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Top Promotional Products of 2018

The Magellan Promotions team saw a lot of new products at the 2018 Promotional Products Association International Expo. After venturing through more than 1,200 booths and trying out all of our samples, the best of the best made our list of favorites for this year. Read on to learn more about these great products. 

Spark Tumbler

What it is:

The Spark Tumbler is a 12-ounce, double-walled, stainless steel coffee tumbler with a trendy powder-coated finish that ensures your coffee will stay warm.  

Key Feature:

Unique size and look.

Why we love it:

We love the small size! This tumbler fits under the popular Keurig brand of brewers without having to move any filters and its double-walled insulation ensures that coffee stays warm for up to eight hours. If you’re looking to give away something that’s a little more unique than a ceramic mug, and will also reduce spillage because of its lid, this is a fantastic option!

See the Spark Tumbler on our website

Braided 3-in1 Mobile Phone Charger

What it is:

This 3-in-1 charger features micro USB, Lightning, and USB-C connectors with protective covers and a braided cord. These three cords can charge mobile phones, tablets, video game controllers, laptops, and more. 

Key Feature:

Low price. 

Why we love it:

Because this conversation never happens if this product is around.

“Hey, do you have a phone charger I can borrow?”

“Sure, here you go.”

“Oh, I can’t use this kind. Do you happen to have an iPhone charger?”

“Nope, sorry. I only have stuff for Android.”

Starting as low as $3.50, this item is less expensive than other multi-chargers in the promotional product industry. One of the reasons it comes in at that price point is because the Lightning charger only charges iPhones and iPads, but doesn’t sync with your computer. That makes this charger perfect for when you’re on the go.

See the Braided 3-in-1 Mobile Phone Charger on our website

Parkside Smart Pack

What it is:

The Parkside Smart Pack is a fashion-forward backpack that allows you to get fun and creative with your ideas because it features two imprint areas, one of which is full color.

Key Feature:

No minimum orders.

Why we love it:

There are tons of unique ways to use this pack because of the customization options and the no minimum order requirement. 

Here are two creative ways that we like:

1. This bag could serve as a unique recognition award. Let the recipient proudly show off their accomplishment (and your branding) when they take the Parkside Smart Pack with them in public.

2. Whether your office has two or 200 people in it, we think that this bag make would make a perfect gift for staff members.

See the Parkside Smart Pack on our website.

Juice Box Zinc Wireless Power Bank

What it is:

Power banks have been popular in the promotional product industry for a while, but have always needed a cord. Now that Apple has joined Samsung in featuring wireless charging, it’s become the de facto industry standard. This power bank has followed suit in cutting the cord and letting phone owners charge their phone by simply resting their phone on top of it. 

Key Feature:

No-cord charging with a USB backup.

Why we love it:

We live in a world where everyone is attached to their phone and new apps and features drain batteries faster than ever before. The constant battery drain is actually starting to have some major societal ramifications. No, seriously. Nine out of 10 people panic about their battery life dipping low and 32 percent of people will literally drop whatever they’re doing to try and find a charge. We love this wireless power bank because it takes away the panic that 90 percent of society has and does so in an incredibly simple way. All you have to do is just set your phone on top of it and feel the stress and anxiety evaporate. 

It’s highly unlikely that people already have a product like this, so show you’re ahead of the curve by giving this power bank out!

See the Juice Box Zinc Wireless Power Bank on our website

Spectraflex Luggage Tag

What it is:

The Spectraflex Luggage Tag is a flexible, colorful, and durable 3-D luggage tag that is custom molded to your design.

Key Feature:

Custom die cut and PVC plastic.

Why we love it:

The Sprectraflex Luggage Tag is a unique option that will still look sharp after taking a beating in car trunks, luggage bins, and bag carousels. The custom die cut allows you to cut the tag into the shape of your company or school’s logo and reproduce even the smallest of details.

See the Spectraflex Luggage Tag on our website

Soft Fit Solid Active Wear Cap

What it is:

This performance cap features UV protection and moisture-wicking technology, but still retains a fashionable look.

Key Feature:

Performance material that doesn’t sacrifice style.

