Advertising Gifts Explored: Corporate Generosity and the Emotional Reaction

This is a guest post by Celina Jonesi. Celina Jonesi is a distributor for British Promotional Merchandise Association (BPMA) is one of the UK’s leading industry bodies dedicated to promoting best practice around the sourcing, manufacturing and distribution of promotional products. You can find more information here.  If you’d like to guest post on this blog, check out the guidelines here.

Emotion is a big idea in advertising. You only have to look at the imagery; listen to the music; and watch the camera work in a TV ad or a movie ad to identify the emotion the advertisers want you to feel. Bright colors  zany characters and quirky soundtrack: they want the consumer to feel happy, and to align the possibility of happiness and/or simplicity with their product. Brooding lighting, black and white film, moody celebrities: it’s all about feeling sultry and cool, as though you could potentially be in the permanent movie of your life.

Advertising gifts plug into the idea that consumers can be made to have emotional responses to brands, too. In some cases, they fit directly with the current emotional mores of the brand’s existing advertising.

A famous orange soft drink manufacturer, for example, used to have an advertising campaign in which zany people did crazy things with orange hooters. The next stage: to make those hooters available to the consumer, as a loyalty bonus, after he or she sent in a number of dedicated ring pulls. The result was a campaign that not only made people align the idea of zaniness and fun with the drink, but allowed them to actually act like the crazy people in the adverts for it.

Not all advertising gifts have this clear a link between advertising campaign and item: and not all are specifically aligned with other ad campaigns. Some, indeed, become campaigns in their own right – so much so that their existence has formed a sort of annual tradition among business to business marketers.

The archetype of this is the office wall or desk calendar, traditionally sent by supplier to client towards the end of the year. If you can get your brand name and logo on a calendar that will then be used for 12 months by one of your clients, it’s unlikely that (unforeseen circumstances barred) you’re going to drop off their radar. In this case, the gift itself is the advert: and is provably successful in its job. Pens and calendars have been making good advertising gifts for a very long time indeed, and are still seen as useful weapons in the marketing arsenal.

Indeed, anything that can be inserted into the office environment, is likely to be used regularly and is big enough to bear some kind of logo or message, becomes a potential future advertising gift. Stress balls had their day in the sun, when the concept of office burnout was at its height. Mouse mats have been favored ever since the office environment got connected. Modern additions to the roster of office based advertising gifts are beginning to revolve around the smart phone and laptop – anything used a great deal by a business person is an excellent canvas for a business message.

New advertising gifts, then, include styluses for touch screens; and portable storage media (USB sticks). USB sticks are particularly popular as they can be molded into novel shapes as well as branded.