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ASI Promocar- Pennsylvania Welcomes You

Filed under: Fun, Uncategorized

Guest blogger Dawn Marie is ASI’s PR manager and creator and driver of the ASI Promocar, part of a year-long PR campaign to drive attention to the promo products industry.


The ASI Promocar finished its eight-day cross-country promotional tour this week, traveling a total of 3,144 miles across 13 states, with stops in eight cities and towns, featuring a countless number of personal encounters (extraterrestrial and otherwise).

Everywhere the #ASIpromocar stopped throughout ASI’s “Driving Serious Fun” PR campaign, people took photos of the promo-covered car and asked questions, leading to innumerable conversations about the high-impact value of promotional items and the $21.5 billion ad specialty industry.

And since everyone loves free stuff, we also gave away a trunkful of logoed giveaways, along with Promocar T-shirts, to remember us by.

The point of driving a moving billboard across America was simple: to motivate end-users to consider advertising with promo products the next time they need to get the word out. Throughout the trip, reactions were overwhelmingly positive.

The Promocar made people smile, laugh, wave and give a thumbs up, at truck stops, rest areas, restaurants, tourist attractions and especially along on the open road (by passengers, not drivers).

The Promocar also garnered its shared of press coverage, from a story in the Los Angeles Times (daily readership: 1.5 million) to a photo in Arkansas’ Press Argus-Courier (circ. 4,300).

I know some industry people (and co-workers) think the Promocar is silly, but I challenge them to produce a better conversation starter – or advertising vehicle. Instead of dismissing the freebies glued to the car, people marveled at their staying power (we lost a total of six lightweight items). Viewers were also keen on the wide variety of giveaways decorating the 2002 Mazda, inside and out, from standards like logoed pens and keychains all the way to branded touch gloves and USBs.

At a time when so many of us bury our faces in our devices, or communicate strictly electronically, it was wonderful to meet face-to-face with people of all ages, races and occupations. That kind of personal interaction is a big part of why ASI continues to host brick-and-mortar trade shows across the country. It works!

Every chance we got during the Promocar trip, we pitched the value of promo products – usually in response to the question “Why’d you do that to your car?”  It always felt more like a friendly chat than a sales pitch, which I think made it more effective.

My co-pilot and I enjoyed innumerable moments during our mad dash across America, driving six to 13 hours a day, stopping each night in a different city or small town, from Flagstaff, AZ to tiny Floyd, VA. We met hundreds of warm, wonderful people and saw an amazing assortment of weird, wacky roadside attractions. Below are a few of our favorite encounters:

  • Best promotional giveaway: The logoed $100 “bills” given away by Big Texan Steak Ranch, a Rt. 66 landmark in Amarillo that’s famous for also giving away a 72-oz. steak dinner to anyone who can eat the entire thing in one hour. Runner up: Cool matches given away by Tune-Up restaurant in Santa Fe, N.M.
  • Best interview: “The Freebie Man” interviewed at Graceland (this mad fan for promo products refused to pay admission, opting for a free look over the mansion wall). Runner up: Asheville, N.C. photographer Eric Wilson and his adorable, bunny-eared children, at the Biltmore Estate on Easter.
  • Best coincidence: Crossing paths with four random strangers who said “ASI! I know ASI!”
  • Best calendar: Café Pasqual’s in Santa Fe, N.M., featuring gorgeous art work.
  • Best T-shirt: Sun Studio in Memphis, TN.
  • Best radio: “Nights with Alice Cooper” radio program (yes, that Alice Cooper). Runner up: KZKE 103.3 out of Seligman, AZ. The rock classics kept us awake during a late-night power drive.
  • Best item glued to the ASI Promocar: Stress balls. They refused to come off. Even the one glued with GE Silicon II nearly a year ago to the tip of the antennae remains firmly in place. Runner up: Logoed slinkys, which kids especially loved.
  • Best autograph: The Chinese characters from C.K., of the China Auto Sports Club (CASC).We invited everyone to sign the Promocar because who wouldn’t want to sign a car?
  • Best roadside attraction: Cadillac Ranch near Amarillo, TX. Ten Caddys buried nose-deep in the ground, featuring free admission. Runner up: Wigwam Village Motel in Holbrook, AZ, a town also home to an odd array of giant roadside dinosaurs and raptors.
  • Best rest stop: Dinesphere Space Station Restaurant, aka Golf Ball House, Arizona Death Star or Area 66, in Yucca, AZ. Runner up: Any of the Love’s Travel Stops – each one we visited was clean, convenient and featured really nice clerks, even at 2 a.m.
  • Best mass commercial appeal: Graceland, home of the King himself, Elvis Presley. Runner up: Seriously? No one does it better than Graceland.
  • Best route: Interstate 40, from California to North Carolina, which parallels or overlays historic U.S. Route 66. Easy traveling, fairly well maintained, simple on/off, little traffic, great attractions.

