Posted by: brandextenders | May 6, 2012

Is it an Etch-A-Sketch or a Promotional Product?

One of the hallmarks of an effective branding tool is it’s ability to evoke emotion. Studies have shown time and again that at the very core of most any purchase is an emotional response that people may not even realize is driving them to buy.

Brands work hard so customers make these emotional connections to their products. TV ads can create emotional connections through video, radio has long had the ability to touch people with words, sounds and music and promotional products also help connect a brand to its customers.

Promotional products are the perfect way to build or reinforce a tactile connection by adding a logo or tagline to an iconic product from people’s past; the emotional response can be instantaneous. Research has shown when times are particularly difficult, people tend to look back to their past for comfort and reassurance that all will be well.

One way to create this bond with customers and prospects is to include an iconic toy in your marketing mix that transports people back to simpler times. These iconic toys touch multiple demographics with their simplicity and will quickly bring a smile to the face of those who receive them:

  • Etch-A-SketchOriginally known by its French inventor as “the magic screen” it was introduced in 1960 and quickly became one of the favorite toys of the baby boom generation. With the ability to create, make mistakes and start over again this toy is similar to the trials and tribulations of life and how we all sometimes long to begin again, to shake our lives up so to speak. Use a branded Etch-A-Sketch be it a key chain, mini or regular size version to keep your logo in front of your customers for the long run.
  • Rubik’s Cube: Patented by Erno Rubik, a Hungarian sculptor and professor in 1974, this puzzle has sold close to 400 million cubes worldwide and is considered the world’s best selling toy. Will Smith as Chris Gardner in the movie “Pursuit of Happyness” learned to solve the Rubik’s puzzle and brought this toy new-found fame. In the promo world you can buy key-sized versions, mini and regular sized, stress Rubik’s cubes and cubes that are branded with a logo or completely customized. Despite the fact the majority of us can never solve this enigma; it’s a toy that keeps your brand literally in the hands of customers.
  • Magic 8 Ball: Created by a man whose mom was a clairvoyant and used a similar “spirit writing” device, this toy hit the market in 1950. Known originally as the Syco-Seer, this toy answers yes-no questions posed to it when a 20-sided die appears in a clear window with either a positive, negative or non-committal statement. Putting your logo on this timeless toy will touch several generations from the baby boomers to Gen C who know the Magic 8 ball from its appearance in Pixar’s movie “Toy Story.”
  • Viewmaster: Introduced at the 1939 New York World’s Fair as an alternative to postcards, the Viewmaster was originally designed as a tourism vehicle with the Grand Canyon and Carlsbad Caverns as the main subjects of their disks. Since then more than 1.5 billion viewers have been sold along with thousands of disk subjects. For brands, the Viewmaster is a unique way to highlight new products, corporate presentations, point-of-sale displays and marketing campaigns. The key is creative imagery because you’re guaranteed that handing someone a Viewmaster will result in their looking at the pictures. Intriguing content will generate buzz and elicit fond memories.
  • Silly Putty: Invented as a potential rubber substitute during World War II, it turned out to be a useless product. Samples were sent to scientists worldwide, but no practical use was ever found for the gooey, bouncy material. But someone saw potential as a toy and since 1950; 300 million Silly Putty eggs have been sold. Used by brands to tout their flexibility, draw people into a trade show booth or just for the heck of it, Silly Putty reminds us of fun and I can’t think of any brands that couldn’t use a little more of that.

 Randomly using an iconic toy in your promotional marketing campaign is all well and fine, but the best way to use something like this is to tie a strategy, theme or tagline to the product you choose so all your marketing efforts reflect the same message. As with any promotional product, it should always be part of an overall marketing campaign or the results will fall far short of what they could be.

O.K., time to get back to work. Let’s see, was I using the horizontal or vertical knob on my Etch-A-Sketch?

I work with my customers to evaluate their promotional marketing needs and develop creative and measurable solutions to solve those needs. I build long-term relationships my clients turn to for their brand extension, promotional product, incentive and other branding needs. Contact me at  

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