The Top 10 Promotional Products of 2016

It’s no surprise that 2016 topped the list as one of the most interesting years in recent history. Experiencing everything from presidential elections, the Rio Olympics and large mobs chasing Pokémon characters, the year was definitely a game changer.

For the promotional industry, 2016 saw not only a high demand for new-to-the-market, unique ‘hotlist’ products, but familiar, everyday products were reintroduced with new advancements as well.

Check out our list of top 10 promotional items that were a hit in 2016:

  1. Drones

The drone has become one of the hottest tech items in the industry. As companies like Amazon and Google look to use these high-flying devices, consumers are taking hold of the trend. Advertising your company name is easy and is sure to get a lot of attention.


  1. Waterproof Bluetooth Technology

Having a device with Bluetooth technology is now commonplace. Having a Bluetooth device that is waterproof is even better. With this new technology, you don’t have to worry about water damaging your Bluetooth speaker.


  1. Heather Apparel 

Branded apparel has always been a staple in the industry, but this year heather apparel rose in appeal. Maybe it’s because of its textured look or because of its popularity in the retail market. Whatever it is, heather apparel is available in a variety of forms in the promotional industry and brands are taking notice.


  1. Mobile Chargers

Within the last two years, mobile charges have become more popular; not just because of their practicality, but because of branding potential as well. Coming in all shapes and sizes, many of the chargers within the industry now offer full colour or full wrap branding options with a high value retail look.


  1. Selfie Sticks

As the selfie culture continues to rise, so to do the sales of selfie stick. Perfect for any promotion, selfie sticks bring continual brand awareness and is one promotional item that you know is well-worth hanging onto.


  1. Insulated Bottles

2016 saw new looks in the drinkware category. As many retail brands became increasingly popular, companies looked to mirror the style and feel of these brands at lower costs. These include the S’well and Yeti bottles, which are staples within the retail market. Offered in various colours and patterns, the promotional industry’s insulated bottles continue to be a big hit.


  1. Edible Giveaways

Edible giveaways continue to be a popular demand in the industry. From cookies to chocolates and candy, branded edibles make for a delicious giveaway.


  1. Adult Colouring Books

Children love to colour so why wouldn’t adults like it too? Adult colouring books are so popular today that the promotional market has adopted this product and companies love it. After all, what better way to decompress than to colour?


  1. Eco-Friendly Giveaways

Eco-friendly giveaways continue to be a trendy choice for companies. From notebooks, tote bags, pens and more, companies are gravitating towards these items to do their part for the environment.


  1. Virtual Reality Headsets

2016 saw an increase in interest in virtual reality sets. With new advancements in the technology, the promotional industry took notice and began introducing them into the market. Available at many suppliers, the popularity of branded VR headsets continues to rise.


For more information on any of the above-mentioned promo products, or to keep up to date on industry trends of 2017, be sure to contact Promotion Resource Group at 1-800-989-3023.

An Opportunity as Big as Canada

In 2017, Canada will be celebrating its sesquicentennial anniversary as a country.

150 years since confederation!

In what is shaping up to be a coast-to-coast celebration of epic proportions, Canada 150 is sure to ignite the patriotism of every Canadian. Groups of all sizes are gearing up to celebrate this year-long anniversary in their own unique ways; from corporate events to city-wide municipal activations.


Regardless of how you choose to celebrate, be sure to enhance your activations with official cobranded Canada 150 merchandise.

This special celebration represents a once in a lifetime opportunity to showcase the national pride of your town or organization.

With a wide selection of cobranded apparel and souvenirs on, you’re sure to find that special item that says, “We were there. We were part of Canada 150”.

The Promotional Potential of Branded Drinkware

Branded drinkware provides the exposure and lasting power to make it one of the most effective marketing tools a company can use.


Quite simply, it’s everywhere.

As reported in the 2016 Global Advertising Specialties Impressions Study from ASI, 53% of consumers own promotional drinkware. On average, a consumer will hold onto their branded drinkware for a minimum of 8 months, using it 2-3 times a week or more.

Think about all the exposure your company will receive, not to mention the potential to further build your network. By giving your branded drinkware away at local events or to your clients, you are ensuring your brand is being seen; and seen often.