Why we love it:

Simply put, this performance cap just feels better. Unlike other performance caps that “slouch” on your head, this one has some structure to it, but remains incredibly comfortable. The cap is also stylish enough (as evidenced by it embracing the heather trendthat it can be worn in a casual setting as well

See the Soft Fit Solid Active Wear Cap on our website

Cut Maps

What it is:

Cut Maps are laser cut aerial maps of specific areas. They have stock city-specific options, but their custom process allows for a map of any area that you can bring up on Google Maps. Not only can you put the map into a frame (pictured), but they also make great ornaments.

Key Feature:

Google Maps customization. 

Why we love it:

Alumni offices are always on the lookout for gifts that can tug on the heartstrings a little and a Cut Map does just that. People spend four (or more) of their most formative years on a college campus and during those years campus becomes home. Remind your alumni of “home” with a gift that they’ve never seen before.

Contact us if you’re interested in learning more about Cut Maps.

Tumbling Tower Game

What it is:

The Tumbling Tower Game is the promotional version of of the classic family game Jenga. Players remove blocks one at a time until the tower tumbles. 

Key Feature:

Every single block can be imprinted on for no extra cost. 

Why we love it:

It’s fun! But aside from the personal enjoyment we got from it, we absolutely love the plethora of decoration options. Just imagine how creative you can get with every block. You can share your company message, core values, corporate mission, branding, and anything else you can think of. Plus, who doesn’t love receiving a fun game that you can play with your friends and family?

See the Tumbling Tower Game on our website

Knotty Tie Co. Ties and Scarves

What it is:

Knotty Tie Co. makes eco-friendly ties and scarves from recycled material in the United States. The ties and scarves are completely customizable and are sewn to specific cuts. 

Key Feature:

Social mission and eco-friendly products.

Why we love it:

Knotty Tie Co. creates employment opportunities for refugees from war-torn areas of the globe like Syria, Somalia, and Eritrea. This includes jobs like designer, seamstress, and tailor; jobs that the refugees held in their home countries. Another thing they pride themselves on is teaching skills to single mothers while paying them a good wage and giving them ample personal time off.

If you’re looking for a gift that has a powerful message behind it, this is it. You’re not just giving out a tie or a scarf, you’re helping refugees and single mothers earn a living by making outstanding products in the United States.

Contact us if you’re interested in learning more about Knotty Tie products 

Eclaire Illuminated Stylus Pen

What it is:

The Eclaire Illuminated Stylus Pen features a laser-engraved imprint that lights up whenever the stylus is pressed. The pen also features a deeply textured rubber grip and an ergonomic design to ensure comfort when in use. 

Key Feature:

Light-up logo.

Why we love it:

There are tons of ways to have a brand imprinted on a pen, but this laser-engraved light is one of the coolest we’ve seen. The laser-engraved light wouldn’t mean much if the pen wasn’t comfortable and didn’t write well, but this pen does those both exceptionally. 

See the Eclaire Illuminated Stylus Pen on our website

New Era Tri-Blend Fleece Pullover with Cowl Neck

What it is:

The New Era Tri-Blend Fleece Pullover features a trendy cowl neck while also combining style, comfort, and warmth. This cotton/polyester/rayon tri-blend includes longer length cover-stitched seams, 3-panel hood, and a heat transfer label for tag-free comfort.

Key Feature:

Cowl neck.

Why we love it:

New Era recently unveiled its line of promotional apparel and we’re big fans. The cowl neck collar on hoodies is a new style that we haven’t seen before and adds a bit of flair to an already fashionable hoodie. This comfortable hoodie is the perfect “the office is just a bit too cold in winter” apparel option.

See the New Era Tri-Blend Fleece Pullover on our website

Interested in one or more of these products for your 2018 branding plan? Contact your account manager, send us an email, give us a call at 414-831-0184, or fill out our contact form today!

Summer Event Ideas

Summertime is the perfect time to get outside and enjoy the many community events!
Many colleges participate in state or county fairs to promote their schools to the greater community. We commonly support schools in such efforts. Here is a photo collage of summer event ideas that we’ve created for clients:

promotional ideas for events

A community event is an opportunity to connect with an audience in a fun and exciting way. Having staff wear branded apparel and handing out a promotional item is a way to make your school memorable both during AND after the event.

