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How One Distributor Used Print and Promo to Promote a Beloved Animated Film – Promo Marketing

Stephen Willwerth, president and owner of Willwerth Management and vice president of new business at SVS Marketing, has created campaigns for some of the most beloved intellectual properties in the world, like “Toy Story.” Here’s how Willwerth combined printed and promotional products to bring the excitement of the film to life by decorating theaters and giving kids something to hold onto.
Can you tell us about a campaign you’ve worked on that blended both print and promo?
Stephen Willwerth: I’ll give you one example with Disney. We did this once a quarter, a new movie would come out—one of the ones we did was “Toy Story” for Disney. We supplied all of the promotional swag to heighten up all of the cinemas from a PR standpoint. We actually produced an entire kit. The kit would have everything from posters to tent cards for upcoming movies, we did about eight pieces of print to support the upcoming movie, and then we turned around and did a variety [of promos]—if it was a winter movie we’d do maybe 1,000 toques per cinema, and they would hand those out to the first 1,000 people who came to see the movie.
How did you choose the products for this application?
SW: It was tied around a certain theme. We would do things like lunch bags for the kids—things that would go with the demographic of the recipient. In a lot of cases, it was ages 4 to 14, so the premiums were always skewed toward the demographics. We did T-shirts, we did school lunch bags, we did some backpacks for the fall. It was tied into the seasonality and the demographic of the end-user.
How did the combination of print and promotional products specifically solve the customer’s needs?
SW: Corporations are trying to find more and more ways not only to save money, but also save time. Years ago, companies even had in-house graphics at one point. And I’ve watched in the past 10 years as in-house graphics has almost disappeared. So, there’s a cost savings [measure]. The next thing is that what clients tend to love about a one-stop shop is when you go from print to premiums and back and forth, sometimes PMS colors don’t [match].
Further to that, we did all the kitting, so you’d have a kit of printed POS material with the premium, you would just take one kit and send it out. And what we became then was almost like a production coordinator, because we would produce premiums in line for print. Everything would show up at the same time, and from a logistics standpoint it made things easier, because we’re supplying all the product and we could order custom-sized packaging. You can only imagine that if someone did the print over here and someone did the promotion over there, your freight is going to be double, and the logistics will be a bit of a nightmare.
Did you run into any roadblocks working on this campaign? If so, how did you overcome them?
SW: The hardest hurdle is accessibility to the decision makers. When you deal with time sensitivity, whether it’s print or promotional products, there’s always time sensitivity, especially now. There are still many delays on product, and clients still have old purchasing habits of getting something in 72 hours, versus now it might be three weeks. The roadblocks I find are in getting access to the decision maker and getting a timely response.
What advice would you give distributors looking to do a similar project?
SW: Never over-promise and under-deliver. If a distributor is looking to enter the print market, it is more difficult to sell because the accuracy has to be 100%. Once you get into the larger projects, the dollars involved are significant. So you have to have an extremely high level of accuracy. You need to know what you’re doing with the print because of the paper stock.
The next thing you need to do is find the right vendor. What’s happened with the advancement of print, no one printer can do everything anymore. When I work with printers today, I have to work with about nine vendors. So you have to make sure your selection process is right on, otherwise you’re going to be selling too much and you’ll have problems if you don’t have the right printer for the job.
Brendan Menapace is the senior digital editor for Promo Marketing. While writing and editing stories come naturally to him, writing his own bio does not.

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