Thinking outside of the box can be a good thing when it comes to business practices and marketing creativity. There appears, however, to be an increasing trend toward wasteful promotional gimmicks that do little for a company's image and that fly in the face of our industry's underlying goal of environmentally responsible business practices.
The SNEWSÂ® team is speaking of promotions that mostly promote waste. To that end, we have begun a recognition program where no one should be proud to be a nominee: The SNEWSÂ® Wastrel Awards.
The nominees for January and February 2001, are â€¦the envelope please:
Nominee No. 1: Eureka!Â The SNEWSÂ® team received two deliveries in large boxes just before Winter Market â€” one to each of our offices in Oregon and California. Upon opening the boxes, we discovered a very big, very red, very plastic, "official" Barbie-edition, remote-controlled, battery-powered, convertible Ferrari. Puzzled, the California contingent stared at the box, then at each other, then at the car, then at each other for a few minutes. While we appreciate the creative energy here and we enjoy confusing our dogs when we need entertainment by powering the car around the yard, we in fact remain a bit puzzled. What, exactly, does a convertible Ferrari have to do with a StarGazer tent? Sure, the tent's front awning opens and closes like a convertible top (that's what you told us in the accompanying literature so we assume that's the connection), but come on! How much did this cost you? Or our environment? Frankly, if you are going to stretch the imagination that far, send us something that is more practical â€“ like maybe an umbrella. Hey, it opens and closes.
Nominee No. 2: Thinsulate Insulation. We love snow globes, really we do. But getting four (yes, four!) of them sent to our respective offices just before Winter Market, each leaking water into their respective mailing containers is a promotion that is all wet. Of course, if we push ourselves to think outside the box, we realize perhaps they were meant to leak so we would imagine that Thinsulate Insulation still insulates when wet? Four globes with four messages that did nothing for the editorial team except work our jaws laughing and our legs walking to the trash. Four plastic snow globes now not decomposing in our land fills. Nicely done gang!
Nominee No. 3: Woolrich. An alert SNEWSÂ® reader and buyer for a major North American retail chain sent us an email informing us of Woolrich's new "Think Outside the Box" promotion. Seems our intrepid source, the aforementioned buyer, received an 8-inch-by-1-inch glass test tube with two glossy bits of promotional material inside. It came packaged in a 9-inch-by-6-inch-by-6-inch box stuffed with foam chips. Two other buyers in the same office received the identical package. We find it a tad amusing that a promotion such as this originates from a company which on its web site proclaims: "As the True Original Outdoor Clothing Company, we have survived because of our commitment to be solely customer focused, never selling out to the disposable (sic) trends of today's fashion." Message to all buyers who received this promotion â€“ trust us, it's not disposable; therefore you should apparently figure out a way to wear it.
SNEWSÂ® has a novel idea for those marketing and PR people trying to earn attention and respect for their companies: Work to tie your promotions into ideas that benefit our industry, all that it is, and all that it should stand for: environmental responsibility, recreational enjoyment, social health, and public lands preservation, among the highlights. And, if that taxes your minds too much, then here's a free idea from SNEWSÂ® to you: Next time, simply send us an email, instead of useless and wasteful gadgets. In that email, tell us that for every order placed, for every review written, or for every press mention earned, your company will donate X amount of money to The Conservation Alliance or to ORCA's B4W campaign. Now that's a promotion we'll not only remember, but we'll also applaud in print.