At events promotional item can:

  • Help drive people to your display and activities
  • Serve as a reminder of the experience with your school after the event ends
  • Promote word of mouth marketing, whenever anyone sees your swag
  • Increase brand recall and recognition to support your school
  • Tie-in with social media accounts to increase your brand’s reach beyond the event

For these reasons, we highly recommend using your brand colors and logo across multiple items. As in the photo collage above, a tote bag is a visible canvas for your logo throughout the event. While we created that bag for the Tosa Farmer’s Market, a similar idea could be applied to any school’s presence. Whenever you’re giving people handouts, a tote bag, drawstring bag, or plastic bag with your logo on it provides a convenient, useful take-away.

Another example of a school that we support for community events is the University of Wisconsin – Milwaukee. The sunglasses and paw print fans pictured in the collage above were used for the Wisconsin State Fair. Temporary tattoos, visors in school colors, and yellow t-shirts were also used for their presence.

Social Media Tie-In Ideas

One strategy to bring the event to a wider audience is imprinting a hashtag or Twitter handle onto promotional items, just as UWM did one their t-shirt imprint last year.

UWM State Fair shirt design

UWM State Fair t-shirt Imprint tied in with social media.

To create buzz and excitement on Twitter, The University of Wisconsin – Madison used the custom #FutureBadger frame at campus visit days and UW-Homecoming. Such frames, school mascots or fun backdrops create an eye-catching photo-opp for event attendees. Photos are then often shared on social media to increase your exposure. Photo-opp attractions are an excellent way to create an interactive display and draw a crowd!

More Event Ideas

For more inspiration and ideas, see UWM’s promotional items in use at the fair  the links below:

Since promotional items serve as a reminder of a brand experience, it’s important to select items that reflect your brand identity.  We recommend advance planning with an experienced promotional consultant, who can discover the right ideas and share examples from other colleges and universities.  We are here to support your summer event planning needs – simply contact us to get started. Happy event planning and have a great summer!

 

Help Students Picture Their Future at your School

Help students picture their future at your school with creative custom frames.

Future-Badgers-case-study

Custom Frame showcases a prospective student on a campus visit. Image credit @uwadmissions

This is a fun, themed promotional item that can easily be incorporated into campus yield events, direct mail, and additional marketing ideas. The custom frame helps achieve the goal of engaging students in a memorable way with a social media component. We created this custom frame for the University of Wisconsin-Madison and wrote about it in this case study. Here’s our guide for how to use a custom frame at your school.

How to use a Custom Frame – On Campus

This oversize custom is an ideal event-related photo opportunity! Here are a few pointers for using the frame:

  1. Pick a favorite spot on campus to have custom frames setup during a campus tour, open house, or yield event. Think of a picturesque, iconic spot on campus.
  2. Assign staff members or current students to have prospective students pose with the frame as part of your event or visit. If staffing is limited, place on a stand to keep it in place.
  3. Another staff member should take pictures with a Polaroid and / or camera phone.
  4. Share digital pictures via social media using the hashtag imprinted on the custom frame. Email, tag, or private message students a copy of the picture. If using a Polaroid, pictures can be shared with students on the spot and posted to a bulletin board.
admitted students custom frame

Check out these #AdmittedBadgers at a yield event. Image credit @uwadmissions

Direct Mail Ideas

Remind students of their on campus experience by mailing a smaller, magnetic frame along with a thank you note. The note can include a generic picture of the magnetic frame displaying a picture taken with the large custom frame on campus, or an actual picture of the student for a more personalized touch.

Direct students to check out pictures of all admitted students on a URL that includes links to your admissions site. Bold, call to actions can promote campus overnight events, invite students to join an incoming class group on social media sites, or instructions on how to secure their place on campus.

For UW-Madison, we created smaller magnetic frames and had them inserted them into envelopes that were imprinted to help streamline mailing of their admitted student packets.

Other Marketing Ideas

“Picture your Future here” themes can easily be integrated into existing marketing. Whether printed or electronic, all communications to students can include custom frame imagery. Emails, posters, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and Snapchat could feature similar imagery.

