How the Chicago Rush Tackles Promotional Products
Click this image to make it bigger, study it carefully for 30 seconds, and then scroll down.
Click to make it bigger. (That's what she said.)
How many brand names do you remember? There were at least six legible and/or recognizable company names and logos in the arena, and it’s unlikely that even after 30 seconds of concentrated attention that you came away with any of them.
(But you guys can’t be bothered to wash your hands for 20 seconds, so why am I not surprised?)
The bottom line is that billboards along the sides of highways and large signs at sporting events are such expected sights that our brain has a tendency to filter them out the same way you just stop noticing that your furnace makes a weird humming sound or your husband is a mouth-breather.
A tiny billboard that’s placed in your hand in the form of a high-retention, decorative promotional product?
That draws attention.
At the Chicago Rush’s home game against the New Orleans Voodoo this past April, there were promotions a-plenty. You might say I know a little bit about promotional products, having worked in the industry for five years and written approximately three-hundred-and-eleventy bajllion descriptions of golf tees. But even with all of my jaded know-how, I still find myself getting wowed by promotional products every now and then.
Now study this image carefully for 30 seconds and then scroll down.
What brand was advertised here? Dodge! More specifically, Dodge Ram. This car company was present at the Chicago Rush game, trying to give me a free car (and I was shocked to discover there were strings attached). But the promotion that really stuck with me was the distribution of customized Bobble Head dolls.
The night of the game included a ceremony to retire the number of Bob McMillen, the coach of the Rush and former player on the team. All fans who attended the game that night were given a Bob McMillen Bobble Head doll.
Ready for game time!
This was successful for three main reasons:
1) Decorative items like customized bobble head dolls are unique enough to draw attention, high-retention gifts, and frequently commented on by non-owners.
2) They are appealing to all levels of fandom: from the season ticket owner who paints her face to the guy who was invited because there was an extra ticket in his group of friends.
3) Look at that face! Who doesn’t love a custom bobble head doll?
The Bob McMillen Bobble Head doll (and his visible yet not overwhelming Dodge Ram placard at the bottom) made its way home with me and now holds a place of honor on my desk. Most people who’ve seen it have said something about it, and every last one has leaned in closer to see the Dodge Ram logo at the bottom. For the investment of giving me a bobble head, Dodge Ram and the Chicago Rush have gotten their brands out to at least a dozen other people so far.
I can see why, too. He’s a cute little guy! He’s even making friends.
I like to imagine they run plays at night with Bubba blocking.
The Rush promotional team is also such huge believer in the power of the promotional product that the Rush website even features a promotional schedule that shows which freebies are being given out at each game. The Rush as gone beyond simply using promotional products to reinforce brand awareness AFTER a game to using the temptation of a freebie to draw people INTO a game. Those are conversions BEFORE the promotional product is even distributed!
What do you think about Dodge’s promotion? How do you think the Chicago Rush and Dodge both benefit from distributing the bobble heads? What else could they have done?
Until next time, keep expanding your brand!