A Quarter Past the Potato

Virgil Winston: Marketing Guru

If you think you’ve had a long week, remember the ancient Aztec week was twenty days long, which not even a three-day weekend could save. Throughout history we have used all types of time-telling devices—sundials, pendulums, candle clocks, hour glasses, calendar clocks, and for the ancient Incas of Peru, even time measured by how long it took to cook a potato, which thousands of years later, has became a little more sophisticated by my own grandfather, who proudly believes he can measure time by his own bowel movements.

Yes, we’ve come a long way, which is why I’d like to introduce you to the Planet-Time Clock. This promotional gift item will stand out on any desk. It makes a stunning gift with the silver tone globe contrasting against the black weighted base…all with a generous sized imprint area for your logo and/or message. Of course, the exciting thing about this clock is this: the globe rotates once per minute advancing the time and the Meridian and Equatorial bands. This is not just a timepiece, but a conversation piece.

There may be thousands of ways to tell time, but how many of them are sleek, powerful and accurate—certainly more reliable than a potato…or a trip to the bathroom.

Well, I’m off to the Opera with my wife, where I predict in three rotations of the globe, I will be fast asleep. Until next time, remember, “There is no time, like the present.”

Google Cool

Virgil Winston: Marketing Guru

My Aunt Irene has what doctors call Internet Addiction Disorder, which is compounded by an aggressive form of Relational Googleitis—an inability to stop Googling everybody she ever met. In spite of her lug of a husband, she wants to believe her life is better than most of the people she knows, including the boys and girls she shared the first grade with.

While Irene is the extreme, there are many of us who, if not in the same boat, are most definitely sailing in the same waters. We love our computers. And if we’re not Googling our high school class for convicted felons, we’re listening to music, organizing photos, doing taxes, getting recipes, playing games, making movies, charting genealogical roots, gambling, dreaming, searching and, once in awhile, even working.

Enhance that computer experience and, guess what? You’ve just taken one giant leap toward entrenching your life—and promotional products—into the lives of your potential customers. Computer gadgets never go out of style. And the cooler the better.

And, yes…it doesn’t get cooler than the USB Laptop Fan. This refreshing gift is perfect for the laptop user. No batteries needed—it’s all USB powered. It also comes with a strong clip to hold it in place, a clear case with snap-shut lid and a gift box. You’ll get people turning their heads for this one…if only for the fresh breeze coming their way.

Well, I’m off to my next door neighbor’s wedding, a man my Aunt Irene tells me once served four days in county jail for disorderly conduct. Until next time, remember, if you want to be cool, you have to stay cool.

The GUMvelope – Promotional Candy

Virgil Winston: Marketing Guru

The largest bubble ever blown was 23 inches in diameter.
Record set on July 19, 1994
Susan Montgomery Willams, Fresno California

Ever since that great California ad man, Gary Dahl, invented the Pet Rock in 1975, we’ve been looking for the next big thing. Well, I just found it. It’s called the GUMvelope. I just love the name—trademark rightfully pending. This promotional tradeshow product is the perfect blend of originality and simplicity. It’s gum with your name on it. A 12 pack of Sugar Free Peppermint Gum in a handy, silver dispenser wrapped with an imprinted envelope.

Sure, you expect company names and logos imprinted on mugs, shirts, pens and hats, but gum? That’s a novelty…a novelty that makes you want to dig into your pocket and share with the world—five beautiful sticks at a time. Oh…and by the way, North Americans spend approximately half a billion dollars on gum every year. In other words, that’s a lot of people to please…a lot of customers.

But, please…remember the gum etiquette: no popping, no cracking and no unlawfully disposing of gum under the furniture. Friends don’t let friends chew and drop. Chew responsibly.

Now, I’m off to the Friends for a Cell Free America Rally being held out by the only payphone left in town. Until next time, remember the words of Hank Ketcham, “Flattery is like chewing gum. Enjoy it, but don’t swallow it.”


Virgil Winston: Marketing Guru

My mom is a big fan of Henry Deutschendorf, also known as the late John Denver, who she believed was almost as talented as Barry Alan Pincus or Cherilyn Sarkisian, who you’d probably recognize as Barry Manilow or Cher.

Musical tastes aside, Mom believed you kept the name you were given—which is why I’m still Virgil—and also consistent with her skepticism for anything that smells of in-authenticity. Bono. Madonna. Cubic Zirconia. Forget about it. She wanted the real thing. Her motto: “Give me the best and “make it last,” which would make her an ideal candidate for the Cutter & Buck Am Classic Shoe Shine Kit, forgetting the fact that she hasn’t been out of her slippers in the last 4 years.

Frankly, I’m excited about this gift product. Give one of these exclusive promotional items and you’ll immediately set yourself apart from the competition. Not only is it a gift that most people don’t have, but wish they did, it’s sleek, handsome and authentic. This seven-piece set includes a leather and waxed cotton twill case, neutral shoe polish, buffing sponge, polishing brush, wire brush, cloth and shoe horn…with the signature Cutter & Buck lining you’ve come to expect. It also includes a 2-piece Cutter & Buck gift box. Trust me, I use it all the time…and so will your customers.

