Branding Beat - Cut Through the Noise

The Best Promotional Products of 2018

In a world full of options, it can be difficult to find the best business or service for the best price. That’s why companies are always battling against other competitors to be the go-to company for customers. Whether it’s shoes, apparel, or food, chances are there’s a brand that comes to mind first for each category. The question is: “Why do you pick these particular brands?”

For example, if you want a pair of comfy sweatpants, you might go with Kohl’s to get some Kohl’s cash for your next shopping trip. However, you may choose Victoria Secret’s PINK collection because you get a free tote bag with it. The more brands stand out from their competition, the more customers they get. Companies can do this with one-of-a-kind giveaways or unique promotional products, and 2018 had a few that deserve some recognition!

  • Taco Bell’s Christmas Sweaters
  • Adidas’s Vending Machines
  • Hidden Valley’s Inflatable Yard Décor
  • KFC’s Pool Floats & Honey Bears
  • McDonald’s PopSockets®

Take a more in-depth look at these top promos:

# 1 Taco Bell’s Ugly Christmas Sweaters

From ugly Christmas sweater parties to friendly best sweater competitions in the office, everyone gets a kick out of these festive sweatshirts. You can find ones that light up, sing your favorite holiday tune, or sparkle like the star on top of your tree. However, popular companies like Taco Bell are taking the world by storm with their own custom sweaters. They were released around the beginning of December, but unfortunately, they sold out faster than you can say “Chalupa.”

Take a look at these spec-taco-lar sweaters:

Since ditching their original Chihuahua advertisements, Taco Bell’s marketing has been making news headlines frequently. From their Doritos Locos Tacos explosion to selling breakfast, their branding ideas are far from scarce. Their ugly Christmas sweaters definitely stole the show, even though they’ve also done branded wedding merchandise, limited edition Xbox One X giveaway contests, and offer custom gear in their personal online shop. Overall, I think it’s safe to say Taco Bell isn’t afraid of going big or thinking outside of the box.

# 2 Adidas’s Vending Machines

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As long as none of your items get stuck, vending machines are pretty great. Sure, they can be a little pricey, but that’s why a FREE vending machine that distributes promotional gear is downright genius. Adidas decided to kick off the 2018 World Series between the L.A. Dodgers and Boston Red Sox by placing two “Create a Splash” vending machines in both major cities. Fans went crazy over the chance to win free baseball gear you couldn’t get anywhere else.

The digital vending machines were inspired by the Adidas “Splash Pack” baseball cleats and were filled with prizes ranging from autographed equipment and foam fingers to Adidas shoes and t-shirts. The machines began working at 10:00 AM on game day and didn’t shut off until the final out was given in the 9th inning. As the ball game intensified, so did the prizes! For example, you might have gotten a t-shirt when the game was 0-0, but after a player hit a home run, the machine might have dispensed an autographed baseball. Even if you aren’t a Dodgers or Red Sox fan, getting free, exclusive gear is a win in our book!

# 3 Hidden Valley’s Inflatable Yard Décor

popsugar.com

When you love something, you like to show it off, right? That’s exactly what Hidden Valley had in mind when they re-launced their online store, which included a ton of ranch-inspired merchandise to meet your creamy-buttermilk-loving needs. Of course, how could your holidays be complete without a 6.5-foot inflatable ranch bottle in your yard next to Frosty the Snowman? I’m willing to bet Frosty loves ranch just as much as everybody else. After all, what goes better with carrots other than ranch?

However, most people either love ranch on everything or hate it with a passion. If you love ranch as much as I do, you know paying an extra 60 cents for it on the side is 100% worth it. Well, now you can be extra too with a giant, inflatable ranch bottle. And you don’t have to stop there! Aside from their amazing yard décor, Hidden Valley also has ranch-themed ornaments, wrapping paper, earrings, apparel, and a “star” for the top of your tree. Hidden Valley definitely knew what they were doing when they were coming up with trendy ideas to combine the holiday season with their brand.

