CASE STUDY: The Power of Promo – 30 Years Later

Molly Neises, MAS, Sales

Like so many of us, I found myself a part of this amazing industry of promotional products by sheer happenstance.  Before starting my journey with Maple Ridge Farms over 12 years ago, I didn’t understand or acknowledge the existence of an industry that used actual products to promote or market brands, companies, and organizations, or events.  Sure, I had received imprinted pens, t-shirts, and the like, but I never gave much thought to where they came from.  I never stopped to think about someone choosing that product, the imprint placement, or the actual impact it was intended to have.  What was the “reason” it existed to begin with?  Was I their intended recipient?  What were they trying to accomplish with it?

Recently I walked into my parents’ home and as I walked past the desk, I noticed a wooden box sitting underneath a few papers.  The size and shape of the box caught my eye.  It looked strikingly familiar to a wooden box that Maple Ridge Farms had carried back when I first started.  I couldn’t resist.  I shifted the papers aside, and you can imagine my surprise when I noticed a firebranded logo on the lid of the box.  The same firebranded holiday image that we use here at Maple Ridge Farms for limited edition holiday art – complete with the year.  In this case…. 1990! 

What are the chances?  I couldn’t believe I was looking at a product from my own company that had been gifted to my dad 18 years before I even knew they existed.

Well, that led to a very engaging conversation with my dad about where the box came from.  It had been something he had received as a gift 30 years prior from a vendor he worked with when he purchased parts for machinery at a company he worked for.  He thought the box was a great way to store keepsakes, so he took it home where it found a place in a cabinet with other mementos.

As we talked, we opened the box only to discover he had unknowingly been keeping a promotional products time capsule!  Inside we uncovered a multitude of belt buckles, patches, and luggage tags from his time with another company years prior.  He reminisced about all the traveling he had done when I was a child.  He recalled stories of his time “on the road” and all the funny and crazy scenarios that unfolded over the years - with fondness and a smile.

My dad has been retired for a few years now, and he is loving every minute of it.  But all it took was a glance at a wooden box for him to start wandering down memory lane.  Every patch and belt buckle started another sideroad of stories.  And as I sat there with him, I remembered those same logos with regard.  They were a part of my childhood.

So, my questions from earlier?  Why do promotional products exist? What makes up their target audience? What are companies trying to accomplish with them?  They are a key part of brand recognition, meant to start a conversation or cement a memory about their company, organization, or event.

And they obviously work, evidenced by the power they still hold 30 plus years after they were received.  My dad and I created a whole new memory, and it’s one we won’t soon forget.  With that same wooden box now sitting prominently on my desk, I have a daily reminder that promo proudly crosses into all avenues in my life and leaves an everlasting impression… a timeless experience for the ages!

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