Well, I’m off to an Antonio Dominic Benedetto concert, who we won’t tell my mom is really Tony Bennett. Until next time, remember the old Chinese proverb that says, “The beginning of wisdom is to call things by their right names.”

The Snorkle Box

Virgil Winston: Marketing Guru

I suppose because of our extensive marketing background, it is no surprise that my entire family comes from a long line of inventors. Of course, with the exception of the Snorkel Box, none of our inventions have come close to seeing light outside of our basements, attics or, in the case of my Uncle Lou, cell block.

In fact, for the record (and don’t tell Aunt Esther this), even the Snorkel Box was an un-credited work of art…and for the unenlightened…the Snorkel Box is the specialized mailbox with a protruding receiver that allows people to deposit mail without leaving their cars. While a brilliant idea, it was born more out of rage than invention. As the story goes, one horribly rainy day, Aunt Esther couldn’t find a parking spot at the post office, and in lazy desperation…flung her letter out the window and straight into a mailbox that was suddenly opened. It was a beautiful shot…which legend has it, was witnessed by the head of the Post Office’s Research and Development Department. Of course, the rest is history.

But, with no royalty check in hand, Aunt Esther always ends up turning philosophical, saying, “the Snorkel Box belongs to us all now.”

Bottom line, I don’t care who takes credit for our world’s inventions. Esther’s right, they do belong to us all and it’s time we step up and give gratitude for each and every one of these small miracles, starting right now with our featured product of the day, the Lint Removal Brush. Yes, finally, you can wear dark colors with confidence. This indispensable brush will not only keep every suit, jacket and dress lint free, but will keep your name as close as the heart, kneecap and thigh of every American lucky enough to hold this valuable promotional travel item in their hands. This item is a must…not just for airline pilots, flight attendants or traveling addicts, but for individual home use as well.

Go ahead. Make this a better America. Become lint free.

Now, I’m off to take Aunt Esther to get her hair pimped as she calls it. You can bet we’ll have to mail a few letters on the way. Until next time, remember what Esther always says, “Necessity is not the mother of invention, rain is.”

You Read My What?

Virgil Winston: Marketing Guru

My great, great grandfather Clayton Winston was very much like William Shakespeare. Not that he could write, but that he died on the same day he was born. He lived a long and productive life, so I suppose it was poetic that he met his maker during his own birthday party, during which he was tragically mistaken for a Pancho Villa piñata, by no less than his own six year old grandson…my father.

Of course, I wouldn’t have known any of this if Uncle Lou hadn’t read the journal out loud at my father’s birthday party. Yes, Uncle Lou had been drinking too many Pineapple Daiquiri’s and, yes, he had no business reading it in the first place, let alone calling my father a “killer,” but, just the same—talk about your bombshells!

Truth is, I never knew about the “piñata accident,” let alone the nun from Kansas or my fathers’ fear of marbles…and it totally explains his near obsessive avoidance of parks on weekends, and, of course, the way he breaks down sobbing during the Sound of Music.

If I didn’t think we should all keep a journal before…I do now. Journals are more than a few careless thoughts written down, they are a record of the lives we live and the experiences we share. Journals are our history. And the more we encourage them, the better off we’ll be…my father being the exception.

And, yes, I have the perfect journal for you. It’s called the Sedona Suede Journal. It includes a 100-page refillable spiral journal with genuine suede cover. It also has a pocket for business cards, with a covered vinyl pen loop and a 1-piece gift box. It’s not just the perfect promotional gift for customers and employees alike, but a legacy to pass down from generation to generation. And, don’t forget, it’s refillable…because life is refillable.

Well, I’m off to take some food over to Uncle Lou, who is now in a self-imposed witness protection program, unbeknownst to him…that his wife has sent out change of address cards. Until next time, remember, “You can’t change the past, but you can ruin the present by worrying about the future.”

The Odd And The Beautiful

Virgil Winston: Marketing Guru

Every St. Patrick’s Day, my friend Eduardo Jose-Luis Dominguez puts on his lime green suit and celebrates the heritage he knows nothing about. And every year, he inevitably gets asked the same question: where did you get that suit?

I suppose it’s human nature. If we like something someone else has, we want to know where they got it. It’s how every fad from the Pez Dispenser to Pet Rocks to Mood Rings began, the last one of which my mother-in-law invented, only without the ring.

We love the odd, quirky and unusual, which leads us right to the Staple-Less Stapler. That’s right…it’s the staple-less paper fastening system…surprisingly handy in a busy office…with no jamming on faxes and copiers. The PL-80 cuts through papers and creates a loop-and-tuck binding, able to fasten up to 5 pages of standard paper. You’ll never use staples again. It’s the perfect desk accessory—fun, functional…and, best of all, most people don’t already have one.

