Branding Beat - Cut Through the Noise

Promotional Products in Action: An Interview with Caroline Krause, Assistant Director of Security at Elmhurst College

When I read Jill’s blog post on Achieve Beyond Therapy Service and its success with promotional products, the little hamster wheel in my head started turning. Why not continue this successful promotional product campaign profile series with another satisfied Quality Logo Products® partner?

Meet Caroline Krause, the assistant director of security and lead investigator at Elmhurst College. A four-year Quality Logo Products® veteran who has ordered everything from personalized stress balls to custom pens for her promotions, Caroline shares her unique approach to a popular audience: college students.

If there were ever a clever tagline competition here at Quality Logo Products, there’s NO DOUBT that Caroline would bring home the gold. Her latest summer campaign features a—well, I’ll just let her tell you herself.

Contact Information Customized Magnet

A customized magnet is a fantastic way to get contact information to students, customers, and parents.

Tell me a little bit about what you do exactly.

I am the assistant director of security, and I am lead investigator for the department and investigate all crimes and incidents on campus. I do all the crime prevention programming from alcohol awareness to drugs to fire safety, which gets me involved with Quality Logo Products®. During the summer, I do first year advising.

When the first years come in, they meet with me for an hour for the security speech about campus. That’s where I have all my little giveaways for them: at the presentation.

That’s a great individual touch, meeting with them rather than sending a boring brochure. You also have a personal touch with the giveaways that’s memorable and tangible.

Getting the attention of a college student must be difficult. What products have you found to be the most successful and memorable?

I always liked the stress relievers. I think it’s phenomenal that you have one for everything imaginable. It’s just off the charts. The students like them, but they also really love the whistles, because they love making noise. Those tend to be their favorites. They also take the pens because they need them.

The students do take the stress relievers; they’re gone by the start of school.

What kind of imprints do you get on the products? Is it a logo or awareness tips?

It depends. Every year, I have a safety campaign. This year, it’s drug related.

Illinois has a law that if you’re under 21 and you’re found guilty of underage consumption, possession, transportation, or purchase of alcohol, you lose your license. They want to curb underage drinking. Kids are upset when they go to court: “I just got a city citation. I don’t understand why I lost my license.”

Well, there’s a new law.

I saw the dice and really liked those. On the dice, we printed: “Drinking under 21? You’re gambling with your license.”

We also have the state of Illinois and it says: “Illinois law is clear: You use, you lose.” There’s a picture of a marijuana leaf with a line through it. We take pot offenses very seriously. There’s no such thing as a “little bit” of pot.

Dice Stressball

Drinking under 21? You’re gambling with your driver’s license!

It’s great that you were able to choose a promotional product that matched your tagline, or maybe the product inspired the tagline.

What was great with the Illinois stress relievers is that they were on closeout. Leo [my promotional products consultant] told me how many they had, and I took them all. That’s how we could afford to get the higher priced die item.

I’ve been working with Leo since I started. He was my first contact. We’ve been together about four years. I’ll send him this crazy Word document with everything I want, and he gets it.

He tells me: “I know what you’re trying to say, and I’ll make the art department do it.”

Sounds like you two are right on the same wavelength.

I am the kind of person who wants to call and talk about what I want before I send an email. Once you get the email, you’ll understand more about my vision. I do that with all the companies I work with, because I order the parking stickers and tickets. “Let me tell you what I want, and then send the order in.”

Leo really understands that.

Did Leo let you know the state of Illinois stress reliever was on clearance?

I found it myself. I always check out clearance/blowout items. I’m always looking for ideas for the next year. I always have a list of things I think are good. When it was on clearance, I thought, “Hell yeah!”

Leo told me how many were available, and I placed the order.

Illinois Stress Ball

Illinois Law is Clear: You Use, You Lose

Obviously, price is important and tying in a memorable campaign is critical, but what other factors do you take into consideration when choosing a promotional product?

Quality. I noticed that when I ordered one of the clicky pens; the ones I used to order twisted apart from the bottom. They weren’t broken, but I would order 1,000 and 100 would be untwisted, and you’d have to put them together. I went with a stick pen with a cap.

Have you found ordering samples to be helpful?

