Monty Python’s “The Life of Brian” a film as remarkable for the controversy it created, as for the many memorable scenes still quoted to this day. Once such concerned the People’s Front of Judea’s (or was it the Judean People’s Front?) ever extending list in answer to the question of “What have the Romans done for us?”

Something similar happens if you take a minute to consider the benefits that promotional merchandise has too, both in absolute terms as a sales promotion tool, and in comparison to other weapons in the marketing arsenal.

Promotional merchandise is an inherently terrific vehicle for generating brand awareness. The cornucopia of products which can bear at the minimum a logo, let alone those which can be more subtly reflective of equity (or indeed completely bespoke) is endless.

Equally varied, though on occasion rather more surprising, are the nooks and crannies into which that merchandise can find its way, often through the actions of the initial recipients who carry product far and wide like seeds on the wind. But with logos.

Plus, because promotional products can also have considerable longevity, once out and about merchandise can go on generating awareness indefinitely. A promotional tortoise if you will, continuing to steadily do its work as the hares like buzzy adverts and the latest viral trends come and go. A quick look on E-bay today saw people selling merchandise that I worked on for customers over 15 years ago.

Less often considered is the extent to which merchandise can play a more strategic role as part of the wider marketing mix.

The towels given to players at the Wimbledon tennis tournament have developed a cachet of their own, and are now as indelibly associated with the tournament as Strawberries and Cream or bad weather! Indeed, so popular had the towels become that this year the tournament limited the number they gave out. On equity, functional and publicly used by aspirational figures, this is merchandise that’s helping to define the very core of what the brand is.

Promotional merchandise can also secure a brand access to new channels and markets. Take a promotional product, some nice packaging and combine them with the product being promoted and you have a gift set. It’s the sort of thing that can, for example, elevate a drinks brand from the shelves of a supermarket and onto those of a department store.

The appeal of a product with a logo on it should never be underestimated. Even an inexpensive t-shirt can suddenly become hugely desirable with a brand emblazoned on it. Of course conversely, for those of us in the industry paying the price of a ‘designer’ product is a bitter pill to swallow when you know the manufacturing cost of that product before the addition of a logo works its magic on perceived value.

Perception is also acutely relevant to another advantage of promotional merchandise over certain other forms of sales promotion. If you give someone a discount coupon, cashback or even free product they know, or think they know, exactly how much is being expended to incentivise them. Give them a gift with purchase and their perception is distorted by their presumption of worth, almost certainly something that is considered in terms of “what would it cost me to buy that”.

The beauty of promotional merchandise in this context is not only that it presents a fantastic return on investment, it can also create a perceived value far in excess of actual cost.

So it seems they did a lot for us, those Romans.

Of course to maximise all these benefits you still have to get the product right. That’s where The Printed Image comes in!