Branded drinkware is also an environmentally friendly gift option. With North Americans tossing away an estimated 25 billion paper cups every year, branded drinkware provides end users the opportunity to do their part in minimizing their carbon footprint.

Another benefit to drinkware is the creative branding potential. Whether you choose to go with a just a sleek, engraved logo or a full-colour custom graphic wrap, the opportunities for design can be limitless.

8a353d715d60bb877e19049bad7fb198 With the holidays fast approaching, consider giving branded drinkware to your employees, customers, partners, family and friends as a useful gift that is sure to be well received.

At Promotion Resource Group, we love helping our clients find that perfect gift. We’ve highlighted some of our favourite drinkware items here. If you are interested in branded drinkware for your upcoming holiday giveaway, we’d love to hear from you!

The Marketing Power of Sydney Crosby

It’s been a memorable 2016 so far for one of Canada’s most prized national treasures, Sidney Crosby. Back in August, only two months removed from winning his second Stanley Cup with the Pittsburgh Penguins, Crosby was named Captain of Team Canada for the much-anticipated IIHF World Cup of Hockey.

Last week, history was made as Sid the Kid lead Team Canada to gold against a talented Team Europe, earning tournament MVP honors along the way. Crosby joins Wayne Gretzky and Bobby Orr as the only players to win the Hart Trophy, the Conn Smythe Trophy and MVP of the World Cup of Hockey – otherwise known as the “trifecta”.


The sport’s most marketable player just became even more marketable. But how exactly do you gauge the depth of his marketability?


  • Crosby’s Pittsburgh Penguins jersey currently leads all other NHL jerseys in sales.
  • He currently holds the record for the richest endorsement deal in NHL history after signing with Reebok back in 2010, inking a 5-7 year contract worth $1.4 million per year.
  • Last year alone, he earned an estimated $4.5 million with his kaledescope of endorsements including Gatorade, Rogers Communications, Adidas and of course, Tim Horton’s.

As the upcoming NHL season approaches, the marketing power of Sidney Crosby looks to only gain momentum after his dream-worthy streak of accomplishing the sport’s ultimate feats. Every competing brand aims to associate their name with a winner.

Who wouldn’t want to partner with Sid the Kid?

Canadian Paralympic Athletes to Leave their Mark at Rio 2016

Comprised of 4,350 athletes from over 160 countries around the world, spanning 526 medal events in 22 different sports, 2016 Paralympic games have been heralded as the second-most attended Paralympic Games in history.


The 2016 Paralympic Games will also be the platform for several historical debuts as Rio welcomes a multitude of new countries and new sports to the Games. For the first time ever, athletes will compete in the Para-canoeing and Para-triathlon while nations including Aruba, Congo, Somalia, and Togo will compete for the first time, period.


Beyond these uplifting milestones and statistics, are the stories of hope, perseverance and inspiring human achievement that have become the benchmark for the Paralympic games throughout its 68-year history.


From our own Team Canada, we take immense pride in stories such as that of David Wilsie, a former semi-pro athlete who became quadriplegic after he was injured playing hockey. Wilsie, now a veteran of the Canadian Wheelchair Rugby landscape and a public face of the sport, enters Rio 2016 as a four-time Canadian National Champion and a three-time Paralympic medalist.




Canadians have been showing their support for Canadian athletes in many ways. At the corporate level, CIBC sets a tremendous example with #CIBCTeamNext, a collection of sponsored athletes ranging from both Olympic and Paralympic athletes across a number of sports.


At Promotion Resource Group, we tip our hats to all the individuals, families and organizations lending their admiration, love and support to Team Canada. With the nation behind them, these inspiring Para-athletes will look to leave their mark on Rio 2016.



PokemonGo: The Lasting Power of a Strong Brand Influence


In a competitive market such as promotional products or marketing, a deep emotional connection to a brand or product is the critical turning point of success. Recently widely publicized, PokemonGo is a perfect example of how an emotional connection to a product and a strong brand influence can go a long way with the success of a project. Deconstructing the framework of success for a product for PokemonGo shows that even without any massive marketing campaigns, a product or app like PokemonGo can have a greater impact based on the content and connection the brand creates.

