NACA BLOG - Promotional Item Dilemmas in the Time of COVID-19 - 6/9/2020

June 9, 2020​
Rob Einhorn
Promotions & Unicorns, Too

Welcome to the era of COVID-19. When the beginning of the crisis began, none of us imagined how long we would be working, studying, and staying at home. Here we are, as we approach our third month of quarantine and the thing that is on so many people's mind is "Where did I leave my mask?" If anyone told me that I would be getting dozens of emails, daily, about personal protective equipment (PPE) and non-medical grade masks a year ago, I would have laughed in your face. Sadly, this is the new normal, hopefully for only a short time.

In late March, when I started seeing emails about masks, I was in a moral dilemma. Do I promote these masks, do I intentionally not promote them so that those on the front lines get them, or do I not push them because it feels like I am trying to capitalize on a crisis of epic proportions? I spoke with a few customers and people in the medical community and the consensus was to take a backseat on the promotion and see what people want. My moral compass was set to "N" and in this case, the N stood for "Neutral".

Fast forward to mid-April and the decision was made for me. One of my long-time customers called me on the phone asking if I had any masks for promotional use. At the time, there were a few options of custom non-medical masks for promotional use and it was time to show them off. The first sale was a few days later, with the school mascot on the front of the mask and the school logo on the bottom left and right. When I took the order, the price was well over $5.50 each, but by the time they were shipped, they cost my customer a dollar less. I could have held the original price, but again, my morals kept me doing the thing that would be better for my customer. Today that same mask costs less than $3.50.

There are many masks/face coverings available. We have one, two, and three-ply masks, and the 2 & 3 ply versions often have pockets for putting in a filter. We have sold bandanas and buffs/neck gaiters/neck wraps and even cooling towels instead of a true mask because everyone wants what is right for them. You can have them screen printed, sublimated, and even embroidered.

Are masks right for every campus? That is a decision that must be made at the school and the community at large. I wear my masks whenever I go into public, except for running, doing a 5K is not easy for me to do wearing the mask. My daughter is about to start college in the fall, I expect her to wear a mask and probably one that has her school's logo on it to show her school pride. I admit freely, I am happy to take an order of imprinted masks, but I look forward to the day where I will not sell them ever again.

Rob Einhorn is the president of Promotions & Unicorns, Too and has been an associate member of the Association for nearly three decades.

Related Professional Competencies: Networking & Business Relationships, Marketing & Branding

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