# 4 KFC’s Pool Floats & Honey Bears

Have you ever thought about relaxing in the pool on a hot summer day with a bucket of fried chicken? Me neither, but KFC certainly has with their Colonel Sanders pool float. As if that wasn’t enough, KFC also released a chance for people to “adopt” a honey bear dressed as Colonel Sanders to help promote their new Hot Honey flavor. Both giveaways received a lot of chatter and everyone wanted to get their hands on these exclusive freebies.

Take a look at the Honey Bear in action:

Even though eating fried chicken on a pool float sounds more dangerous than fun, consumers loved the product because it’s one-of-a-kind! Same with the honey bear. It’s so strange looking that it’s actually really adorable. Not to mention, the tiny mascot might have been the push people needed to try a new flavor combination. It looks like KFC is certainly not afraid to take huge risks, and so far, they’ve all paid off!

# 5 McDonald’s PopSockets®

news.mcdonalds.com

Nothing’s better than getting your favorite foods delivered right to your door (or office), especially when you get free branded swag too! McDonald’s teamed up with Uber Eats and kicked off the partnership with some McAwesome giveaways. For a limited time, customers could receive McDonald’s branded items like a Bic Mac PopSocket® with their food order.

The joining of 3 successful companies was sure to be a big hit. Not only is McDonald’s one of the leading fast food chains worldwide, but Uber Eats and PopSockets® are two newer companies that emerged within the last few years. We live in a world that’s dominated by technology, strong work ethics, and not enough time in the day. Any collaboration that incorporates a useful promo, delicious food, and the convenience of delivery should be recognized and appreciated by all.

# 6 A Year of Quality Logo Products® Promo Giveaways

Corporate businesses aren’t the only companies that can benefit from promotional products. Non-profit organizations and small businesses can also greatly benefit from stellar promos. Here at Quality Logo Products®, we enjoy giving back to our community by providing a little extra support to some of our favorite organizations.

Check them out:

  • Sugar skull stress balls donated to the City of Aurora for a Movie in the Park showing of Coco
    Sugar skull stress balls donated to the City of Aurora for a Movie in the Park showing of Coco
  • Teddy bears donated to Blackberry Farm for their Holiday Express event
    Teddy bears donated to Blackberry Farm for their Holiday Express event
  • Rally towels donated to the U.S. Olympic Committee for the Ultimate Frisbee Championship
    Rally towels donated to the U.S. Olympic Committee for the Ultimate Frisbee Championship
  • Golf kits filled with water bottles, towels, and golf tees, packaged inside a reusable lunch bag donated to the Fox Valley Park District for their Golf for Kids event
    Golf kits filled with water bottles, towels, and golf tees, packaged inside a reusable lunch bag donated to the Fox Valley Park District for their Golf for Kids event
  • Sunglasses donated to the City of Naperville for Ribfest
    Sunglasses donated to the City of Naperville for Ribfest
  • Coffee mugs donated to Hesed House for their Champions of Hope Breakfast
    Coffee mugs donated to Hesed House for their Champions of Hope Breakfast
  • Tote bags donated to the Fox Valley Special Recreation Foundation for their annual fundraiser, Northern Nights Trees and Lights
    Tote bags donated to the Fox Valley Special Recreation Foundation for their annual fundraiser, Northern Nights Trees and Lights

Companies benefit from incorporating ideas like these into their branding because they will attract customers and raise brand awareness. Promotional products don’t have to be boring. In fact, some of the best promos are the ones disguised as fun, quirky items!

What were your favorite promos in 2018? We’d love to hear them!



Kyrsten Ledger

Kyrsten loves the great outdoors (as long as there's no snow on the ground), and spends a good amount of her free time traveling. When she isn't traveling, she's spending time with her family, reading a new book, or working on her next home improvement project. If she could live anywhere in the world, you'd find her moving into Cinderella's Castle at Walt Disney World.

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