Final Promocar story:

In Virginia, a stern-faced man approaches, looking like he wants to take a swing at us or report us to the local police. Instead, he shocks us by pulling out his camera and saying, “It’s beautiful. Beautiful. All the signs and stuff. It’s neat.”

Pointing to the antique ceramic Hawaiian ukulele man glued to the dashboard (the Promocar’s mascot, Bobby, so named because he bob, bob, bobbed along the entire drive), the man adds, “I really like that little man in there bouncing around. Makes it look good.”

When we tell him we expect to arrive home in N.J. the next day he says firmly, “You’ll make it.”

Except for one flat tire, we did – without incident and after enjoying the goodwill and encouragement of a ton of well-wishing strangers. The ASI Promocar certainly won’t change the world or go viral. But it made a lot of people smile and gave any number of road-weary travelers something else to write home about – and to remember us by.

I’ll take it.

–Dawn Marie

ASI Promocar – Walmart to the Rescue!

Filed under: Uncategorized

Guest blogger Dawn Marie is ASI’s PR manager and creator and driver of the ASI Promocar, part of a year-long PR campaign to drive attention to the promo products industry.

When the rear tire on a Mazda Protégé with over 193,000 miles on it starts to seriously lose air on Easter morning in Asheville, NC and AAA basically tells you “good luck finding someplace open on a holiday Sunday,” you might begin to despair.

But I wasn’t about to let the 2,700-mile ASI Promocar trip come to a grinding halt when it was a mere four states from home after traveling three-quarters of the way across the entire US of A. Thankfully, things were mighty slow in the mini mart where we tried to patch things up with some air. “I bet Walmart can help you,” said the clerk observing the unanswered phone calls and ever-growing angst in my eyes.

The megastore came to the rescue. The Mazda limped into the Bleachery Boulevard superstore and the mechanics on duty – Tristan, Jarrod and Donald – fairly jumped at the chance to help us. First, however, they had to take pictures and ask what in heck we were doing.

In fact, Donald was so attentive that when he changed the punctured tire he used a black sharpie to color in the white spaces so the Promocar tire matched the others three paint-spattered ones. He wanted our car to look pretty as possible and we were mighty grateful (forgive me – but when you drive the South you start to say things like “mighty grateful” as naturally as we say “back off!” up North.

Thanks to Walmart, we were back on the trail in less than an hour, after adding three more names to the ever-growing community of Promocar fans.

Go, Promocar, go!

–Dawn Marie

ASI Promocar – Easter Sunday Fun

Filed under: Uncategorized

Guest blogger Dawn Marie is ASI’s PR manager and creator and driver of the ASI Promocar, part of a year-long PR campaign to drive attention to the promo products industry.

The sight of this crazy-colored car, covered inside and out with an array of promo products, makes a lot of people smile, no matter their age, sex or station in life. Cowboys. Muslims. Bearded old men. Religious zealots. Hot girls in crop tops. Bikers. Aging hippies. Self-conscious teens too cool for school. And kids. Especially kids.

They don’t care about the why of it; they just want to enjoy the wow of it.

“This is my lucky day,” says the pint-sized son of an Asheville, NC photographer we met in the parking lot of the Biltmore Estate on Easter Sunday, where hundreds of people dressed in their finest converged for the annual egg roll at the grandiose 19th century tourist attraction, complete with six-foot costumed bunny rabbit.

The little boy posed with his brother, their bunny ears and baskets, smiling to beat the band. They kept pulling on the items glued to the Promocar, unable to believe they were actually stuck to a car.

We enjoyed their enthusiasm so much we gave them balls, sunglasses and clackers. If I could have I would’ve given them the moon.

