useless for a second election cycle, therefore forcing your client to spend on a whole new batch of signs. "Go with the name, what you're running for, and that's basically all you need," said Rick Nielsen, CAS, director of sales and marketing for Pilgrim Plastics, Brockton, Mass.

Artwork Advice: Carl Gerlach, director of marketing, Gill Studios Inc., Lenexa, Kan., cautioned against too-thin signs, since if you go with a double-sided imprint bright sunlight can cause a bleed-through effect, the resulting overlap confusing your design with its inverse on the other side. He cited 3⁄16" as a good thickness to prevent such overlap issues.

Quality Control: Make sure your balloons are thick and made from a durable enough material. "Balloon quality directly affects the flying/float time with helium," said Mark Jenkins, MAS, sales director for Pioneer Balloon Company, Wichita, Kan. He added that a high-quality balloon is typically richer in color and photographs better than those of lesser quality, along with the obvious benefit of being less-likely to pop.

Artwork Advice: "Typically political logos are very simplistic in design and wording, which lends itself perfectly to a balloon imprint," said Jenkins. He suggested designs that can convey a message from 5-to-20 feet away, and to keep larger balloons in mind in the event of photographic or video press coverage.

Quality Control: It may seem simple, but offering stickers in different or less conventional sizes can go a long way to earning you the sale in the political world. Gerlach explained this is because candidates with longer surnames may need more space on a sticker than someone like a "Jones" or "Smith."

Artwork Advice: Gerlach recommended keeping the design simple and using easily recognized political iconography. "Red, white and blue reflect 90 percent of the political orders that come through and represent a palette that is instantly recognizable as political," he said. "Contrast, with the use of reversed panels, is an easy way to grab attention of the audience."

Quality Control: For high-quality buttons, look for two-piece celluloid or metal litho (be aware however, that some metal litho buttons can have a slightly dulled white depending on the metal used for the button base). At very high volumes (think tens of thousands) metal litho buttons become more affordable and faster to print than their celluloid peers, due to the high level of machination in the metal litho's printing process.

Artwork Advice: "The simpler the better for sure," said Dino Bartolomei, MAS, vice president and owner of Adco Litho Line, Broadview, Ill. "You look at any good logo, you know like the Shell Logo or, you know, BP, you know it's always one or two, or at the most three colors, you really want your viewer to look at it and identify with it," he said. Besides limiting your colors, Bartolomei also suggested sparse, clear and large copy, as well as checking your button's effectiveness at it's appropriate size, rather than a high magnification like 500 percent that may be used in the design phase. "I tell everybody, view it at 100 percent, print it out at 100 percent, and look at it in front of you," he said. "Put it against your chest and have somebody look at, and say, 'can they read it effectively?'"



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