It’s Your Move
THEY MAKE FUN gifts, bring smiles to people’s faces and might even cause folks to break out in laughter. Games and toys are among a unique class of products
in the promotional arena that oftentimes bring great joy to those putting them to use—an effective marketing ploy in itself. But, when distributors find a way to perfectly match games and toys with clients’ images and messages, the joy is spread all around, creating a winning situation for the whole team.
That’s exactly the tactic Aerobie, Palo Alto, Calif., employs with its line of high-performance flying discs, rings and boomerangs. National Sales Manager Don Abbott said Aerobie typically aligns with companies that promote high performance, reliability and anything related to aerodynamics.
“It just makes sense for us to work with companies that in some way parallel what our products are about,” said Abbott. “For instance, when Boeing introduced its 787 Dreamliner Jet, it distributed one of our flying discs to all of those involved in the aircraft’s launch. It was a perfect fit because Boeing looked at us as a partner in the field of flying.”
He recommends distributors be thoughtful when pitching ad specialty ideas to their clients and believes that while all games and toys are fun items to give away, their significance is greatly increased when a link exists between the toy and the message.
“Just because we supply flying objects doesn’t mean our discs can only be used for aircraft-related clients,” he added. “We foster an image of high performance, which is an image many businesses want to project.”
Citing a different example, Abbott spoke about a campaign used by Volkswagon some years ago. He said the popular car company included one of Aerobie’s flying discs in its press kit, because the company “wanted to imbue this message of high performance in its literature.”
For distributors interested in pitching such items, it helps to know that Aerobie set a record in the “Guinness Book of World Records” with its flying ring, which soared 1,333 feet, more than a quarter mile. The company received even more attention recently when its Superdisc was used by Chris and Trish Perondi and their team of extreme canine stunt dogs, who appeared on “The Ellen Degeneres Show.”
“In the end, it’s all about the fun,” said Abbott. “When clients hand out toys with their logos on them, they can rest assured that their message will be carried around for months or years.”
Peter Herz, CEO of Jornik Manufacturing, Stamford, Conn., agreed. He said games and toys stick around and are associated with good feelings.
“Everyone loves to play,” he said. “It’s an automatic stress reliever as well as a great ice breaker, either in social situations or at sales meetings.”
Speaking of social situations, how about creating a jump rope in the yummy colors of food, making it okay for end-users (and their friends) to play with their food? That’s exactly what Zenith Promotions, Lawrence, N.Y., did with its Woven Rainbow Rope.
“We’ve had a lot of success with our jump rope given the big emphasis on physical fitness for children,” explained Maria LaFichi, executive vice president. “This item is not too common in the industry and we offer it at a very good price point.”
Essentially, toys are not only useful for fun and games. The items can, in fact, be used as incentives for budding scholars and for not-so-celebratory occasions. “Our items are used as rewards for children in Florida after taking statewide tests,” said LaFichi. She also admitted a police department uses her company’s chalk for the grim work often done at crime scenes.
“A lot of distributors don’t delve into these markets because they don’t think it’s very lucrative,” added LaFichi. She pointed out that hospitals, trade shows, banks and museums are largely untapped gold mines for games and toys. “You’d be surprised how many banks have children’s savings programs,” she said. “Museums are a market you won’t think would be interested in these items, but if you look at the gift shops, you will find a lot of games and toys being sold there.”
Jornik offers games such as Sudoku, Dartman and Pong Shooter—pastimes that stimulate the brain, increase coordination and lend themselves well to the promotional world.
Herz explained that Jornik’s Sudoku is packaged in a matchbook-type cover and includes nine different games with varying stages of difficulty. The packaging allows the game to be given away in various venues, such as trade shows, restaurants and hotels. “What’s great about using Sudoku is that advertisers can make the game interactive by posting Sudoku solutions on their Web sites,” said Herz.
While the toys and games category generally would offer items at lower price points than other promotional product categories, LaFichi emphasized that quality should never be sacrificed for cost. “Money is so precious that you really want to get good value,” she said. “We’re talking about inexpensive toys here, but still, you don’t want it to fall apart in the child’s hands. That would make all of us look bad. Especially the person whose brand is on the [toy].”
For clients looking for something to increase motivation at sales meetings, Herz recommended something along the lines of its Pong Shooter—a colorful gun-style ping pong ball shooter that inspires folks to hit their targets.
“Another hugely popular item game distributors find success with is the Dartman, which is a three-legged dart with a specially formulated sticky point, or in this case ‘head,’ that participants can throw at their computer screens, walls or windows,” he said. “We sell a dartboard to go along with the Dartman, which is a great trade show item and has won awards for attracting the most attention at a booth. We’ve actually had people line up at booths to use Dartman.”
The most challenging thing about this fun-filled category, noted LaFichi, is just that—keeping the items fun. “We have to find something new every year,” she said. “When people come to the booth and ask, ‘What’s new,’ it becomes more and more challenging each year. But, we always try to come up with fresh ideas.”
Though Herz believes games and toys fare best by being cleverly matched with company messages, he said he doesn’t feel this limits the types of companies that can promote through toys, or the ways in which they can use them. “The ideas are endless, the connections that can be made between games and toys are limitless and when distributors enjoy pitching toys and games, the happiness becomes infectious. Getting people to smile and have a good time is always a plus, and nothing does that better than a toy or game,” he concluded.