99 Problems: An ineffective promotion shouldn't be one
The City of Brotherly Love (yes, I’m talking about Philadelphia—PM’s headquarters) was the place to be over Labor Day weekend.
Bruce Springsteen played two shows at Citizen’s Bank Park. I hear his respective sets were nearly four hours long (a bit overkill if you ask me, but you didn’t, just interjecting here), peppered with everything from crowd favorites to the more obscure tracks.
Unfortunately for the “The Boss,” Jay-Z’s inaugural Budweiser Made in America festival stole all of the headlines (I even heard Ron Howard is turning it into a documentary). The main stage sat at the foot of the Philadelphia Museum of Art, you know—where Rocky famously trained. The two-day event boasted an eclectic lineup of artists from Janelle Monae and Passion Pit to D’Angelo and Run DMC to Pearl Jam and, of course, Jay-Z.
I haven’t read too much about the festival, but when I heard Pearl Jam served as the backing band for Jay-Z as he performed his classic “99 Problems,” I quickly turned to YouTube. Thank you, technology! It definitely was interesting to watch Pearl Jam lead singer Eddie Vedder’s curious facial expressions during the song. But, what I particularly noted was Jay-Z’s hat. He was rocking a Mets hat in Philly? That’s just not something you really do in a rival team’s stomping grounds, especially here. Granted, I’m sure Hova (i.e., Jay-Z) was well protected, but that was a bit of a fashion risk, and an extra burn to Phillies fans with the way this season has been playing out.
This led me to think about our industry and promotional mishaps. All too often we see ineffective campaigns that could’ve taken a different turn simply by asking a few questions. Take awareness campaigns, for instance. October marks National Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Soon enough, the color pink will be saturating awareness promotions everywhere. If you are handling such a campaign for a client, be sure to ask probing questions. What is the goal of this campaign? Who will be attending this event? Then, there are the more specific questions regarding quantity, turnaround times, etc. Perhaps, your client is holding an event with the giveaway being pink T-shirts imprinted with the company logo. Sounds good, right? But what if only women’s sizes are ordered? Seemingly harmless—unless attendees include female AND male nurses. The shirts are spreading awareness, but half of the attendees are excluded from the promotion. These are things to consider.
Even though they can be fun to sell, edible promotions are another type of campaign that require distributors to proceed with caution. Debbie Tubbs, director of operations for Fresh Beginnings, noted that one of the most common mistakes in selling a food gift is not knowing enough about how the gifts will be distributed. “Food is not a product you can simply sell and deliver,” she cautioned. “Our goal is always to work with the distributor to ensure that the product is delivered close to the date it will be handed out. Our cookies contain no preservatives, and have a recommended two-week shelf life.” Fact: No one likes stale cookies.
Distributors also should consider food allergies or they could be eliminating a significant portion of attendees as seen above in the awareness example. Generally, most people with a known food allergy are particularly cautious about reading labels, and are not necessarily offended to receive this type of gift, according to Tubbs. However, it doesn’t hurt to ask your supplier partner about proper labeling. To learn more about chocolate and edible promotions, check out the upcoming September issue of Promo Marketing. In the meantime, start jotting down some questions. If you have any recommendations for novice distributors, or if you would like to share a story of your own, please feel free to leave a comment in the section below.
(Editor’s Note: Nut allergies are a serious problem. I learned more about it over the weekend when I went to see comedian Louis CK’s stand-up routine, which was hilarious.)