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T-Shirts Help Promote Healthy Message

Akron General Health System wants to be known for its listening skills and recently launched a marketing and consumer-engagement campaign titled, “My Health. My Life.”

“Because Akron General’s goal is to understand the health-care needs of each member of the community, the campaign was launched to communicate this,” says Gina Page, senior account manager/PR with Hitchcock Fleming & Associates (hfa).

Research conducted by Akron General and hfa showed that individuals in the community want a health-care system that listens closely to what they have to say and works collaboratively with them to share important information about their health. The campaign is helping start conversations to achieve the health-care system’s goal. “Our new campaign revolves around education, empathy, collaboration and meeting the wellness needs of everyone at any age,” says Thomas Stover, M.D., president and CEO of the Akron General Health System.

Akron General has thousands of employees and T-shirts were given to them to leverage the staff as brand advocates and to promote the new tagline. “It’s been a huge momentum builder as the positioning is something that every Akron General associate truly believes in,” says Page.

Marketing teams at Akron General and hfa designed the multi-tier campaign that included print, local and cable TV, social media, radio, online, outdoor, paid search and sponsorships. The initial TV spot debuted in April, but some elements of the campaign began in late March.

Be sure to contact your distributor partner to develop your own effective campaign that will lead to successful results.

Using a Sales Trojan Horse

For smaller financial clients, which are competing against behemoths with more money and bigger name recognition, the most-effective promotional campaigns are often those that focus on trust and service. That was made especially clear to one promotional products distributor who helped his client, a local investment bank, develop an effort to reach out to corporate clients.

In targeting a number of “million-dollar clients,” as the distributor calls them, the bank hoped not only to get the business of the organizations, but also of their employees – or at least be on their radar. Of course, getting past the company gatekeeper is always a challenge to those dropping in on a new prospect, and jumping right in to a sales pitch might put the client on the defensive.

“They were looking for some way that they could stand out when up against the name-brand banks, and at least get their foot in the door to market to these employees,” the distributor says.

So they came up with something of a sales Trojan horse. The distributor worked with a supplier to create a box covered with a laminate so it looked like a small bank, complete with the phone number and information about the community bank. They then filled each box with a dozen donuts and brought them to the prospects, with little explanation beyond the fact that this was just a little something from the local bank. This continued for three weeks, dropping off the box of donuts every Tuesday, until the fourth week, when the delivery inexplicably stopped.

“More often than not, they would get a call from the office manager asking, ‘What happened to the donuts?’ ” the distributor says. “If they did not get a call, they would call the prospect the next day and usually found themselves welcomed to the office to make their pitch. They got substantial business out of it.”

Since the bank saw not just the company, but also its employees, as potential clients, the donut box, which would get a lot of attention in the break room, was a particularly potent tool. It created interest in the brand for those coming in and grabbing the donuts, and many would assume their company was already doing business with the bank, thus creating a level of trust and name recognition.

Strange Love Makes for a Hit Promotion

An unusual product requires an unusual promotion. Culturelle, a company that makes dietary supplements that aid in digestive health and immune-system functioning, was looking to promote its brand in a quirky way. The company’s products are “probiotics” – healthy bacteria that aid digestion – which might confuse the average consumer who associates bacteria with disease or things unhealthy.

With this in mind, Culturelle devised the “I Love Bacteria” campaign. The company gave away T-shirts imprinted with the classic “I ♥ ” icon to curious customers who saw an ad for it. After an extremely successful test-run of the campaign in September 2009, Culturelle widened the promotion, tying it into its print and television advertising campaigns, both of which featured someone wearing the “I ♥ Bacteria” T-shirt.

The quirky giveaway met every one of the company’s goals. “We grew our consumer database substantially, increased our out-of-home branding since our logo was on the back of the shirts, and even used the shirts as a giveaway that bloggers used to kick-start a program which educated consumers about Culturelle and probiotics,” says Dave O’Brien, brand manager for Culturelle.

In fact, the company got much more than it bargained for. Using social media as well as more traditional outlets, Culturelle ended up with more than 100,000 requests in the first week alone. The giveaways have been put on hold for awhile due to the speed with which they were snapped up. Currently the brand’s leadership is considering new ways to get the “I Love Bacteria” message out.

“People like wearing shirts that cause others to take a second look, and this shirt definitely accomplishes that,” says O’Brien. “The shirt also acts as a great way to connect consumers with the brand and make it a part of their life.”

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