A Brief History of Pokemon (1998-2016)

Call it luck or coincidence, Pokemon released its first game in 1998, right around when handheld game devices were starting to take the market by storm. Taking advantage of this momentum Pokemon continuously released new games, Pokemon films and other Pokemon themed entertainment aspects in the coming years, which helped instill a strong brand presence in the minds of young children in North America and many other countries around the world. The brand influence carried Pokemon’s success long after better gaming systems came around, mainly because of the core values and experience it injected into the young and growing market since 1998. And that strong brand influence brings us to 2016, where an interactive real world Pokemon experience made players from all ages come back to Pokemon, not only for the re-imagined way of playing, but also for the strong brand image that was still considered fresh in the minds of millions.


pokemon-go-nick_statt-2016-1.0.0Adapting from it’s roots, the integration of an app and smartphone based system was very successful


Reasons for Success

This brand influence allowed PokemonGo to be successful, something which could have been a dud considering the lack of a marketing campaign or even a large announcement for it’s release. Following the theme of many successful projects and apps, the social media presence and word of mouth interaction shot PokemonGo into extreme popularity, combining the initial values and brand identity that has been around since 1998, with a modern re-imagined game design and social media presence which perfectly fits into the aspects of 2016.


The overall proof for PokemonGo’s success in a competitive app and social media based environment strictly stems from the power of the brand and its long lasting influence on customers. Because of the lasting influence on former players over a decade after its original release and the catered influence to a young generation, it broadens its impact and target market while still maintaining a strong brand identity which is the root of its success. The lack of a marketing campaign would be startling to some, though the weight the Pokemon brand carries, along with the adaptation to an app and a smartphone based world all made PokemonGo intent for success.

Team Bonding – Fostering Great Collaboration.

Great teamwork is critical for the success of any company. Employees need to be able to work as one unit; as a unified team. Cooperation and unselfishness creates the backbone of a well-oiled team. Just like any sports team, you can have a group of superstars but if they don’t work well together, they are unlikely to succeed in whatever their goal is. When a team is able to work together as one they are able to effectively get more higher quality work out of their effort and the group members are able to contribute their own strengths and perspectives to the task.

Participating in corporate team building events/activities can help your team understand one another and allows them to work together more efficiently. Trying something new can generate good vibes among employees. Choosing something unique and slightly outside of people’s comfort zones can encourage them to come together in new ways. By allowing individuals to contribute to a common goal outside of the office, you can help groups break down political barriers, eliminate distractions and have fun. After a successful team event or two you should start to notice a development in certain areas:

Trust: Mutual trust fostered by team building activities can allow your employees/ co -workers to depend on each other more often, which will increase productivity.

Friendship: Bonding events help team members get to know each other on a deeper level. This can contribute to great friendships and a happier workplace.

Communication: Through the events, members can learn how to communicate with each other more effectively.
Looking for a good place to host your next team building event? We recommend trying an escape room. For our last event we went to our local escape room called “Escape From the 6” and we had a blast. An escape room is a real life room where you and your group are immersed in an interactive game world. Your team has to find hidden objects, make creative leaps, crack codes, solve puzzles and discover secrets that stand between you and your final goal: “escape the room”. Your team is your greatest asset and your biggest challenge. Only by working together, communicating and using your time wisely will you succeed. It’s perfect for developing outstanding teamwork and it’s relatively inexpensive.

Candidate Speed Dating: Job Fairs & Finding Mr. or Mrs. Right.

A job fair, commonly referred to as a University Fair, is a big event usually hosted by universities, where employers and young job seekers meet and have an interaction similar to speed-dating. Both parties try to make a lasting impression in the short period of time they have together all in the hopes of landing a position.


Finding qualified candidates has become more time-consuming than ever before, requiring employers to post ads and use a variety of services like Linkedin, Indeed and Monster etc. to make potential candidates aware of the open position. A potential solution is a job fair, which allows employers to go directly to the candidates instead of waiting for them to find their ads. By granting access to a stop-n-shop environment, job fairs create a lucrative means of attracting many qualified employees without having to advertise online.

Job fairs allow you to have a conversation as opposed to interacting with a resume. The issue with digital communication is it tends to be impersonal. When you meet face-to-face there are many potential advantages such as: non-verbal clues that can show someone’s confidence and how much they care, you can communicate ideas with each other more effectively and personal touches can be added to make candidates stand out.


