Industry Insight

The 13 Most Creative Promotional Products of All Time

You see good promotional items everywhere! Who hasn’t grabbed a free tote bag at a community art festival or a bunch of branded pens from the cup at a doctor’s office?

Let’s face it, though, these items can sometimes be, well, kind of boring. Sure, it’s nice to get a cool tote bag or pen, but people really want to take selfies with and talk about something that’s more unique. It’s all about your brand daring to be creative…and maybe a little weird.

Are you ready to stretch your imagination? Take inspiration from the best promotional giveaways of all time!

#1:  Iams’s Frisbees

Source: UK Corporate Gifts

How they were used: These weight-shaped discs were handed out at dog parks in Australia.

Iams raised the woof with great promotional gifts in the shape of barbell weights. The design was meant to show how their pet food is “stronger” than other pet food brands, which is apparently true since the brand remains out of the doghouse with an estimated net worth of about $3.8 billion. This amount will be even higher if they continue to have great promo item ideas in the future!

#2:  KFC’s Inflatable Colonel

Source: Marketing Dive

How they were used:  KFC offered these pool toys to dedicated fans via a Snapchat Memorial Day giveaway.

KFC’s marketing is always extra crispy and they’re not shy about using unique promotional items. Aside from honey bears and holiday sweaters, they also released Colonel Sanders floaties with a built-in cup holder for your bucket of chicken. The fast food chain seems to be floating along just fine as over 1,000 new locations opened worldwide in 2018.

#3:  Budweiser’s Light Up Cups

Source: Ebay.com

How they were used:  The NHL offered these team souvenirs for the first 10,000 fans who came to Game 2 of the Washington Capitals vs. the Toronto Maple Leafs.

Budweiser scored big with these unique glasses, which sync from a fan’s phone to light up every time their team scores. The buzz on social media was so strong about these cups, the Chicago Blackhawks, Pittsburgh Steelers, and Green Bay Packers jumped on the bandwagon to offer their own versions!

#4:  General Electric’s Comic Books

Source: General Electric

How they were used:  In the 1950s, General Electric hired the same artists who worked on Batman to design exclusive comic books for their brand.

General Electric has funny products to advertise, like aircrafts, power generators, and oil equipment. They still found a way to make their marketing exciting, though, with these colorful comic books. The old-school comics are now valuable collectibles, but fans will be happy to know GE has also released new sci-fi stories for their digital app. 

#5:  Mountain Dew’s Xbox

How they were used:  These green machines could be yours if you collected 550 “dew points” from different cases or bottles of Mountain Dew. 

Mountain Dew, which positions itself as the “official soda for gamers,” released limited edition Xbox and Xbox Ones in 2004. This isn’t the only time PepsiCo has let its nerd flag fly– they gave away 1,000 Xbox One X in 2018 consoles and even released their own video game character, Pepsiman. Who knows? Maybe we’ll see “Micro Soft Drinks” that are just mini bottles of Mountain Dew in the future!

#6:  Domino’s Onesie

Source: Ad Week

How they were used:  Dominos sold these fun promo items for about $32 at select locations in the United Kingdom. The money raised went to the Teenage Cancer Trust.

If you plan on having a pizza party, it only makes sense to change into your pajamas. Dominos got in on that action with “the world’s first ‘wipeable’ onesie.” These pjs, which were designed by Charlotte Denn, are made so you can get sauce on them without worrying about any stains.

#7:  Aldi’s Keychains

Source: Aldi Reviewer

How they were used:  The grocery store, which is known for requiring a “rental fee” for their carts, made it really easy with quarter keeper keychains that were sold at their stores for just 99 cents.

Talk about a dream pairing! Every time you head to the grocery store, you grab your car keys, right? Now you’ll keep Aldi in mind and have your quarter handy at the same time! The idea behind Aldi’s quarter is to keep their prices low and pass those savings on to the average 40 million people that shop there every month.

#8:  Burger King’s Perfume

Source: highsnobiety.com

How they were used:  Burger King released 1,000 of their Flame-Grilled perfumes in Japan. You could buy a bottle for about $40 and get a complementary Whopper with the deal.