Admissions counselors could travel with custom frames to bring to high school visits or events and share pictures via social media.

The custom frame is an ideal product for engaging prospective students, tying in social media, and taking advantage of the #selfie photo sharing trend. To view additional information on the custom frame, visit our admitted student showroom or read our case study.

Products Featured

  • Large Custom Frame – 31″ x 42″
  • Medium Custom Frame – 23.5″ x 35.25″
  • Magnetic Frame for direct mail – 5″ x 7.375

How would you use this campaign on your campus?

Top 5 Ideas for Campus Tour Staff

Fall is a beautiful time of year for campus tours. Striking fall colors and cooler weather are realities of our Wisconsin location. Recent conversations with some Midwestern colleges have us sharing ideas for warm apparel. To further expand on outfitting tour guides and admissions staff for campus tours in the colder months, we assembled a list of our favorite ideas.

Top 5 Ideas for Campus Tour Staff

  1. Extra Large Umbrella – Keeping campus visitors comfortable and dry in inclement weather is important.  What a better way to do this than with a huge umbrella with an 80″ arc?  This is a new product that is the LARGEST arc umbrella available. It can hold 4 people underneath! Features vented technology, which allows the wind to pass through the vents. This simply means it’s easier to hold onto on extra windy days. Currently available in black, though we expect more colors to added in the future.  Another larger arc umbrella option with more color choices is the MVP Umbrella. With either item, smaller quantities are available, simply let us know what you need.

    80" arc umbrella for campus tours

    Extra large umbrella can hold up to four people underneath

  2. Outdoor Weather Gear – Many schools have a closet of 10 or more jackets for their tour guides or student ambassadors. This is more cost-effective than simply giving everyone a jacket. Plus keeping them in the tour office makes it easier to keep track and take care of them.  For this purpose, we recommend a durable rain jacket or versatile soft-shell winter jacket.
    Soft Shell Jacket for Tour Guides

    Keep guides warm in a branded soft shell jacket

    On those days when it really pours, consider having re-usable ponchos available for visitors.  This lightweight poncho is a great alternative to single-use ponchos.  It is also eco-friendly and PVC-free.

    rain poncho for campus visitors

    Keep campus visitors nice & dry with this poncho.

  3. Rugby Shirt – A long sleeve rugby shirt is a classic, collegiate look that can be worn over layers, while providing an easy to identify uniform for campus tour guides or staff. Ten different colors available plus custom colors, so you can match your school colors.

    Striped Rugby Shirt

    Red and White Rugby Shirt will stand out in a crowd!

  4. Custom Frame – This is a fun “accessory” that can be used on a campus tour, admitted student day, or any admissions’ event.  The custom frame is an extremely popular way to encourage photo taking and sharing via social media. Learn more about it in our Custom Frame Case Study. Large Custom Frame for Social Media
  5. Winter Hats – A warm hat is an essential for cold winters! This is one of our favorite, USA made knit hats because of its retro look with the knit-in lettering. Poms are also a fun, trendy feature.

    Knit in winter hat

    Knit-in Letters with many colors available to match your school’s colors

What tour items did you like best? How do your tours and respective uniforms change with the seasons?

For more campus tour ideas, including promotional products to give to visitors, visit our showrooms:

  1. Staff and Tour Guide Apparel Showroom
  2. Campus Tour Showroom

Contact us with any questions or for additional promotional product ideas.

Integrating Social Media into Campus Tours – NEW Case Study

Integration.

It’s a key component of any and every marketing plan to make your school more memorable.  A common message woven through print, online, social media, TV radio, direct mail and promotional items can effectively increase exposure and the likelihood of recall.

Lately there’s been a lot of social media integration with promotional products.  Here are a few examples:

This custom frame with the hashtag #FutureBadgers was created for the University of Wisconsin – Madison, Admissions Office.  It was used to integrate social media into campus tours, allowing prospective students show their excitement and actively endorse UW Madison to their own social networks.

Future Badgers Custom Frame

Learn more about the marketing goals, product details, application and results of the custom #FutureBadgers frame by visiting our case study library.

How has your school integrated promotional items into social media or other elements of the marketing mix?