Magazine article Marketing

Handle with Flair

Magazine article Marketing

Handle with Flair

Article excerpt

What can a mug say about your brand? Brian Oliver analyses the growing trend to sell more than a company name every time we take a sip

An increasing number of marketers can now boast that their brand names are on consumers' lips day after day and often last thing at night. This is because, according to industry observers, fmcg brands are now pouring more money than ever into promotional mugs. Other pottery premiums, such as themed ornaments and decorative plates, have also become more popular with promoters over the past two years.

However, there's a feeling that there are now so many free mug offers around that the market is in danger of saturation. Promotional mugs have recently been offered as incentives and loyalty-building rewards by brands as diverse as Quaker Oats' Sugar Puffs, Felix cat food, Thornton's chocolates, Heinz baked beans, Royal Mail, Nestle Rowntree's Nescafe, pen manufacturer Berol, Cadbury's Dairy Milk and TimeOut. Even brands which offer a range of items, such as T-shirts and tea-towels, usually include a branded mug in their merchandise collection.

But Neil Shotton, marketing manager at handling and fulfilment specialist Mailcom, points out that consumers' thirst for promotional mugs shows no sign of drying up. "No matter how many choices are offered in a promotion, mugs are always the highest redeemers," he says.

These products are perennially attractive as trade and consumer premiums because every home and workplace needs a collection of tea and coffee mugs. From the promoter's point of view, a mug offers a large amount of advertising space on which to print a logo or slogan. And a free mug with an exclusive design is likely to be retained and used, keeping the brand name in front of the consumer day in, day out.

The key, though, is to use pottery premiums to communicate brand values, not just the brand name.

As David Thursfield, managing director of Kent-based Promotional Results, puts it: "The imaginative use of shapes and colours and new developments such as heat-sensitive mugs, can all be used to convey a brand's personality. And elements can be taken from a product's above-the-line advertising, such as characters from a TV commercial, to reinforce the brand's positioning."

Quickbrew adopted this approach when it offered consumers a chance to collect four different mugs as part of an on-pack promotion for its tea bags. Designed and produced by Quickbrew's agency CSP, part of the Osprey Group, the free mugs featured cartoon characters from the Aardaman Family who appeared in Quickbrew's BBH-produced TV commercials.

Similarly, a recent on-pack promotion for Tetley's tea bags gave consumers a chance to obtain a Staffordshire Tableware mug featuring the Tetley Tea Folk, the cartoon characters from the brand's TV commercials.

James Porteous, trade communication manager at Nestle Rowntree, believes that his company's KitKat mug is one of the brand's most strategically relevant promotional items. The distinctive red mug, which replicates the KitKat logo from the product's wrappers, is used in both trade and consumer promotions.

"KitKat is the brand people associate with having a break, so it is very appropriate to offer a gift that is also associated with taking a break for tea or coffee," says Porteous. "The mug also gives us an opportunity to remind people about enjoying a KitKat with their drink. …

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