–Dawn Marie

ASI Promocar – Rockin’ N Rollin’ Through Arkansas

Filed under: Uncategorized

Guest blogger Dawn Marie is ASI’s PR manager and creator and driver of the ASI Promocar, part of a year-long PR campaign to drive attention to the promo products industry.

The Press Argus-Courier is an award-winning newspaper in Van Buren, Arkansas that happens to be the state’s oldest weekly newspaper, tracing its roots all the way back to 1858.

Thursday, we got to meet the paper’s chief reporter, Taniah Tudor, who kindly took photos and learned the story of ASI’s moving billboard.  In turn, we shared recent Advantages magazine stats on Arkansas’s contribution to the promotional products industry: $190 million for 2014, a 3% growth from 2013.

We were in Arkansas as part of ASI’s year-long “Driving Serious Fun” PR campaign, traveling 2,700 miles in a car covered inside and out with promo products to “drive” (get it?) attention to the $21.5 billion ad specialty industry.

We were preparing to leave near-by Fort Smith, an Old West town in the heart of the Ozark just shy of the Oklahoma border, when a tattooed man charged the ASI Promocar, yelling “I gotta sign your guitar!”

Guitar? What guitar? Then I realized he was gesturing at a guitar-shaped stress ball glued to inside of the driver’s side door, one of hundreds of promotional items covering the 2002 Mazda. In Arkansas, the car did its trick, grabbing the attention of the reporter and the tattooed man, who turned out to be rising country star, Michael Mandella, just arrived from Memphis with a friend who recognized the ASI logo covering every inch of the crazy car. Turns out, the friend is a screen printer who’s very familiar with promo products.

After signing the mini guitar, Mandella gave us our second promotional gift of the tour – his latest CD, “American Outlaw,” which he’s giving away to everyone he meets to drum up business for his brand, “The Music Man.” Like millions of rockers everywhere, Mandella was also proudly sporting his own “American Outlaw” T-shirt.

The songs on his CD (including “I’m Gonna Miss You a Lot” and “Big Damn Star”), we learned, “tell of the human experience in a way that conveys honest emotion as well as unwavering hope for a better tomorrow.”

Whatever! His giveaway did the trick: We listened to it throughout a bright, moon-lit night as we cruised Interstate 40, dodging fast-moving tractor-trailers in our zippy little car, crossing from one end of Arkansas (“the natural state”) to the other, into Tennessee.

Next stop: Graceland. What are the chances we’ll see promotional items at the world’s most famous rock ‘n’ roll residence? Elvis, here we come.

–Dawn Marie

ASI Promocar – Cruisin’ California

Filed under: Uncategorized

Guest blogger Dawn Marie is ASI’s PR manager and creator and driver of the ASI Promocar, part of a year-long PR campaign to drive attention to the promo products industry.

If anything, California is a study in contrasts. Its poverty rate is 23.5%, highest of any state in the country. Homeless are everywhere. And then you drive through Malibu, where oceanfront bungalows that look an awful lot like gussied up storage containers sell for a cool $22 mill.

Cruising Pacific Coast Highway – past the American Apparel store – we pull into a surfer’s lot next to an ancient van painted in camouflage, where an old woman in a housedress rests in the passenger seat.  Spying the #ASIpromocar, her shirtless son pops over for a chat.

“Us artists, we gotta stick together,” he says, proudly showing me his home-made promo hat, which he fashioned out of straw and plastic in honor of his beloved LA. “I bring my mom here every day. She’s got a brain tumor and I take care of her now.”

Within 15 minutes, we’ve given away three “Driving Serious Fun” T-shirts (the slogan for the year-long PR campaign the Promocar was designed around to drive attention to the promo products industry), a couple of logoed footballs and a handful of clackers, which little kids love.

“It’s free?” everyone asks. “You bet,” I get to answer.

To me, that’s the very heart of this $21.5 billion industry – the simple, powerful idea that everybody loves free stuff. Especially when it’s useful. Or just plain fun.

–Dawn Marie

ASI Promocar – A Night In Los Angeles

Filed under: Uncategorized

Guest blogger Dawn Marie is ASI’s PR manager and creator and driver of the ASI Promocar, part of a year-long PR campaign to drive attention to the promo products industry.