Who doesn’t want to smell like meat all day? That was Burger King’s theory when they released these limited edition perfumes on April Fool’s Day. It wasn’t a joke, and even to this day, they’re not the only food brand to try unique marketing products at this level. Cheetos, Pizza Hut, and KFC also have their own fragrances. 

#9:  Y+ Yoga’s Straws

Source: Ads of the World

How they were used:  These flexible straws were handed out to customers at local fruit juice bars in Shanghai, China.

The best promotional products tie back into what you’re all about, such as these extra bendy, memorable straws. Y+ Yoga is located in one of the biggest cities in China, but all that unique marketing is paying off. In fact, the yoga studio was recommended by Culture Trip in 2017 as one of the best to visit in Shanghai.

#10:  McDonald’s Bling Ring

Source: Ad Week

How they were used:  This $10,000 ring was offered to one lucky fan on social media in 2018 when they used #BlingMacContest and tagged McDonald’s.

In celebration of new Big Mac sizes – the Grand Big Mac, Big Mac, and Mac Jr. – the McDonald’s corporate office in Oak Brook, Illinois got flashy with funny promotional items they called “Bling Macs.” Be careful because you might end up getting proposed to with this juicy jewel. According to Forbes, more couples are getting married at McDonald’s and other fast food outlets than ever before.

#11:  Starbucks’s Cat Collection

Image source: Business Insider

How they were used:  As part of Valentine’s Day in Korea, Starbucks released this unique collection of cat cups and kitty kettles.

With dedicated fans in 29,324 locations around the world, Starbucks always has to come up with great promotional items that win over the crowd. This led them to take a new approach with cat-themed drinkware that’s purrfect for date night! You can also find coin pouches, pins, tumblers, and water bottles in this adorable design.

#12:  Allstate’s Disaster Kits

Source: Auburn Reporter

How they were used:  Allstate gave away 1,000 drawstring bags stuffed with branded blankets, first aid kits, masks, wet wipes, and flashlights to people in Oregon in 2019.  

People have to worry about all kinds of natural disasters like earthquakes and hurricanes. Allstate is making sure they’re covered with useful emergency kits. The insurance company devotes a lot of time to volunteer work through the Allstate Foundation, with 258,000 hours served and $7.5 million contributed in 2018 alone.

#13:  IBM’s Drones

Source: YouTube

How they were used:  IBM Developer, a resource center for developers, IT professionals, and students, gave away boxes filled with custom t-shirts, stickers, and programmable DJI Tello drones to over 1,500 lucky recipients!  

IBM Developer showed off their tech savviness with this great online giveaway in 2018. Those who entered received not only cool promotional items like a logoed t-shirt and sticker, but also a drone that could be operated right from their phone. It’s simple programming language that anyone can do, making #IBMDroneDrop a creative way to put IBM Developer’s services on the map!

What Are the Best Promotional Items to Give Away?

The best company promotional items are the ones that are not only unique, but will actually be used by the people receiving them. That’s why you can’t go wrong with:

  • Drinkware
  • Phone accessories
  • Sunglasses
  • Apparel
  • Office supplies
  • Bags
  • Stress balls
  • Lunch containers
  • Magnets
  • Umbrellas

The icing on the cake is when these giveaways are trendy, unusual, or budget-friendly. If you need ideas for promotional items, check out some of these winners!

trendy promotional products
trendy popsocket
trendy ombre umbrella
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Even though it’s a digital world, you should still use unique marketing products to make a statement. It’s the creative brands that stand apart and become viral sensations!

And of course – don’t forget to use the best promotional products company for the job… Quality Logo Products!