Yes. I wanted an arm with a phrase like: “Be tough on crime.” I wanted to see the size and the different imprint areas. I ordered one with someone else’s logo, and it was a lot more helpful.

I am a visual person. I don’t order clothes online. I need to see the imprint area. Don’t tell me 2” x 3”. Send me a sample.

How have Quality Logo Products® and Leo helped with your promotions?

There was nothing wrong with my other company, really. But QLP had everything and anything I wanted. It’s easier to one-stop-shop: pens or Frisbees or cups or anything else I want. I could just get it here. It’s helpful that you have a wide variety of products, and it’s so much easier.

This year, for the first time, I incorporated magnets. They turned out great, I loved them, so I definitely consider that a good purchase.

It’s nice that there’s a ton of variety. If I’m thinking of it, it’s probably on your website.

Whistle Keychain

Blow the whistle on crime!

Caroline’s tips for an awesome promotion:

  • Come up with a tagline! Tie your promo product in with a clever tagline for a memorable giveaway that’s twice as nice.
  • Keep an eye on closeouts! By keeping a list of potential promo ideas and bookmarking our closeouts and clearance section, you could snag an awesome deal.
  • Know your sales rep! “Order takers” are not surviving in the online marketplace; they’re being replaced by online forms. Pick a promotional products consultant who understands your vision and helps solve your problem rather than just places an order for you.

What other ways can you get the attention of a college student? Does sending a serious message with an enjoyable giveaway make it more memorable? Sound off in the comments below!

Until next time, keep expanding your brand!


Bubba is the Quality Logo Products mascot. He may have started out as "just a stress ball," but he's come a long way since the company's launch in 2003. Bubba has been immortalized in numerous vector artwork designs for internal and external promotions, and you can see him change outfits on the Quality Logo Products homepage whenever a holiday rolls around. Oh, and he thinks pants are for the birds. You can connect with Bubba on


  1. Mandy Kilinskis

    It’s so great to see how our customers are using our products! It seems like Caroline is really maximizing the potential of her promo products with scouting through clearance and coming up with great taglines!

    Great interview, Jana!

    • Amanda

      I agree! This is a very good interview, Jana.

      I’m glad Caroline is so happy working with QLP and Leo! =) It’s so nice to hear how our hard work pays off.

  2. Jen

    I agree with Mandy, it is awesome to see how customers use the promotional products we sell!

    Nice post Jana, great interview! I can’t wait to read more in the future 🙂

  3. amy

    Awesome interview Jana!

    I loved the quote, “I am a visual person. I don’t order clothes online. I need to see the imprint area. Don’t tell me 2” x 3”. Send me a sample”. I’m also a visual person that needs to actually see the product in person instead of on a screen. The fact that we offer free samples I think is a major advantage when ordering with us, plus Amanda loves to do samples 😉 Great job!

    • Amanda

      Yay for samples!! =)

  4. LK

    Great interview! Sounds like Caroline and Leo have really thought up some clever ideas for promotion giveaways!

  5. Roxanne Krause

    Fabulous!! you’ve just given me some fabulous idea’s to use here in South Africa! love your guys work!

  6. Joseph Giorgi

    I like the tips you’ve listed:

    Keeping an eye on closeout items can pay off big time! Glad you got a chance to discuss this in the interview. We’ve got some memorable items in our closeout section right now. Here’s one of my faves:

    And yes, it always pays to know your promo products rep! It’s a good feeling to have someone on hand who knows exactly what you’re looking for in a purchase.

    Very cool interview, Jana!

  7. Jill Tooley

    Caroline’s taglines are awesome, and she’s got an eye for selecting the perfect promo items to go with them. I love reading about our customers’ events and successes! 🙂

    It’s funny, because I often come across articles that naysay the effectiveness of promotional products…and then I read posts like this. Students who take those stress balls, whistles, and pens are looking at the slogans every time they use the items (whether they mean to or not). How is that NOT positive exposure for the security department? I held on to all of my NCC freebies like they were made of gold (pens, jump drives, lanyards, water bottles) and who knows how many times I read and reread all of the info that was printed on them.

    I really enjoyed this thorough interview, Jana. And thanks to Caroline for all of the tips and support! 🙂

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