Driving a car covered in a riot of multi-colored promo products is tricky enough. Driving it on the infamous LA freeways, which are littered with metal carcasses from vehicular mishaps (along with the occasional flattened coyote) is a whole different experience. Every time someone beeps at me, my first instinct is to respond like the NYC driver I once was and flash the finger. Then I remember I’m driving a company car and people are beeping to say “Fun!” At least that’s what I tell myself.

Once I survived Interstate 5 and U.S. 101, the next hurdle for the ASI Promocar (#ASIpromocar) was winding, twisting Laurel Canyon Boulevard to Lookout Mountain and my eventual destination: a hilltop AirBnB rental high above LA with a view of the Pacific Ocean. Once I started climbing up, up, up I understood why every Californian at the ASI Long beach trade show where the Promocar was on display last week — as part of a year-long PR campaign to “drive” attention to the $21.5 billion #promoproducts industry — shook their heads when I told them it was a 5-speed and said, “You poor thing.”

But the 2002 Mazda Protégé performed like a champ, quivering slinkys and all. Following my stern GPS lady, now nicknamed Milly, I was doing fine, when I could stop gawking at the incredible houses, where I imagined Madonna behind every door. Then, Milly insisted “right on Sunset Plaza Dr.” — which was marked with numerous large signs warning me against entering because “street withdrawn from public use.” I pictured armed guards with earpieces and Uzis rushing the Promocar and yelling “Halt! This is a swag-free zone!”

Thankfully, a beautiful blonde surfer dude came to my rescue, explaining the hoi polloi erected the signs to prevent teenagers from congregating there to enjoy the views and neck. “Are you going to an event at one of the big houses?,” he said, eying the Promocar and I’m sure imagining what kind of wild LA bash would require stress balls and little foam figures. “Just looking for my night’s lodging,” I replied.

Then, he did something I didn’t expect in a million years. Gave me directions and his card and told me if I had any trouble finding the house, or if I needed you anything at all, to call him. “I love your car,” he said. “I’m from San Francisco and we have art cars everywhere. It’s great to see one here.”

I love LA.

–Dawn Marie

Why Facebook Page’s Like Totals Dropped And How You Can Find Out How Many

Filed under: Uncategorized

By Vincent Driscoll, ASI

If you’re like me and manage a Facebook business page, you might’ve noticed a “small dip” in your overall Page Likes recently. According to Facebook, the drop in Likes is due to the removal of memorialized (deceased) and voluntarily deactivated accounts from your page. The vanishing Likes aren’t legit anyway, says the social media giant, and will result in better consistency and business results going forward.

Ok, but how do Page Admins calculate this loss?

My business page — Advertising Specialty Institute — which has been active since 2009 and has over 7,000 Likes, lost 165 Likes or just around 2%. How do I know this? I found out the total number by downloading an Excel spreadsheet from the Insights tab of my Facebook Page, like so:

  • Go to your Facebook Business Page
  • Click on the Insights tab above your cover photo
  • In the upper-right, you’ll see an “Export” menu item – click that
  • Select “Page Data” for the month of March; File Format should be Excel, then click Export Data
  • Open Excel spreadsheets from your downloads and look at the tab called “Key Metrics”
  • In Column B you’ll see “Lifetime Total Likes” – this is where you should see some inexplicable Like drops (see image above) that cannot be accounted for in Column D’s “Daily Unlikes” (not shown)
  • Subtract the two, minus any Daily Unlikes for that day, and the difference will be your drop in Page Likes (I had 1 Daily Unlike during this time)

For my Page, the drop in Likes happened between March 6 and March 7 even though Facebook claims the drops will be after March 12. I’m sure it’s just a general date when you’re dealing with millions of Business Pages, so it might be different depending on your page.

However, the amount, though small, is not accounted for in the analytics. So what does that mean? It means that if you track Page Likes for your company, like me, you will now have to factor the loss into your future stats. Two percent may not seem like a lot, but if you’re tracking to a goal it could mean the difference between success and failure.

And for those of you who have yet to see a drop, it might not even have happened yet … so keep your eyes open!

PS – If you’ve noticed any discrepancies in your Page Likes, let us know how many by posting below!

