Self-liquidating offers of T-shirts and caps have historically been a good way for marketers to extend brand image at low cost.
Marketers can afford higher-quality premiums for SLOs than they can for gifts-with-purchase or other giveaways. That quality translates to higher perceived value and reflects well on the brand.
Of course, it doesn’t hurt to have your brand sported around town on a T-shirt, either. That old standby is still popular, although it’s sharing the closet these days with other fashion items and a few new fabrics. SLOs are a good way to capitalize on pricey fashion trends, since consumers pick up the cost of premiums.
“Wearables are consistently the largest category of promotional products sales,” accounting for about 32 percent of total sales annually, says Steve Slagle, president of Promotional Products Association International, Irving, TX, which releases its annual spending study this month. (PROMO pegged spending on promotional products, or ad specialties, at $14.8 billion in 1999.) “T-shirts and caps are always popular, because virtually everyone wears them,” Slagle adds. “Other popular items are golf shirts and fleece pullovers, especially with the [growing] popularity of business-casual dress codes.”
Kraft Foods’ Capri Sun ties in with skateboard marketer Mongoose this summer to offer T-shirts and beanies – yes, beanies – to skate-happy tweens. The premiums are more about leveraging the popularity of Mongoose among kids than about the apparel itself, a Kraft spokesperson says.
What’s interesting is that Kraft opted for beanies, an offbeat accessory that’s now popular among its target audience. (Other Capri Sun packages offer generic Beach Stuff, including a splashy logoed T-shirt in kid and adult sizes.)
Kraft sister brand Kool-Aid has its own hat offer this summer as part of the long-running Kool Points program. The red baseball cap with a blue bill has the Kool-Aid face embroidered on the front. Kraft considers the cap “a lifestyle opportunity, a way to take the Kool-Aid smile and extend that equity into a wearable,” a spokesperson says.
Some brands play with their names to register impressions. The bright graphics on Woolite’s laundry bag depict two Woolite bottles swishing around among clothes, bordered by the brand name spelled out using jeans, socks, a tie, and a T-shirt. (The $6 value costs $1.25 and one proof of purchase.)
Currency goes beyond cash, too: Some of the coolest branded apparel is found in continuity programs that swap points for premiums. Frito-Lay lets kids “buy” goodies with Ploids – points printed on snack bags – as part of its ongoing Planet Lunch campaign. There’s a nylon messenger bag (modeled after bike messenger gear) with zippered, mesh, and Velcro-close pockets. (Frito-Lay added an auction overlay to its Ploids program last month, so kids can bid on bigger gear.)
Tony’s Pizza Service, Marshall, MN, celebrates its flagship brand’s 30th birthday with a FunStuff continuity program. Gear includes plaid boxer shorts bearing Tony’s logo and a T-shirt with the Tony’s logo on the front and a pepperoni-pizza exclamation point on the back. Consumers can redeem with proofs of purchase alone or fewer proofs and some cash ($3 for the shirt, $5.40 for the boxers).
Pillsbury, Minneapolis, gets mileage from its Doughboy licensed products via The Doughboy Store, a continuity program whose catalogs are distributed everywhere from supermarket displays to Burger King restaurants (which sell Pillsbury Cini-Minis). The catalog offers a Doughboy baseball cap and a fleece pullover with the Big Guy embroidered on the chest. (There’s also an afghan, a backpack, and a sleeping bag.)
A trendy fabric can boost perceived value and add coolness points.
Polar fleece and Berber fleece are among the more popular fabrics for high-end premiums. There’s also Tyvek, an extremely light, durable construction material popular with active consumers that makes sturdy – and inexpensive – windbreakers and windshirts. Microfiber, a soft, waterproof fabric, is increasingly popular, as is woven hemp.
Looking for trendy items? Consider pullovers, bandannas or kerchiefs, boxer shorts, tear-away warm-up pants, or jeans jackets. For women’s items, try beading or embroidery, both popular in retro-`70s fashion. For men, check out surf wear, drawstring pants, and golf hats.
If any strategies fit, wear them.