References:

Dayton Business Journal. (2018, March 8). Dayton-Area Billionaire Falls on Forbes Worldwide List. Retrieved April 15, 2019, from https://www.bizjournals.com/dayton/news/2018/03/08/dayton-area-billionaire-falls-on-forbes-worldwide.html

Statista. (2019). Number of Kentucky Fried Chicken Restaurants Worldwide from 2010 to 2018. Retrieved April 15, 2019, from https://www.statista.com/statistics/256793/kfc-restaurants-worldwide-by-geographic-region/


Washington Capitals. (2017, April 14). Budweiser Goal-Synched Red Light Cups at Game 2. Retrieved April 15, 2019, from
https://www.nhl.com/capitals/news/budweiser-debuts-goal-synched-red-light-cups-during-capitals-playoff-game-2/c-288791348

Nudd, T. (2016, December 29). Domino’s Made a ‘Wipeable’ Adult Onesie, So You Can Get Pizza All Over Yourself While Eating. Retrieved April 15, 2019, from https://www.adweek.com/creativity/dominos-made-wipeable-adult-onesie-so-you-can-get-pizza-all-over-yourself-while-eating-175316/

Aldi Reviewer. (2018, July 4). Aldi Keychain Quarter Holder. Retrieved April 16, 2019, from https://www.aldireviewer.com/2018/07/04/aldi-keychain-quarter-holder/

Kelly, D. (2019). The Real Reason Aldi Makes Customers Pay for Shopping Carts. Retrieved April 16, 2019, from https://www.mashed.com/143493/the-real-reason-aldi-makes-customers-pay-for-shopping-carts/

Smith, C. (2019, April 10). Interesting Aldi Statistics and Facts (2019) | By The Numbers. Retrieved April 16, 2019, from https://expandedramblings.com/index.php/aldi-statistics-facts/

Coyle, B. (2017, September 14). Xbox, Mountain Dew, and Doritos Team Up to Give Away Xbox One X Consoles. Retrieved April 16, 2019, from https://news.xbox.com/en-us/2017/09/14/xbox-one-x-mountain-dew-and-doritos-give-away/

Harris, J. (2015, March 21). Burger King Perfume? 5 Food Scents You Probably Won’t Want to Smell. Retrieved April 16, 2019, from https://www.latimes.com/food/dailydish/la-dd-burger-king-perfume-20150321-story.html

Deason, R. (2017, June 6). The Best Yoga Studios in Shanghai. Retrieved April 16, 2019, from https://theculturetrip.com/asia/china/articles/the-best-yoga-studios-in-shanghai/

Statista. (2019). Number of Starbucks Stores Worldwide from 2003 to 2018. Retrieved April 16, 2019, from https://www.statista.com/statistics/266465/number-of-starbucks-stores-worldwide/

Rugless, R. (2018, February 8). McDonald’s Promotes 3 Big Mac Sizes with ‘Bling’ Giveaway. Retrieved April 16, 2019, from https://www.nrn.com/marketing/mcdonald-s-promotes-3-big-mac-sizes-bling-giveaway

Williams, G. (2017, March 28). More Couples Are Saying ‘I Do’ to Marrying at Taco Bell, McDonald’s, and Other Fast Food Outlets. Retrieved April 16, 2019, from https://www.forbes.com/sites/geoffwilliams/2017/03/28/more-couples-are-saying-i-do-to-marrying-at-taco-bell-mcdonalds-and-other-fast-food-outlets/#25029cb057e7

Herles, T. (2015, December 3). Adventures in Electricity: Old GE Comics Still Teach Powerful Lessons. Retrieved April 16, 2019, from https://www.ge.com/reports/ge-comics-adventures-electricity/

Beer, J. (2015, November 17). General Electric and Wattpad Combine Modern Science with Old School Sci-Fi Comics. Retrieved April 16, 2019, from https://www.fastcompany.com/3053666/general-electric-and-wattpad-combine-modern-science-with-old-school-sci-fi-comics

KITV 4. (2018, May 7th). Allstate Gives Away 1,000 Free Disaster Preparedness Kits. Retrieved April 16, 2019, from https://www.kitv.com/story/38135014/allstate-gives-away-1000-free-disaster-preparedness-kits

Allstate Foundation. (2019). About Page. Retrieved April 16, 2019, from https://allstatefoundation.org/what-we-do/transform-communities/