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Enrollment Boosters

Recruiters from Northwestern College wanted something that would capture a potential applicant's attention and bring them to a decision point during the college fair. That item turned out to be free ringtones. 

To kick off the program, Northwestern offered visitors to their booth a branded digital reward card redeemable for a free ringtone. When prospective students accessed the online site printed on the back of their ringtone card, they were asked to provide information about their future education and career interests. This enabled Northwestern to gain future contacts while promoting the educational opportunities the school provides. The student info was then given to a staff member for follow-up.

The ringtone gift could only be redeemed if the prospective student answered the questionnaire. Northwestern found out students were happy to trade personal information for the ringtones. For not much more than the price of a pen, the opportunity to use branded cards to get qualified people to visit the Northwestern website and leave personal information turned out to be a great investment. What's more, the gift made Northwestern stand out from the crowd.

Use innovative techniques to connect prospects to a school's offerings to boost school enrollment. The best methods to do this use promotional products and a strong partnership with your distributor, who can show you great ways to incorporate branded items into your campaign. 

NFL Extends Warm Welcome With Promo Products

Fans at Super Bowl XLVIII scored way more than the Denver Broncos did with the “Warm Welcome” kits they received at the big game. The kits, provided by the NFL, warmed up, and lit up, the 84,000 fans in attendance, offering an array of ultra-cool gifts that were intended to keep fans comfortable in chilly Northeastern temperatures. The gift packages were housed within Super Bowl-themed seat cushions and placed on every seat in MetLife Stadium before the gates opened. 

NFL's distributor partner coordinated with League officials on ideas for upgrading the commemorative seat cushions that are typically given out to fans most years. Since this year's Super Bowl was the first to be played outdoors in a cold-weather city, the NFL wanted to guarantee fans would be comfortable even if conditions turned chilly. 

The cushions and contents got a lot of media playtime. NFL executive vice president Eric Grubman showcased the kits during a January 22 press conference, which was covered by several major media outlets. The kits got additional buzz when hosts Kelly Ripa and Michael Strahan, a former player for the New York Giants, devoted a 4 ½-minute segment to the Warm Welcome kits on their morning talk show. 

The kits contained a slew of products to combat the cold: a “video ski hat,” branded ear muffs, texting gloves, a hand warmer pouch just like the quarterbacks wear, a Gator Dana neck wrap, lip balm, drink sleeves, hand-warmer packets, a small radio with earbuds and tissues. In addition to the 84,000 kits distributed at the game, 30 kits were sent to select TV, radio and print media.

The ski hats, which were beanie style and bore sponsor Pepsi's logo, took on a starring role in the halftime show. The caps contained LED lights and an infrared receiver that, when activated remotely, turned the entire stadium into a backdrop of flashing lights. A Montreal-based multimedia company called PixMob created the technology that allowed fans to become a human light display during performances by Bruno Mars and the Red Hot Chili Peppers.

Brainstorming for Super Bowl XLVIII began well before the previous Super Bowl. The products that ultimately made the cut were chosen because they could be used by fans long after the game, or be displayed alongside other keepsakes.

Besides coordinating the Warm Welcome kits, the NFL's distributor partner also operated the official onsite NFL Super Bowl League Store. The store, which was inside NFL headquarters, was fully stocked with a combination of Super Bowl XLVIII and NFL Shield products. This League store was open exclusively to league employees and family members, NFL officials, NFL alumni and sponsors. There's also a client gifting program for NFL buyers and partners. Gift bags are sold, and kitted with a variety of merchandise from the Super Bowl catalog and distributed to owners, players, sponsors and network affiliates.

Logoed Scissors Highlight Ribbon Cutting

Last September, Zappos, the online clothes and accessories retailer known for its top-notch customer service and energetic company culture, moved its headquarters to Las Vegas. The transfer to glitzy Vegas was two years in the making, and it was the perfect step to indicate its relevance in a big way.

To celebrate, Zappos held a ribbon-cutting event at their new location, the refurbished former city hall in downtown Las Vegas. CEO Tony Hsieh and Mayor Carolyn Goodman spoke to the packed audience of 1,600, many of whom were Zappos employees taking a look at their new offices for the first time.

To make a splash at the grand opening, Zappos enlisted the expertise of their distributor partner for creative ideas to promote the brand. "This was a historic move, and a very big deal for both Zappos and the city," said the account manager. "Because of the importance of the occasion, a ribbon-cutting ceremony was definitely in order."

Zappos worked with their distributor to design a branded ceremonial ribbon that wound its way through the building's plaza and up several balcony levels. They also distributed 1,600 logoed scissors, one for each attendee. "Zappos has an incredible company culture," said the account manager, "so they wanted each and every employee to share that special moment of cutting the ribbon all together."

Have a company milestone, anniversary or other special ceremony on the horizon? Be sure to contact your ad specialty distributor for one-of-a-kind ideas and branded products to make the occasion especially memorable.

Fields of Green

Every March, baseball fans cheer on their favorite leprechauns in the infield and outfield, as a number of Major League Baseball (MLB) teams embrace the traditional "wearing o' the green" for St. Patrick's Day. This game has become a great niche marketing opportunity as the sports franchises sell a wide array of green T-shirts, jerseys and caps at the game, as well as at retail stores and online.

In 1978, the idea to wear specially designed green uniforms appeared to come out of the blue to Cincinnati Reds' general manager Dick Wagner. He surprised everyone, including management and players on the team, when he ordered custom emerald green uniforms, caps and catcher's gear for a spring training game on March 17. No one had any idea he had done this until game day, when green uniforms were hung on each of the player's lockers. From head to toe, any part of the uniform that was traditionally red was green in that game.

It was a publicity stunt that caught on; for the past 35 years, a number of other teams have gone green for St. Patrick's Day. According to a spokesman for the MLB, 10 teams wore green this year. Some kept it simple with green caps or batting gloves. Some, like the Mets, wore green jerseys and hats, and even used shamrock bases on the field. The Cincinnati Reds debuted this year's jersey at a fan event in December.

The Boston Red Sox, home of the Green Monster, have been wearing green hats since 1990 on St. Patrick's Day. They started wearing green jerseys in 2004, when they hosted the Cleveland Indians at City of Palms Park in Fort Myers, FL. Majestic Athletic designed the green jerseys, which have become a popular St. Patrick's Day tradition for fans of Boston, well known for its strong Irish heritage.

The Detroit Tigers, hailing from another city steeped in Irish tradition, had the team bat boy dress as a leprechaun in its 2012 game. And the Philadelphia Phillies team mascot, the Philly Phanatic, has dressed up like a leprechaun and danced the Irish jig for the fans in Clearwater, FL. Some teams auction off their players' green uniforms and donate the proceeds to charity. The Boston Red Sox auctioned some of the players' jerseys after this year's game and donated the proceeds to the Red Sox Foundation.

Over the years, these uniforms have brought in plenty of green – the holiday has become a golden merchandising opportunity for fans to snap-up an array of team spirit wear. There was an assortment of green Reds' products to support St. Patrick's Day, when the Reds took on the Cleveland Indians at Goodyear Field in Arizona, said Reds' vice president of event services and merchandising, Lauren Werner. "We had headwear, T-shirts and the Reds' St. Patrick's Day authentic batting practice jerseys – just like what the players wore on the field – available for sale," she said.

The Red Sox had green jerseys and hats for sale at their spring training facility in Fort Myers and in stores. "Green St. Paddy's Day items always sell," said a spokesman. Dick Wagner's St. Patrick's Day surprise has spread beyond baseball, spilling over into the NBA and NHL.
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