When thinking about branded merchandise and promo products, you’re likely thinking about company logos printed on standard items such as water bottles, t-shirts, and stationery. However, some brands are releasing anything-but-boring items. These companies have nailed their branding, understand their audience, mixed in some fun, and are now serving up merchandise that generates buzz!
Take notes, because we’ve rounded up some of the best uses of promotional products we’ve seen!
1. Panera Bread’s ‘Swim Soups’ Collection
Source: Panera Bread Swim Soups
Inspired by a survey Panera released, which found that 70% of people stated that the hot weather did not stop them from eating soup, the restaurant chain released four soup-inspired swimwear styles and a “Bread Bowl” pool float. These items are fun and practical for poolside soup-sippin’, and given their sold-out status, we’d say these were a hit!
As well, we love the word play between “swimsuit” and “swim soup”.
2. Teletubbies Pride Month Merchandise
Source: Teletubbies Love Pride
Colourful Teletubbies. A catchphrase of “Big Hug”. Psychedelic backgrounds.
Creating a Teletubbies Pride collection was inevitable. With 90’s inspired items such as bucket hats and fanny packs emblazoned with the Teletubbies colours, the collection embodies the Teletubbies’ “love who you are” and “big hugs, big love” spirit.
Proceeds from the sales will go towards GLAAD, the LGBTQ+ media organization!
3. Portillo’s Pool Float
Portillo’s, an American fast casual restaurant chain known for their Chicago-style food, definitely had fun releasing this pool float inspired by their Italian Beef sandwich.
The chain also has other fun merchandise such as cheese fries-adorned socks, hot dog cufflinks, giardiniera print swimwear, with all sale proceeds going to their nonprofit organization supporting employees facing financial hardships. Selling branded products is a great way to raise funding for a non-profit or cause, as it gives consumers a tangible product to remember you by.
4. BarkBox NBA Boxes for Dogs
For the furry basketball fans and their parents who want to represent their favourite team, BarkBox (a monthly subscription service providing dog products) developed six themed boxes in partnership with the NBA. Each box was based on a team, and contained a logo chew, a Buddy toy, and a bandana.
The teams are:
- The LA Lakers
- The Philadelphia 76ers
- The Milwaukee Bucks
- The Brooklyn Nets
- The Dallas Mavericks
- The Houston Rockets
Pet promotional products are an often overlooked category of products, but they can be so impactful in creating a relationship between a brand and consumer! Here’s our guide to choosing the best pet promotional products.
5. IKEA Bucket Hats
IKEA, known for their iconic blue shopping bag, has other branded merchandise such as this blue bucket hat made from the same blue polypropylene material.
Bucket hats have made a comeback in 2020-2021, making them a great branding opportunity!
6. Taco Bell Puzzle
Jigsaw puzzle sales saw a huge uptick in sales in 2020 as people found ways to entertain themselves during stay-at-home order. Taco Bell released various puzzles last year, with some selling out, and many commenting on the solid quality of the puzzle pieces. Now that’s something to taco ‘bout!
7. ContentKing SEO Socks
ContentKing, a marketing software company, gave away a free pair of socks to all participants of their SEO (search engine optimization) research survey. The socks had different HTTP response status codes, making this a fun and professional merch!
8. Chipotle Foil Gym Duffel Bag
This duffle bag hilariously resembles their iconic wrapped burrito. If that doesn’t catch your attention, this bag is also sustainable and made from 100% recycled bottles!
More and more consumers are requesting sustainable options, and for more inspiration, check out our sustainable merchandise catalogue.
9. Pizza Hut Weighted Blanket
Source: USA Today
Pizza Hut has previously released some interesting merch (eg. their Pizza Hut perfume), but their weighted blanket, inspired by the popularity of the Original Pan Pizza, is perfect for all the pizza aficiona-doughs.
Unsurprisingly, the blanket is sold out!
10. Dunkin’ Reusable Cold Cups
Source: Elite Daily
These tumblers are a departure from the usual pink and yellow logo-covered merch Dunkin’ is known for. Instead, these are sleek and minimalistic, and are subtly stamped with the initials “DNKN”.
11. GQ Logo T-shirt
GQ, a magazine that focuses on men’s fashion and style, has their own merch store stocked with well-done basics and other themed apparel. The logo on this shirt is printed in a subtle tonal hue, making it a great understated and versatile piece.
12. No Frills Album
No Frills, a Canadian grocery retailer, dropped an album with grocery-themed tracks with titles such as “ “88 Sale”, “So Fresh”, and “Bag It Up”. Not to be beat, they also released a vinyl version that was featured on The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon.
The agency behind the marketing campaign, john st., has also won numerous awards for their work with No Frills. Well deserved, because they’ve definitely helped No Frills be remembered as a fun discount grocer!
Image source: Curiocity
13. Panda Express Merchandise
Panda Express, the largest Asian restaurant chain in the United States, has an unexpectedly fun merch line that launched in September 2020. Stocked with items such as t-shirts and masks, they also have surprise items such as honey sesame chicken-themed blazers, and honey sesame chicken candles.
14. Bernie Sanders Sweatshirt
Bernie Sanders went viral during the 2021 presidential inauguration, with an image of him wearing wooly mittens being used in countless memes. Surprisingly, he embraced the meme, and used this image to sell sweatshirts. All proceeds went to Meals on Wheels Vermont, and they were able to raise $1.8 million for the non-profit.
This is a great example of how memes become marketing opportunities, and another example of how promotional products can be used to raise funds for a worthy cause!
15. Boss Promotions Ice Cream Kit
Not to toot our own horn, but for summer 2021, we gave clients an ice cream kit and asked them to show us their creations! The belly band had an ice cream personality test, and some of the delicious items included in the kit were oreo crumbs, sprinkles, sugar pearls, chocolate sauce, and waffle cones.
Promotional products are not only for advertising a brand, but also for showing appreciation for your clients and staff!
Have a promotional product idea you want to explore with us? Contact us today to get started!