Promo Items: Never Having To Say You’re Sorry

Around our house we have a saying, "Use Your Powers For Good." It’s meant to suggest that IF you happen to have super powers, you should focus on doing just good things with them. It’s not a bad idea if you have promotional products super powers, either. Perhaps you heard about the kerfuffle this week in minor league baseball. If ESPN was doing a countdown on SportsCenter for worst use of a promo idea ever, the Port Charlotte, FL, Class "A" team would top the list with "A-Rod Juice Box Night."

The Tampa Bay affiliate planned to have a little fun at the expense of a Yankees affiliate team by giving away 500 boxes decorated with the text "100% juiced," "tainted records," "inflated ego," and “Hall of Fame Omission.” The references, of course, were to Alex Rodriguez, who served a Major League Baseball drug suspension for all of the 2014 season.

There are a lot of good choices to make to positively promote the brand of the home team, or any company for that matter, but this certainly wasn’t one of them. Class "A" is a long way from the major leagues to choose something so negative in tone. Once the Yankees found out about the plan, they called the Charlotte front office, and contacted the commissioner of baseball to protest. The issue of whether or not Rodriguez, currently fourth on the all-time home run list, took performance enhancing drugs was not going to be settled by passing out 500 juice boxes, and I can't imagine anybody actually thinking the idea was remotely funny. By not putting a little more thought on sourcing ideas, the Charlotte Stone Crabs were the ones with, ahem, juice unattractively dribbling down the front of their uniforms.

The event was canceled and the team issued an embarrassed apology. "On behalf of our entire organization I apologize to the New York Yankees, our affiliate club the Tampa Bay Rays, and all fans who may have taken offense," Stone Crabs general manager Jared Forma said in a statement.

Use your powers for good.

Switching gears a bit, I want to share some groundbreaking news from the board of directors of the Quality Certification Alliance. In 2012, the non-profit supplier organization created the Distributor Advocacy Council as a way to work more collaboratively with distributors. This week, the directors announced that they had taken an even larger step to enhance the cooperation and communication between accredited suppliers and the 13 members of the DAC. Jon Levine, president of The Image Group, has been added to the QCA Board’s marketing committee, becoming the first distributor representative to serve on any QCA committee. "I am committed to help our industry understand the benefits we all derive from working with QCA accredited suppliers, and why that is important to our organizations and our clients. We all know there are risks associated with product that has been manufactured by suppliers without a focus on compliance. We need the whole industry to see the value proposition of compliant goods, and quickly move every organization to adopt standards that mitigate the risk of a catastrophic incident. My role will be to help develop a communication strategy to the Distributor community outlining this value proposition."

Congratulations to Jon; I know he will speak both with the voice of distributors and the end user clients. Speaking of accredited suppliers, The Magnet Group was added this week, bringing the number of active QCA certified suppliers to 34. "It was extremely important for our customers, our company, and our collective peace of mind to achieve the QCA accreditation. The path was long and at times challenging, but the process and end result for our customers was worth every minute. We are thrilled!" said Bill Korowitz, CEO and owner of The Magnet Group.

So, how about you? Are you going to use your powers for good, work more cooperatively with your vendors, and be thrilled with the results? It just seems like the best way to go.

Jeff Jacobs has been an expert in building brands and brand stewardship for more than 30 years. He’s a staunch advocate of consumer product safety and has a deep passion and belief regarding the issues surrounding compliance and corporate social responsibility. He is the executive director of Quality Certification Alliancethe industry’s only non-profit dedicated to helping suppliers provide safe and compliant products. Follow Jeff on Twitteror reach out to him at [email protected](link sends e-mail).​

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