Playing with Promos

So, I’m sitting in my office and my assistant brings me a small package addressed specifically to me.  (A package with my name on it always intrigues me more than a letter or an envelope, and I allow it to disrupt my day.)  Just as curiosity killed the cat, I open the box, and discover a complimentary product sample from a supplier.  “Woohoo!   A gift!  I like gifts!”  I say to myself.   I pull out the plastic cylinder delicately wrapped in Kraft paper, and twirl it around a few times with my fingers.  Inside the packaging I can see a pen that looks somewhat nondescript.  The packaging is branded with the word “SMENS” with a tagline that read:  Gourmet Scented Pens.  Gourmet, huh?  Let me be the judge of that.

As a promotional product, brand marketing professional; I’m required by unspoken promo law to give a product a chance before making any real judgments.   I begin to play with the packaging to see if it “works” for me, which is difficult for me since patience is not a virtue of mine.  (Intrinsically, I want to rip off the top of the tube and smell the yummy goodness inside, but I wait for it.)  I twirl the tube around with my fingers a few times and note that the supplier thoughtfully labeled and marked the imprint area for my client’s logo; it features a whopping 2.638″ x 1.42″ imprint area!  Then, I notice the tube is made of 100% Biodegradable plastic, and it is not only marked with a point of origin, but also a safety notice indicating the product is a choking hazard and it’s not suitable for children under the age of three.   Wow!  I conclude that this supplier “gets it” right out of the starting gate; and I haven’t even opened the tube yet to unveil whatever delightful “gourmet scent” wafts from it. 

Slowly and with much anticipation, I twist off the cap and…HOLY MOTHER of recycled products…YUCK!  It’s LICORICE!  Black licorice!   I detest black licorice!  I dislike the smell, the taste, and the mere thought of it.  The area around my desk is now consumed with the authentic, albeit gourmet, scent of pure, ground, black licorice.  The pen is plain and made from recycled newspapers and I’m no longer quite as “engaged” as a targeted recipient.  One quite savvy marketer missed the mark, by just that much.
In defense of SMENS (who also sells SMENCILS); we’ve all done it.  How would SMENS have known that I strongly dislike black licorice?  Even the savviest of marketing professionals miss their marks when it comes to reaching their targeted audiences.  So, in all fairness, I went to and noticed the company sells a host of gourmet scents, some of which would appeal to a mass audience.  If I were SMENS; I might steer clear of introducing their product initially by way of black licorice and vanilla, two scents that might offend certain people.  All in all, for a scented, completely environmentally-friendly pen; I think they are right on the money with their mission.   The robust quality of the scent also makes me want to give them another chance with one of my client’s orders.  I think I’ll check out the Ninja Berry, Carmel Corn or Mocha and get back to you on that.

Author: Tonia Allen Gould

Tonia Allen Gould is the CEO of Tagsource, a 25-year-old Consumer Promotions and Marketing Agency, she's founder of the Finding Corte Magore Project, and children's book author of Samuel T. Moore of Corte Magore. Here, on this blog, she writes about whatever compels her at the moment. In her book, she explores the concepts of perseverance, hard work, bullying, and finding a place to call home for young readers. The impetus of the Finding Corte Magore project stems from Tonia's background - growing-up below the poverty line, in rural Indiana. A product of Indiana's foster care system, she is the first to say that books, a solid education and teachers, taught her there was a life for herself, tangible and within her reach, she just had to reach out and grab it. After publishing her first book, she decided she wanted to find an island and make it real, by naming it after the fictional place in her book, “Corte Magore,” and utilize it for social and environmental good. Today, the 29-acre island of Corte Magore at Hog Cay, Nicaragua- through a joint partnership with Ambassador Francisco Campbell, the Nicaraguan Ambassador to the U.S.-will be utilized by the Finding Corte Magore Project to work to keep Nicaraguan children in school. The Finding Corte Magore Project works virtually to connect a global community of students and institutions with the plight of educationally and economically repressed Nicaragua. The project involves showcasing and managing one of the country's own beautiful islands in its educational and environmental initiatives. The goal of The Finding Corte Magore Project is to create social awareness coupled with building a sustainable, positive and long-term educational impact on the country's children who have an on-average fifth grade dropout rate. In addition, Tonia is a promotional products industry veteran. She is the founder and CEO of 25-year old Tagsource, LLC (AKA TAG! The Creative Source). She currently serves on the BOD for the Specialty Advertising Association of California (SAAC), is an "Industry Voice", a recipient of a PPAI Golden Pyramid, and has been named on ASI’s Hot List. She is the recipient of Supplier of the Year award through the Women’s Business Enterprise Council West, as nominated by Fortune 500 companies.

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