An effective promotion without using promotional products?

Michael Merrick Crooks from the USA, comes one more time to please us with an article inspired by his experience as an (old) promotional marketer…

Doc Logo+ recently asked me: “Imagine a world without promotional products. What would it look like?”

I pondered the question and finally came to the conclusion that it would look pretty barren — but not for long. You see, nature abhors a vacuum. The power and ingenuity of the human spirit would take over and the promotional products industry would evolve all over again. There’s just no way marketers would just give up and throw in the towel. Someone would come to their senses and would, prior to throwing in the towel, imprint their company logo on it.

While this notion of promotional products being wiped from the face of the Earth may seem silly, pondering it yielded a valuable marketing insight.

If you take away the promotional product, would you still have a meaningful promotion? It’s possible. Consider my personal experience…

Last summer, my family stayed at a cottage on a lake. My daughter and I drove into the small town to grab some supplies. There in the grocery store parking lot was the Oscar Mayer Wienermobile. They video taped us singing their jingle, gave us each a wiener whistle and a “code” to enter on their website in a couple weeks so we could see our performance. My daughter and I drove through town that day blowing our whistles as loud as we could with the windows down. Yes, we drew looks. Two weeks later, we viewed our performances on-line and downloaded them.

For the two weeks leading up to viewing our performances, we told nearly everyone we knew about it. Once our performances were posted, we played them for and shared the web link with every friend, family and associate we could think of.

Oscar Mayer had a great idea and executed it well. Instead of merely giving us a whistle to promote their company, they gave us … a life experience and a lifelong memory.

HERE’S MY POINT! Take away the promotional product — the whistle — and you still have an effective promotion. Why? Because the idea and execution were so well thought out. The company got us to personally and actively promote their company via word of mouth to more than 100 people over a 4-week period of time.

The winners in life are often those who do best in the face of adversity. This little ponderment of, “What if promotional products ceased to exist?” should serve as a wake up call if upon examination … your promotion doesn’t work without the promotional product.

Those who “get” this concept are the ones who understand — effective promotion isn’t about the products. Rather, it’s about the effective ideas behind the products … that lead to BRILLIANT RESULTS.

Michael Merrick Crooks is a 23-year veteran advertising copywriter and founder of Crooks Advertising Alliance a creative strike-force specializing in creative problem-solving through advertising and promotional marketing. Sign up for his free CrooksView Creative Digest at