Big Brands Go Analog With Merchandise

In this time of all things digital it is fun to see big brands going “analog”. Promotional merchandise or merch or schwag is hot right now. And I love that it is. Perhaps I am dating myself but promotions were always a fun part of the marketing mix for me.

KCF loves to print the Colonel’s likeness on shirts and pillows while self-desprecating about fried chicken in general. The brand has been taken to ‘quirky territory’ by its agencies. It may be time for KFC management to exert a little more control.

McDonalds too has set up an online store. They have their own pillow along with a host of other stuff that will soon find their way into your next garage sale. The items are novel and super well conceptualized but faddish.

Now JetBlue has its own store of branded products. The marketing insight was to remind (or shame) business travellers to take a vacation. It takes a page from NBC’s The Office TV program but the kitschy gear is just not that funny. A decent idea but not well executed.

I love the analog tactics, I really do. What all three have missed is they would get more buzz, loyalty and marketing investment return if they found cool ways to honour new consumers and faithful ones by giving this merchandise away rather than setting up e-commerce sites. All of these are fleeting P.R. campaigns when they could be part of a sustained loyalty program.

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