Of course, I have one, making me the envy of the entire office…or since I work at home…the entire neighborhood. Just the same, everyone wants to keep up with the Winston’s now. And do you know what? For a good price, I’d be glad to let them.

Now, I’m off to the pound to get ourselves a puppy, which, I believe is not coincidentally happening on the day before my kids go back to school. Until next time, remember the words of the late Hunter S. Thompson, “When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro.”

A Tip of the Hat

Virgil Winston: Marketing Guru

Let me tell you something about my side of the family…we’re not especially handsome people. And you wouldn’t be out of line if you said we were downright homely. I mean we certainly have our moments, given the right lighting and the proper stretch pants, but let’s face it, we’re ordinary at best, and it’s just a darn good thing my kids got their looks from their mother’s side, with the exception of the youngest one of course.

To make a long story short, we’re the perfect candidates for hats, and I have every cap my wife ever gave me to prove it. Truth is, hats are for everybody from Johnny Depp to Ron Howard. In fact, hats are truly the ultimate marketers dream. They are a universal gift, offering truly top of mind, brand awareness. What’s the first thing someone looks at it when you walk up? It’s not you, but your hat…and the logo/message you’ve put on it. And, perhaps, the best thing about hats is this…people save, collect and rotate them. It is the promotion that keeps giving, or better yet, advertising.

Here’s a tip about hats, though. You have to get a cool one…a fashionable one…one your customers or employees want to put on. And for my money, the Brushed Canvas Hat is your solution. It has a comfortable soft canvas, with a finish that looks brushed or washed, along with cotton buckram lining on the front panels. It comes in over 21 color variations, with a crown that offers a relaxed casual fit for maximum comfort, all with a very stylish cloth back strap and brass buckle.

Well, I’m off to school. It’s career day at my son’s school and I’m talking about the art of promotion in a narcissistic, post-modern society. Until next time, remember, sometimes the only way to learn to climb a wall is to throw your cap over it.

Note to Self

Virgil Winston: Marketing Guru

My wife is a sticky note addict. They are all over the house. On the toilet seat—close it. In the shower—squeegee it. On the TV—turn it off. On the kitchen trash—take it out. On the dishes—wash them. On the dog—feed it. I am scared to think how much she has spent on the “sticky note” in the course of her life. It wouldn’t surprise me to believe she is now up to a $2.00 a day habit. We have confronted her, even bought her Palm Pilots and eraser boards, but nothing has worked. So, we have accepted it, knowing that without her we’d all be lost.

Of course, I suspect my wife is not alone. We are a nation obsessed with lists, notes and reminders; something which forgetful baby boomers suddenly understand is more valuable than ever. Since 1970 the sticky note has become a staple of American life, a part of our everyday existence and, most importantly, a fixture on desks from California to Maine. As someone who wants to get his name out in the public, you want to be a part of that frenzy, which is why we proudly feature the Pop-Up Sticky-Note Dispenser.

This pop-up sticky-note dispenser is the perfect tradeshow gift. It mounts anywhere with the supplied self-adhesive tape. You can be sure your name will stick around when you give these out. This dispenser is available in your pick of three translucent colors and includes a standard 3 by 3 inch pop-up note pad. Take it from me…they’re addictive.

Speaking of notes, I’m off to the cleaners. Until next time, remember what Henry Ford
once said, “Whether you think you can or whether you think you can’t, you’re right.”

Life is a Puzzle

Virgil Winston: Marketing Guru

When it comes to the Rubik’s Cube…there is only 1 correct answer and 43 quintillion wrong ones. Quintillion…as in 43,252,003,274,489,856,000. And I thought Scrabble was humbling. Of course, my Uncle Marty says he’s successfully solved the algorithm four times, but then he was always alone, so we believe him about as much as we believe he was married to Shirley MacLaine for six weeks…as if the grainy black & white photo of him and Shirley in front of a taxi is proof. I can guarantee you…if he said more than four words to her, it was in another life.

In any case, one eighth of the world’s population has laid their hands on “The Cube,” which makes it not only the most popular puzzle in history, but the world’s ninth most cruel and unusual punishment. Don’t you think it’s about time your company join the fun? You can start with the Micro Rubik’s Cube Key Holder. It’s not just a chain holder, but a fully functioning miniature Rubik’s cube, with your custom imprinted message right there for all to fumble with. And with a quintillion different color positions, just imagine how long they’ll be fumbling.

It’s good fun…good torture…and great advertising.

But, don’t thank me…thank Erno Rubik, the Hungarian little fellow who came up with the colorful brainchild. So, what are you waiting for…go ahead and get a few…the possibilities are almost never ending.

Well, speaking of games, I’m off to the U.S.A.R.P.S. tournament…known to those of us who play the game…not only as the USA Rock Paper Scissors tournament, but the worlds greatest hand sport. Until next time, remember what Erno Rubik said, “The problems of puzzles are very near the problems of life.”