Digital touches boost impact of branded giveaways

Placing a client's name on some free giveaway item may be the most rudimentary form of branding.

Placing a client's name on some free giveaway item may be the most rudimentary form of branding.

Everyone is familiar with the types of items that usually are festooned with company logos and information: pens, squeeze balls, T-shirts, and other knickknacks likely to become mere clutter under someone's desk.

In the digital age, it's no longer enough to slap a logo on a visor and expect some tangible benefit. Branded giveaway items remain a staple tactic, but by injecting modern thinking into an old practice, firms can ensure their items have an effect on their target audiences.

When New York-based Zer0 to 5ive was helping SunGard Higher Education introduce a rebranded program to vendors and clients at a conference, it needed a giveaway that communicated both technology and a positive outlook. So the team gave out branded iPods full of upbeat songs.

"We picked songs like 'I'm Walking on Sunshine' to be reflective of SunGard," says Marybeth Ferrigno, Zer0 to 5ive senior strategist. "You want to give the biggest 'wow' factor for the price that you can."

Perhaps the main advantage of digital giveaways is they can look like anything on the outside, but hold key brand information inside.

To get fishing tackle company Rapala to stand out at a sportfishing convention, Carmichael Lynch Spong gave away a flash drive packed with information and videos about the company. The twist? The drive was shaped like an original Rapala fishing lure.

"As technology improves... it's going to be a continuing trend," says Brian Anderson, senior associate at CLS.

In fact, interesting products can go a long way in convincing the media that your company is interesting enough to merit attention.

Zig, a Canada-based advertising agency, created Livestrong-type bracelets to give out at a Cannes, France, ad conference, branded with the phrase "How to Zig." The bracelets opened to reveal a USB memory stick with information on Zig.

"Making a book [or] yet another DVD would have been terrible," says Martin Beauvais, Zig creative director. "We wanted something... we could give to people and automatically create a reaction.

Key points:

Traditional branded items might not have a lasting impact

Using digital data can condense information into a small, shapable space

Flash drives or memory sticks with catchy outer casings are cost-effective and popular giveaways

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