Bespoke Plush Toys Make Great Promotional Giveaways

From the British & Irish Lions Rugby Union cuddly Lion mascot to 2012’s Wenlock and Mandeville, bespoke plush toys make great bespoke promotional giveaways, in 1966 we had World Cup Willie and in 2016 the BPMA used Ellie the Elephant who joined me on my Lands End to John O’Groats charity cycle ride.

Promotional plush toys

Mascots make great Bespoke Plush Toys

In one form or another mascots have been around for longer than you’d think. In fact the word mascot – from the French mascotte or lucky charm – was first used in English in the 1880s and quickly came to mean a good luck animal associated with a sporting club.

At first these would be live animals who would parade on the pitch, but increasingly they were replaced by the costumed characters we all know and love. These date from the 1960s, when World Cup Willie showed England the way to victory in the Football World Cup.

From Smokey the Scottish terrier with his mascot coat to the unforgettable Mischa the Bear, mascots have been endearing, unique and sometimes downright weird, but their ability to act as a beloved ambassador for a team or an event make them an invaluable promotional product for your company or charity event.

If you’re a follower of rugby you’ll know that BIL is the bespoke plush lion mascot for the British & Irish Lions rugby union on tour in New Zealand this year, and poor old Maro Itoje as the youngest player on tour has the responsibility of looking after him, while his team mates do their best to hide him from him!

Maro Itoje with Lions Mascot BIL

The Emotional Connection

Mascots are now big business for manufacturers of collectibles and memorabilia, and several – like the yellow lion bespoke plush toy given to winners at the Tour de France – are highly sought after. It was also announced this week that the Women’s Tour, the British cycling race that attracts the best riders in the world, would hand out their very own cuddly toy mascot. These instantly recognisable giveaways make for ‘must have’ marketing, even though you’d have to win a stage in one of the sport’s toughest men’s or women’s events to qualify!

But why do mascots work? Through familiarity. If you’re a football fan you grow up with your team’s mascot who can make you laugh and cry as your team faces triumph or defeat. In some way, mascots stand for something bigger than the sport – the Tour de France lion embodies all the qualities of courage, determination and discipline that a Grand champion cyclist needs. It’s a stretch to say that your plush toys will carry that kind of weight, but they definitely add value when used in a marketing context, conveying a sense of worth beyond their cost.

So why are plush toys such an endearing giveaway at sporting events? After all, they’re hardly macho and they don’t obey one of the prime rules of promotional products, that they be useful. But what plush toys do beautifully, and what makes them so covetable, is that they provoke an instant emotional response in the recipient which can help to create a positive impression of your brand.

Make it Your Own

The Credit Lyonnais Lion has been going strong since 1987, and even though the lion is no longer the bank’s symbol and they threatened to replace the cuddly lion with a trophy last year, good sense has prevailed.

There’s something completely exclusive about this particular giveaway that you can emulate if you spend some time getting your plush toy mascot right and customising their look.

Whether you design your mascot from scratch or simply add a scarf with a logo, the scope for creating a plush giveaway that reflects your business is huge. Create even greater ownership by encouraging your staff, or children at a local school, to get involved in designing your new business or charity mascot.

Better yet, your plush promotional item is unlikely to get left in the hotel room like your printed pen might. Even if the recipient isn’t a fan of plush toys, the chances are they know someone who is and who will be delighted to receive your plush mascot, thus giving your promotional product lasting power and your brand impression greater reach.

You’re not just exposing your brand to the original recipient but to everyone they come into contact with. So whether you’re plush promotional mascot sits on a desk or becomes a child’s favourite plaything, it’s creating impressions wherever it goes.

The Plush Fundraiser

If you’re promoting a good cause and using a charity sports event to raise money, then a plush toy can make an excellent fundraiser. It’s something that people are happy to take away in return for a donation yet will act as a lasting reminder of the good cause they contributed to. Obviously, a mascot makes sense for a sporting fundraiser and can then be reflected on a smaller scale in a plush toy, however strange they look – remember 2012 and how popular Wenlock and Mandeville were?

Low Cost, High Impact

Plush promotional items are a unique add on for any marketing campaign, helping you stand out from the crowd and gain a useful competitive edge.

Never underestimate the power of collectibles, with Beanie Babies and even Happy Meal toys selling for small fortunes. Promotional giveaways help you generate the kind of ‘must have’ buzz of more expensive campaigns and often outstrips them in terms of reach and retention.

One of the attractions of promotional products is their success as a low cost advertising medium with a big RoI that showcases your brand at an affordable price. A well chosen product, whether it’s a printed pen, branded powerbank or collectible plush, is the gift that really does keep on giving.

So Why do Bespoke Plush Toys work?

58% of all promotional products are kept for anywhere up to 4 years, according to a PPAI survey. If your bespoke plush toys were only to get looked at once a week that’s over 200 impressions, and you can multiply those out according to number of mascots and the fact that you’re likely to keep a cute plush item on display.

The PPAI also found that a good promotional product not only creates a positive impression of your business, but impacts positively on recommendations and customer loyalty, and what better product to create that emotional connection than a cute plush that has value and appeal across the generations.

If you want to create a promotional campaign that generates buzz far beyond its target market, then you need to consider promotional products and plush mascots as part of your marketing strategy.

To find out more about developing bespoke plush toys or mascots to help you communicate your message & build relationships with your target audience call Sussex Promotions, The Promotional Product Experts on 01273 651072 or visit the web site.


Inspired by Retail Merchandise at Kruger National Park.

Over half-term week I visited South Africa and went on Safari, I stayed on a private game reserve but mid-way through the week we accepted the offer of a trip to the world famous Kruger National Park where I was Inspired by Retail Merchandise.

