Monthly Archives: March 2011

ASI Promotional Show Comes to NYC

Last week, the Advertising Specialty Institute (ASI) promotional show made its annual stop at the Jacob Javits Center, just a few blocks from Vanguard’s NY office. The ASI is one of the largest associations for the promotional products industry. Giving promotional products is an easy, inexpensive way for organizations to reward customers with items that have their branding on them.

The ASI holds several shows in different cities across the country to keep everyone in the industry clued in on what businesses are using to promote themselves. Vanguard Direct has been in the promotional products business for most of the last decade, and we are still growing.

Since we strive to stay on the cutting edge of all facets of our business, we send people to this show every year to stay up to date on the latest trends. From traditional items like mugs and stickers to more unusual items like temporary tattoos, there were products at the ASI show for every business.

This is a great way for Vanguard’s employees to be able to come back to our clients with the most in-demand items or to come up with new, unique ways to advertise their organizations. Vanguard Direct has a fully staffed promotional department, and this is one of the many things we do to maintain our expertise.

How is your organization using promotional products to promote itself?


Seven Years of Crispin Porter & Bogusky and Burger King: Crispin’s 15 Best Campaigns for Burger King

After seven years of working together, Burger King and MDC Partners-owned agency Crispin Porter & Bogusky are going their separate ways. There is no explanation for the split!

A joint statement announced: “Burger King Corp. and Crispin Porter & Bogusky have enjoyed a tremendously successful relationship over the past seven and a half years. During that time, our creative partnership resulted in countless innovative and engaging campaigns for the BK brand. We are incredibly proud of all that we have accomplished together, but have mutually decided that now is the right time to part ways. We are fans of each other’s work and wish each other much success in the future.”

Crispin Porter & Bogusky and Burger King made many provocative campaigns that helped bring in a new era of advertising. The approach, however, never quite proved its worth. Burger King has been cutting back on its marketing budget slightly over the past three years. It spent $301 million on domestic measured media in 2010, down from $308 million in 2009 and $327 million in 2008. Also, the company recently reported a 3.7 percent downturn in global same-store sales for the fourth quarter, including a 5.8 percent drop at its stores in the United States and Canada.

Did Burger King’s ad agency change come as a result of slow sales? While Burger King searches for a new agency to replace Crispin Porter & Bogusky, its lead creative shop since 2004, enjoy Crispin’s 15 best campaigns for Burger King.

Author: Marina Kaljaj

Has Desktop Publishing Deteriorated Graphic Design?

Today if you ask prepress technicians what percentage of files they receive are “print ready,” they will most likely say something around one percent! While alarming, this number is not that far off. I can remember when I sat in that chair and experienced the same thing. One month we decided to do a test and mark down every file that came in. It was a simple evaluation: either the file was OK to print or needed changes. Ironically it wasn’t until the last week of the month, on Friday afternoon, that we received a file––our very last in the test––that was perfect! What this proved to me was that nearly every file that comes in needs some sort of change before it can hit the printing plates. Now that last sentence is telling. We were working at a shop that was primarily traditional offset litho. Some may argue that any file can be printed digitally, and they are not too far off, but why should we accept subpar file structure?

John Carew wrote last Tuesday about image quality and how we as a society are accepting low-quality images because of their ease of use. This theory is directly related to my discussion of subpar file structure. Desktop publishing has basically given anyone who owns a computer the ability to become a graphic designer. Although desktop publishing represents a great technological advance, it has diluted industry standards. You can basically track back to the widespread adoption of Microsoft products (Word, Publisher, PowerPoint, and Excel) and see the overall quality of graphic design deteriorate. It has forced our industry to accept files in any program available and puts the onus on us to make them work. God forbid that what a client designed on screen in Word doesnt match what comes off the press.

Basically what this all boils down to is industry-specific education and client management. We as industry professionals have to educate our clients on best practices. We must let them know when we have to make changes to their files and tell them what it’s going to cost. Accepting files in Word and fixing them for free without telling the client isn’t doing anyone justice. We as manufacturers are losing out on revenue, and the clients are thinking that everything is OK and will continue making the same mistakes. Do yourself a favor and communicate with your clients. Offer them your services, and discuss the best ways to arrive at an aesthetically pleasing piece. Remember, we are only as good as the end product, and if we start with garbage, you know what will come out!

So, keep this link on your toolbar––it’s a great reference tool!

Augmented Reality: The Visual Leaps and Bounds of Marketing

What used to cost millions of dollars for the video and film elite to create can now be widely produced and accessed by those with the right resources.

Augmented reality, which uses computer-generated overlays to augment a live view of a physical environment, continues to make serious headway in the marketing world. Brands are developing fun and innovative ways of communicating with their consumers. If you can get your consumers to actually enjoy shopping for your product, then in my opinion you’re really on to something. Take a look below at a few great video examples of augmented reality put to use.

Need a new watch? Try one on from the comfort of your couch.


House hunting?


Don’t know how to change the oil in your new BMW?


And, of course, need a beer?


Author: Eric Swenson

AT&T ShopAlerts: Another Means of Mass Advertising

On February 28, 2011, AT&T Advanced Ad Solutions announced a new advertising product called ShopAlerts. The announcement is the first by any US mobile carrier for location-based, opt-in advertising. AT&T will release the service in New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, and San Francisco.

The technology is rather simple. AT&T draws a geo-fence around a particular area, and once a customer who has opted in enters this area, he or she receives an offer, presumably via text. The same geo-fence principles have been available in smartphone apps since the introduction of GPS into handhelds to remind users of particular tasks to complete when in a specific area or to automatically check in to Foursquare to overthrow the current ”mayor.”

Big-name brands––HP, Kmart, JetBlue, and SC Johnson, among others––are behind this initial push. These same big brands, which already have strong social media presences, will now be able totarget the eyeballs and wallets of densely populated US cities.

How will this new technology further muddy the advertising waters?

To opt in to AT&T ShopAlerts, click here.

Full AT&T Press Release

Author: John Carew

Vanguard Wellness Contest Kicks Off With a Visit From a Nutritionist

The arrival of spring means it is time for Vanguard Direct’s annual wellness contest. The wellness contest is a company-wide competition designed to promote healthy eating habits and lifestyles among employees. The idea of the contest is not only to lose weight, but to develop healthy habits that can improve all employees’ health over the long term.

For the competition, Vanguard was split up into 34 teams with 3 members each. On February 23, an initial weigh-in was held. For the next 5 months, each team will be developing its own strategies for losing weight. On June 23, a final weigh-in will be held to determine the winning team. The winning team will have the biggest drop in the total weight of the team (based on the percentage of initial weight lost).

While the weigh-ins provide measurable results, the competition is not all about weight loss. Dropping a few pounds is rewarding, but learning about healthy habits and maintaining them for the long run is the main focus of the contest. This year, to assist in learning these habits (and ultimately lowering the dial on the scale), Vanguard brought in a professional nutritionist to speak to employees.

The nutritionist reinforced to our teams that quick weight loss is not the answer for healthy long-term living. She stressed the importance of eating a big breakfast and small meals throughout the day to keep our minds fully functioning at work, and at home. Here’s one health tip she passed on to us: cereal is a great meal or snack to eat anytime during the day, but make sure your cereal has at least 10% of your daily recommended fiber, watch out for high sugar content, and make sure the first ingredient listed is a ‘whole’ grain.

No matter the results on June 23, Vanguard Direct’s employees are learning the benefits of living healthy, active lives. What is your organization doing to promote employee health?


Authors: Stephanie Huston & Dustin Hill