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Fun Al Fresco: Outdoor Products

By Cherri Gann

A few years ago, I was on a committee to plan a party marking a 20-year service anniversary honoring one of PPAI's team members and searched for a theme suitable for this particular guest of honor. Taking into account her hobby at the time-square dancing-we brainstormed the better part of an afternoon before finally landing on a "country picnic" setting, which, due to weather conditions, would be held in the conference room. The party's accouterments included red-and-white checkered table cloths, miniature-sized hay bails, a dozen original family-recipe potato salads, two hefty batches of slow-cooked barbecued brisket and-my favorite element of our outdoor-inspired décor-an old, large metal ice chest used to chill our longneck-bottled root beers.

As a frequent browser of antique shops, flea markets and garage sales, I knew a beer distributor had given this bronze-colored cooler away as a premium circa the late 1950s or early 1960s. Constructed of stainless steel with an attached foam cushion on the lid, it had performed hearty work in its life but remained in excellent shape. And, centered just below the front latch, the boldly emblazoned (and still popular), recognizable brand-name beer was clear and visible. As I admired the ice chest, its owner-a fellow committee member-told me it belonged to her late grandfather and my heart warmed. This charming insulated monstrosity reminded me of a similar-albeit unimprinted-ice chest from my own childhood. I was instantly reminded of many family camping trips and picnics in the park where it was always part of the standard gear. And for her, in addition to once toting icy-cold ones to any number of outdoor activities for an important man in her life, it also carried joyful recollections of get-togethers with her own family and friends.

That logoed ice chest was used in a promotion decades ago. And when you consider all the sports events, barbecues, beach vacations, camping/fishing trips, picnics and other events at which it has been used-and seen-over the years, the repeated exposure to the advertiser's brand is virtually limitless. "Outdoor products are carried around to a variety of events and seen by others," says Gregg Chatterson, CAS, director of marketing, Admanco, Inc. "Items like beach towels, coolers and can holders really are useful so recipients use them over and over bringing greater exposure for advertisers."

Daniel Berkowitz, president of Spectrum agrees. "Products in this category are useful in a different way from, say, a desk item. Folks who receive a blanket, bag or backpack in conjunction with one outdoor event-like a concert in the park-will also use it for other activities."

"Lots of times outdoor products are given away at golf tournaments or beach events," says Joe Keely, CAS, national sales manager at Quick Point, Inc. "It depends on the usage, but we try to suggest items the recipient can use repeatedly."

Advertising messages aren't just reserved for those who receive the promotional outdoor products. "The key is visibility!" says Clay Spurgeon, marketing manager for RCC Koozie/Norwood. "Whether the product is a captain's chair at a busy sports complex or a microfiber blanket at a neighborhood barbecue, lots of potential customers will see-and likely retain-the advertiser's logo or message."

Another salient selling point: great times and fond memories-like those stirred by the old ice chest. "These products represent good times," says Janita Yurkonis, vice president of sales for Diversified-Adtee™. "Most of us enjoy some type of outdoor activity," says Nick Wright, national sales manager, promotional products for Ogio International. "Enjoying a product and being seen enjoying a product with a logo is good exposure for the advertiser." According to Keely, "Advertisers want positive associations tied to their products. And using it while enjoying a pleasurable leisure activity provides a positive impression for an advertiser."

Finally, since many outdoor products have versatility, they don't always have to be given in conjunction with an outdoor event. For example, Chatterson tells about a local community bank purchasing 1,000 imprinted 1/3-gallon insulated beverage jugs to give local teachers during Teacher Appreciation Week. "It wasn't associated with any type of outdoor theme," he says. "It was just a local business wanting a gift to show appreciation to important members of the community. However, those jugs will more than likely be used in an outdoor activity. And, they were very much appreciated."

So when it comes to beach balls, sunglasses, picnic accessories, stadium seats, grilling sets, camping equipment, backpacks, water bottle holders or other outdoor-related promotional products, it's the enjoyment derived from and the memories generated by their use that hits home with the advertisers' target audience.

COPYRIGHT © 2005 PPB. All rights reserved.
Cherri Gann is an associate editor for PPB.

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