During the day we stopped at a camp and visited a retail outlet and of course we were hit by printed merchandise which got my interest.

Dye Sublimation Mugs

Of course out in the Kruger they have stunning imagery to work with and sadly campaigns to promote, in particular saving the Rhino against poachers, 2 of these beautiful animals are poached from Kruger EVERY day.

Tragic. Why? Because Chinese culture believes Rhino horn is a powerful aphrodisiac, as someone who bites their nails I can assure you as an aphrodisiac it’s absolutely useless and these buyers of Rhino horn would be far better off with Viagra but apparently that message is yet to be understood. Sadly time is running out.

Jute Bags

I digress!

I was Inspired by Retail Merchandise with two things:

  1. How good merchandise can be at supporting a campaign, be the objective raising awareness or fund raising or both
  2. How so many marketers and business people would enjoy wandering through this shop, be inspired by retail merchandise, possibly purchase some gifts for taking home but not see the connection that they can create the same feel good factor around their own brand if they create a story and a visual storyboard that engages their audience
Canvas Tote Bags

Everything that was available within this retail environment is available to the business, community, charity and education sectors.

Through product selection and decoration, through colour, material and imagery – desirable, useful gifts are being purchased at a premium by tourists and visitors in their thousands.

But exactly the same product mix, or a different product mix that better targets the needs and desires of any audience can be created and branded by any marketer to promote their business, community group, charity or school.

Mugs & Bottles – Save the Rhino

How will it make the customer feel?

But where such an approach is different to so many other marketing pillars available within the marketing mix is how it makes a customer (or prospect) feel.

We buy products from a tourist shop as holiday gifts for friends & family and just as we feel on our birthday and at Christmas we enjoy receiving a gift.

You can make your customers’ experience that same emotion through the use of business gifts, through decorating useful, desirable items in an interesting way and offering as a thank you gift or Christmas present.

Now you might not make much impact with a 25p pen but even then I guarantee the recipient will stay say “thank you!”

There is minimal emotional engagement with ads, web sites, emails, direct mail but through promotional products it is possible to engage the customer through all of their senses:

Merchandise engages with the customers’ senses

Taste – promotional chocolates, sweets and mints

Touch – all product requires a sense of touch

Sound – bang bang sticks, click-it tins, speakers, headphones, sound chips etc.

Sight – full colour printing is now available across almost all product categories, standard white product can be converted to visually stunning pieces

Smell – scratch & sniff, scented items etc.

Marketing Ninjas

Promotional products, business gifts, branded merchandise, printed mugs and pens ….whatever best describes your need – these items are the Marketing Ninjas of the promotional mix.

That mug, pen, mouse mat, coaster, key ring, phone holder, phone stand, wrist rest, drinking glass, stapler, highlighter, umbrella, cap, fleece, gilet that you use TODAY, that is someone’s Marketing Ninja.

They gave you that product and you said “thank you,” it was an unexpected gift, you liked the look & feel, it was useful and you were grateful.

And every time you use that item you see that logo, subconsciously your brain sees that company, that brand, that sales person, that exhibition stand, that product and just reminds you..

do you need some more? do you need another? do you need something else? Have you visited the web site? Wouldn’t you love to go there again? I must tell Andy about that….. etc etc..

Silently the Marketing Ninja just hangs around, on the desk, in the car, on the back of the chair, on the bedside table….communicating without disturbing – no phone call, no email just there, reminding.

Inspired by Retail Merchandise, what next?

Like all marketing, promotional products needs some time, investment and a strategy. We don’t send an email without thinking of the headline, the content, the audience and the call to action, the follow-up and the what’s next. And so it should be with merchandise. WHO are we gifting, WHY are we gifting, HOW are we gifting, WHAT are we gifting, WHEN are we gifting is a good start, and if you have some pictures of your product with a Rhino in the background with a setting sun that will be even better!


Branded Easter Eggs – make your customer smile!

Easter Sunday is March 31st giving you five weeks to execute a great marketing activity for your best customers. Chocolate and right now Branded Easter Eggs are a sure fire winner for about 95% of the population. It’s just a great feel good treat that apart from those still on their New Year diets are going to love!

Branded Easter Eggs

The traditional Branded Easter Egg box is available in a range of different sizes, but a fully bespoke Easter Egg box printed full colour to your exact specification and brand is available from as little as 100 pieces.

If well packed in secondary packaging the Branded Easter Eggs might survive the postal system, but probably best for hand delivery or a real treat for visitors to your exhibition stand this March/April.

Branded Easter Egg Boxes

What’s the first things any customer or prospect asks at a meeting, “Fancy a Cuppa?” just imagine the ice breaking when you reply with “Sure! and I’ve brought you an Easter Egg!”

Alternative Chocolate Promotional Products

There are lots of alternative chocolate promotional products some of which will make a terrific item of lumpy mail, better for mailing through its shape & weight.

See Andrew talking through some alternatives in our video below:

Alternatively, a printed mug actually makes a surprisingly good mailing as there are good, tried and tested mailing cartons available that will protect the mug and ensure it arrives in one piece.

Add chocolate to the mug & packaging and you have the perfect Easter promotion, create a little happiness with chocolate but also hang around with the long lasting printed promotional mug that could be used for months, if not years, but always have that subconscious feel good link to the chocolate that was inside it!

We’re at the end of winter, Easter marks the start of spring, a busy business quarter ahead before the summer, a great time to kick start 2013 and shake-off those winter blues.

Andrew Nash is Managing Director of Sussex Promotions, your one stop shop for all promotional items including sweets and chocolates.

If you have a comment about promo chocolates, branded Easter Eggs or lumpy mail we’d love to hear from you – please use the section below!