Golf Balls, Fast Food and Promotions Gone Wild: Our Favorite Posts of 2017
It's been a wild ride, but 2017 is somehow already drawing to a close. Maybe it's the whole "time flies when you're having fun" thing—or maybe we've ventured too close to a black hole, distorting the very fabric of time and space—but boy, that went fast, eh?
Anyway, as we move toward the year's final week and the culmination of the holiday season, we thought it'd be fun to look back at the posts we published in 2017 and highlight some of the more fun, thought-provoking or otherwise interesting articles you may have missed in your (hopefully) busy year. It also gives us a convenient excuse to revisit some of our personal favorites.
Here, in no particular order, are our picks. Let us know if we missed anything you liked. We hope you had as much fun in the promotional products industry as we did covering it this year. We'll see you in 2018!
Costco's Nasty Legal Battle Over Popular Golf Ball Could Filter Down to Promo Industry
I love playing golf, but I don't love paying a lot of money for things. (Sue me.) Full disclosure: I have never paid for a Pro V1 golf ball, but I've used them plenty. (Can you believe people just abandon perfectly good balls in water hazards?) Costco realized people's need for high quality golf gear, and understood their desires to save some money. After some golfers realized Costco's Kirkland golf balls were as good (if not better) than Titleist's, a legal battle ensued. This might've been a situation where Titleist poked the bear, as Costco is no stranger to lawsuits—or winning them.
Seriously, What's Up With These Fidget Spinners?
When I think of 2017, I think of Prince Harry and Megan Markle, Beyonce’s twins, millennial pink, the “La La Land” soundtrack (I still can’t get it out of my head) and, of course, fidget spinners. The new product transcended toy and became the must-have accessory for everyone from college students to high-level executives. At a time when I was still in the dark on the latest craze, Brendan Menapace dug deep to find out what exactly they were, where they came from, why people loved them and the potential problems with them. We continued to watch fidget spinners make headlines, and I think it’s safe to say they were a hot topic in the promo world and beyond.
We Ranked 14 NFL Teams by the Promo Items They Sent One 'Free Agent' Fan
Tom Higgins, our newest editor, took it upon himself to analyze and catalogue the results of one NFL fan's quest to find a new team to root for. The result was this exhaustive, 1,100-word ranking of every team's response, based on the promotional items they sent. It's a funny, tongue-in-cheek and, by golly, actually informative look at the way NFL teams succeeded or failed in using promos to woo a potential fan, punctuated by a standout and, as you'll see, extremely true-to-character No. 1 entry. If you need a laugh to get you through the holiday week ahead, start here. If you need some actual promotional inspiration, also start here.
That Whole McDonald's Sauce Promotion Got Way Out of Hand
This piece dug deep to provide a coherent report on perhaps one of the strangest social media phenomena of the past year. To recap, popular cartoon "Rick and Morty," in the first episode of its latest season, made reference to a promotional campaign done by McDonald’s in 1998 to accompany the release of Disney’s film "Mulan." For the promotion, McDonald’s released a specialty sauce, dubbed Szechuan Sauce, and the people did consume said sauce, and they did rejoice, and then said sauce ran out. And that was the end of that. Only, it wasn't, because it seems one "Rick and Morty" writer remembered how good that sauce was in 1998 and decided to make reference to it in the show in 2017. This led to a massive fan-led social media campaign for McDonald’s to bring back the sauce. While McDonald’s eventually gave the people what they wanted, stores ran out of the sauce too quickly due to a limited supply, leading to outrage both online and in stores. The fracas was real. Why did McDonald’s fail to make enough sauce to meet demand? Was it their plan all along to tease fans, thereby creating more demand and attention online? Will the sauce be back? These are the questions this article dives into. This is what we’ve come to as a society. Enjoy the ride.
Eli Manning at Center of Bogus Merchandise Scandal
2017 will go down as a rough year for Eli Manning, whose ineptitude cost him, for a game, the starting quarterback role for the New York Giants, the NFC East’s basement dweller with a 2-12 mark. Because of a lawsuit involving questionable memorabilia, 2018 could prove a tad more uncomfortable for the signal caller, who, aside from pondering where he will hang his helmet next season, also has a March 26 court appearance to consider.
How Long Was This Denver Broncos Blanket With the Wrong Skyline On It for Sale Before Anyone Noticed?
For fans of schadenfreude, or for those who pride themselves by their geographical trivia prowess, this is a great, lighthearted article. For those who dread these sorts of mistakes in promotional products, this is also a good lesson in why all products should be checked for accuracy, especially when they attempt to depict actual places. In this case, a Denver Broncos blanket for sale in the NFL Shop purportedly showed the Denver skyline. Except it actually showed the Salt Lake City skyline. Turns out, people pay attention to these sorts of things, and while the huge mountains in the background may have been convincing enough for some, one sleuth managed to recognize the skyline’s major giveaway: the Mormon Tabernacle. Of course, this level of scandal required some expert sleuthing on our part, taking us to the very depths of the NFL Shop’s online blanket market, and back again. Oh, and there’s something about zombie horse statues too. This is the story of a product gone wrong, reminding us that in the world of promotional marketing, anything and everything can happen.
KFC Is Really Going All-In on Branded Merchandise
What do the printing press, antibiotics and branded merchandise from Kentucky Fried Chicken have in common? They are all examples of absolute genius. Hyperbole aside, the products that the poultry provider is peddling through KFC Ltd. could make its envious industry competitors continue to cry “fowl” throughout 2018, especially since many have already proven great sellers.
Always Proofread: Here Is Each State's Most Misspelled Word
English has always been my best subject (go figure). Between my upbringing by an English teacher and my college degree in wordsmithing (OK, fine, it's communications), I can't help but notice misspellings often. So, when our own Joe Myers wrote this story about every state's most misspelled word, I enjoyed reading what every state needs to check their dictionary for. (Seriously, come on Wisconsin, you can't even spell your own state's name?) I'll give Delaware and Indiana a pass on "Hallelujah," but Rhode Island should be able to spell "liar" and Wisconsin should be able to spell … well … Wisconsin.
The 12 Weirdest Trump Inauguration Day Promotions
We took some heat for the headline (sure, T-shirts and pint glasses aren't exactly "weird," but we're in the online publishing business here) and the generally comedic tone, but this roundup of President Trump's inauguration products was a hit with readers overall. It gave us a snapshot of the vast and diverse collection of promotional products brought to us by the internet's cottage industry of opportunistic collectibles-hawkers. And, more importantly, it illustrated the bigger point (one we've covered in-depth) that political campaigns are huge business for promotional products professionals. It's always worth keeping an eye on what others are doing in the space. And, let's be real, the giant slice of wood was pretty weird.
‘My Favorite Color Is Hitler’? Tote Decoration Reminds Us to Choose Fonts Carefully
In the world of promotions, we tend to see a lot of unfortunate typos make headlines. But this tote bag was a first. It wasn’t a typo that was the problem, it was the font. As a result, a word as innocent as “glitter” transformed into its polar opposite: “Hitler.” Thankfully, Joe Myers ran with this story, and uncovered what we can learn from a mistake like this, namely: Proof your fonts, not just your spelling.