At job fairs you’re able to connect with students who are going to graduate and enter the workforce. It allows you to get your foot in the door with young workers before they can enter the larger job market. They are green, but most will offer a fresh perspective especially when it comes to modern/social trends.

At this point you might be wondering how you’re going to foster a relationship with these students? In many ways job fairs are similar to trade shows. One of the most important principles for success is creating a lasting image that will stand out. Not too long ago we wrote a blog called “10 Tips for Trade Show Success”. It provides tips for creating a great image for tradeshows, but these tips are also relevant for job fairs. A recent study of career fairs and the behaviors that job seekers preferred most out of employer representatives showed that high marks are given to employer reps who demonstrate a genuine interest in job seekers.

The most noteworthy ways to show interest included:

  • Engaging students in the aisle
  • Looking over resumes before putting them aside
  • Reps who hand out promotional products and business cards and encourage students to contact them with any questions.

PRG is committed to helping you in any way we can. Here are some examples of promotional products that will help you connect with university students at your next job fair 

Well Isn’t That Just S’well.

It is no secret that drinking water is great for our mental and physical health. Yet some how we are always coming up short on our suggested daily intake (for the average male it is 3L/day). A company called S’well has created its own water bottle that is so fashionable and functional  you will never want to be without it again.

S’well water bottles are the original hydration accessory. It combines a high-performance vacuum sealed water bottle with trenddriven collections, ensuring  you are alway able to find the right size, pattern and colour to fit seamlessly into your daily life.

Quality and Performance: Composed of BPA-free, non-leaching and non-toxic 18/8 stainless steel that screams high quality and feels great in the hand. By utilizing the great insulating abilities of stainless steel and a vacuum sealed cap, the S’well bottle is able to offer outstanding insulation without surface condensation:

  • Stays hot for 12 hours
  • Stays cold for 24 hours

This allowsyou to not only enjoy some cold water after your bottle has sat in the car all day, but also keeps your coffee or tea piping hot all day long.

Style: The sleek, stainless-steel vessels, feature a modern design influenced by old-fashioned milk bottles. New collections come out all the time, with a variety of colours: metallic, galaxy, wood etc. and finishes such as: stone, high gloss, matte etc.

CaptureCopy of metal

Green Machine: S’well was launched with the mission to rid the world of plastic bottles. In the US each year, 50 billion plastic bottles are dumped into landfills. When you purchase a S’well bottle you help better our environment by reducing your carbon footprint. S’well also donates 10% of the proceeds from each bottle to charities such as UNICEF, American Forest and Drink Up.

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What happened to a five dollar thermos? People now crave the brand recognition, quality and style that S’well delivers.

PRG is a proud supplier of custom S’well bottles. With all the available options, your S’well bottle will fit perfectly with your brand.

Experiential Marketing in 2016

The big season for experiential marketing is right around the corner. 2015 was a good year but 2016 is poised to be even greater. A new year and increasing budgets means fresh ideas and trends. With the need to interact on a deeper level with consumers, marketers will be moving away from traditional one-dimensional mediums towards methods like experiential marketing. This allows for the use of as many senses as possible.

“Out with the old, in with the new” pop-up stores, photo booths and charging stations are all things of the past. Creating events with an urban/cool feel (less corporate) is very important especially if you want your event to create social buzz. Some popular trends for this year include:

  • Integrating new technology like virtual reality. With companies like Oculus creating headsets that are more available to the public, you can take advantage of the high media and public interest in VR.
  • Mobile trucks and refurbished shipping containers. Both economic options with lots of wow factor, that create a very urban feel.

Someone to watch this year is “Redbull” as they have mastered their own non-traditional marketing strategy. Instead of making tv, radio and print ads, they host and create their own action sports events, allowing them to connect with their consumers in person and through the social buzz the events create. They also sponsor many professional athletes that act as walking billboards for their logo by wearing their swag, they also act as brand ambassadors at the events and on their social media accounts, boasting many followers.

Redbull using VR headsets to promote their Air Race Competition.

redbullIf you’re working on an experiential campaign or any other initiative and need a helping hand, our staff at PRG is here to assist. Give us a call or email us. We’re here to offer our  experience in the industry.