Get to Know ASI’s Joe Haley

Filed under: Fun, General, Uncategorized


From Intern to Internet Superstar, Joe Haley Celebrates 20 Years with ASI

You might know him from watching The Joe Show, listening to ASI Radio, or teaching at an ASI Show, but did you know that Joe Haley is celebrating his 20th anniversary with ASI?  Find out how he went from the world’s oldest intern to managing editor.

Q:What is your title and job description?
JH:I am the managing editor for the Editorial Department. I manage three publications; Stitches, Wearables and SGR, where I work with the editors, the designers, and the production team to make sure the magazines come out on time and with no errors.  I shoot editorial videos plus a semiweekly video program, The Joe Show, where I showcase supplier products.  I am also one of the hosts on the ASI Radio Show, among other things.

Q:What do you like about your position?
JH:I like that it is different every day. From day to day and sometimes from hour to hour, it completely changes and there is always something new and different to do.  It’s also a really fun industry and a fun company to work for. They have treated me well over the years.

Q:What was your position when you first started?
JH:I started out at ASI as the world’s oldest intern. I lost my job because of the recession; I had just bought a house and we had a baby on the way.  I kept seeing an advertisement for an Internship with ASI, but I had no idea what ASI or this industry was. I knew I should apply for the position because I was trying to get into journalism, which is what I have my degree in, and I couldn’t get a job in it because I didn’t have any work experience. ASI called me in for an interview and I ended up being late for it because I was up until 6 AM shoveling snow with my landscaping job and then I made a wrong turn getting there. I did end up getting the internship which started in mid-July and they offered me a position shortly thereafter.

Q:How have your job responsibilities change over the years?
JH:At that time we only had three magazines; Counselor, Specialty Selling Today and Imprint. I wrote for all the publications. I was interviewing people, writing articles, and doing research. Over time I worked my way up to higher positions. I always accepted addition work, any time there was an opportunity to do something I would do it. It’s like anything else, if you put in the effort and you work hard, hopefully you get recognized and you get more responsibility. I went from an intern, to assistant editor, to associate editor, to production editor to managing editor … and the rest is history.

Q:How has ASI changed over the years?
JH:When I first started with ASI we had the old computers where you needed a floppy disk to boot it up and to save your files on.  We didn’t even have the Internet. Later on, each department was allowed to have one computer with the Internet on it, ours was with the editor in chief, and if we wanted to do any type of research we would have to go into her office to use it. I didn’t even have a cubicle when I first started. I had a table outside of a cubicle, and the department’s printer was on the other side of me, so any time someone had to print something they would come over to where I was working.

Q:How would your colleagues describe you?
JH:Loud … no just kidding. I think they would say I have a good sense of humor, that I am dedicated to my job, I’m a team player, and I’m creative.

Q:What is something that people don’t know about you?
JH:I have been coaching soccer since 1989; it’s something that I love to do. In the year 2000, I was named the Intermural Coach of the Year for the state of Pennsylvania. Then I joined the State of the Associates coaching staff where I created a soccer program for our club that the state still uses as a model.

Q:If you could be a promotional product what would you be?
JH:I would be a light up ice cube. Those are a lot of fun.

Q:If your story here were to be made into a movie, who would you want to play you?
JH:My coworker Joan Chaykin always says I remind her of Richard Dreyfuss, so I would say him. I guess anyone who has curly hair and wears glasses.

Fore more, Click Here

– Interview by Lauren Medina

Sales Tip of the Week – Connecting with Clients

Filed under: Fun, General, Sales Tip, Uncategorized

calendarHow can you stay in front of clients to add value and connect with them on new business?  Check out these tips from Advantages magazine.

Set appointments to review events and promotions your clients held last year and bring ideas for new ones. Set up a year-long schedule with them for follow-up and reminders about upcoming events and initiatives.

Sales Tip of the Week – Features vs. Benefits

Filed under: Uncategorized

benefitsToo many businesses accentuate the features of their products or services rather than the benefits, which are what your clients really care about.

Benefits are value statements about the features of a product or service, with an emphasis on what the customer gets.  For example, “Open 24 Hours” is a feature. The benefit is that the business will be open whenever the customer needs it. Or say you’ve been in the promotional products business for 20 years. That is a feature. The benefit for your clients is the experience, working knowledge, and years of training that result from your length of time in the business.

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