Promotional Incentive Campaigns – Perils and Precautions

Needless to say, it is a huge responsibility for marketing to make the right moves to position their brand in the best possible light. In the area of promotional and loyalty incentives, this endeavor opens the door to countless product possibilities, the challenge being to cull down the choices to best fit the specific promotion’s business goal, target audience, and the marketer’s ROI objective.

As if this task isn’t daunting enough on its own, it is just as important to the marketer what they DO NOT choose to represent their brand as what they do choose. Today’s promotional incentives market is a truly global construct, with products coming from every corner of the earth. China still dominates the hard goods category, but more and more products are coming from emerging economies. This globalization is for the long term betterment of the industry, however it also means the marketer must be more vigilant than ever in choosing their branded items. There is always a new latest and greatest product, but quality control can differ greatly from supplier to supplier, regardless of the country of origin.

One doesn’t have to look any further than the McDonald’s Shrek glass promotion in 2010. 12,000,000 glasses were produced and sold at participating McDonald’s for $2 each. It was soon discovered that traces of cadmium were present in the ink graphic on the glasses. Cadmium has been proven to cause cancer. To mitigate the brewing Public Relations disaster, McDonald’s announced that a refund would be given and recommended that the glasses be returned, and a $3 refund would be issued for each glass. Were the Shrek glasses produced in a land “far far away”, with production facilities and standards that were not in line with the CPSC (Consumer Product Safety Commission) and FDA? No, the glasses were produced right here in the U.S. Yes, this is an extreme example, however caution must be exercised when your brand is applied to an incentive, or associated with merchandise.

So how do you avoid a similar PR disaster? The best course of action is to find a promotional marketing professional whose company is fully compliant and up to date with safety standards, laws and organizations, including those below:

FDA (Federal Drug Administration)

CPSC (Consumer Product Safety Commission)

CPSIA (Consumer Product Safety Act)

FHSA (Federal Hazardous Safety Act)

Once you know you don’t have to worry about the numerous Federal safety provisions, you can get on with choosing the perfect promotional incentive for your campaign, and work out the ideation and timing with your promotional supplier advocate. But wait! Besides Federal requirements, make sure your promotional marketing partner is also up to speed with state requirements, like California’s Prop 65, which details a list of chemicals known to cause cancer or birth defects, and which can be present in just about any manufactured item.

The moral of the story: Choosing your promotional products partner wisely is an ingredient that will produce long term success for you and your company, and will allow you to focus on your core competency of creating great promotional marketing incentives, without having to worry about anything other than your campaign, target audience, and desired ROI.

Leave a Reply