This is the section of PPB in which we share successful, unique promotional products campaigns that we hope inspire you to think differently about your own work. This month, however, we bring you a retail campaign that didn’t find its footing until it found the promotional products industry. We hope you like it.
Malibu, California-based supplier ITo/2CC (UPIC: ITo) is a product development and marketing company co-founded by Dan Hoffman and his sister, Carrie Pollare, in 2000. Together, the two have created products ranging from children’s toys and high-end leather handbags to a glitzy micro-trend called jean jewels (that’s right, jewels that clip onto your jeans).
The duo oversees the products from design to distribution by outsourcing most of the steps in the process. “What we really love are the sales and marketing aspects of running a company,” Hoffman says. “That is the most fun.”
After commercial success with many of their endeavors, Hoffman says they wanted to do something that benefited charities. The answer was a bracelet line called “I’m Tired Of …” The line featured the names of different social and charitable causes, such as animal cruelty or cancer, imprinted on pewter beads. The beads were strung on “chains” made of recycled tires, and the finished bracelets were sold online.
Hoffman recalls that, at the time, the only similar product idea in existence was silicon Live Strong bracelets, but he wanted to take that concept up a notch. “We wanted to create something really cool looking—really fashionable,” he says, “And we wanted to make it eco-friendly, which the vast majority of silicon bracelets are not. We also wanted to make it in America.”
ITo/2CC ultimately paired up with 30 different charities and nonprofits for the “I’m Tired Of …” bracelets. Then, the bracelets were sold online for $10, with $5 from each sale going to the charity or nonprofit associated with the bracelet’s cause. Bracelets were available for world hunger, animal cruelty, cancer and a host of other causes.
“The philosophy was to raise significant money for important causes,” Hoffman says.
It worked. After getting the “I’m Tired Of …” bracelets on “The Today Show,” sales took off and the charities and nonprofits involved profited. Unfortunately, Hoffman and ITo/2CC did not. “We were shipping onesie, twosie bracelets, and it was just costing us,” Hoffman recalls.
Inspired by Toms Shoes’ one-for-one business model, in which the company donates a pair of shoes to a needy child for each pair of shoes sold, Hoffman was disappointed that his model was shaping up to be unsustainable. “If all companies operated the same way as Toms Shoes, this would be a much better world to live in,” Hoffman says.
ITo/2CC began to look for fulfillment and staffing solutions in hopes of keeping the program going, but before it could pull the trigger on any of them, a company requested a custom bracelet to benefit world hunger. The Petrón Spirits Company wanted to hand out “I’m Tired Of …” bracelets at all of its events—we’re talking Emmys, Oscars and the like—to promote a new product line.
“That was our first custom bracelet,” Hoffman says, adding that more followed until he eventually found himself in the promotional products industry.
A year later, and Hoffman has a network of distributors from whom he says he’s learned a lot, and the “I’m Tired Of …” bracelets are sold exclusively to the industry.
“We still have bracelets for sale online, but those are closeouts. When they’re gone we won’t make anymore,” Hoffman says.
Aside from charities and nonprofits, Hoffman says companies in the automotive sector have really taken to the bracelets because of their recycled tire component. However, the bracelets could be used in a number of cause-marketing campaigns.
“People love them,” Hoffman says, “And often like wearing more than one.”
Learn More About It
Campaign Name The name of ITo/2CC’s “I’m Tired Of …” bracelets is a play on words because the bracelets are made of recycled tires. Dan Hoffman, co-founder ITo/2CC, says few people realize the double meaning on their own.
Media Used The process of recycling car tires is tricky. Since they’re made of vulcanized rubber, they can’t be melted down and reused. Instead, used car tires are pulverized into a dust and then re-formed into new material.
Product Design The designer of the original “I’m Tired Of …” bracelet (new bead designs that provide more text space have since been created) was a high-end designer who, Hoffman says, had to be “picked up off the floor” when he was asked to design a bracelet costing only $10.