Innovations in P.O.P.

by Laurie Russo
Beverage point-of-purchase suppliers have been hard at work coming up with new ways to attract attention. Some are going with state-of-the-art, and even futuristic, technology. Others are having fun with traditional designs and materials — call it old-school with a twist. Either way, no one is standing still.
“The beverage industry is becoming more innovative and sophisticated in finding ways to advertise its products and ideas,” offers Richard Scardino, president of Houston, Texas-based Premier Merchandising. “The trend seems to be increasing for what I would call mid-priced, wide-format printers and laminators to produce in-house P.O.P. advertisements.” He cites the new Encad/Kodak 1000i wide-format printer, which comes in 42-inch and 60-inch models and prints up to 220 square feet per hour, as an example.
Another product Scardino is excited about is Premier's own “Ad Roller,” which continuously rotates to display a product or message in a vertical motion. “At the least, I think it is a very innovative approach to getting a customer’s attention,” he says. The Ad Roller also is affordable — the 24-inch model costs $149 — and it's also available in 36-inch and 50-inch models.
Traditional materials are also being taken for a spin. Stanton, Calif.'s Couch & Philippi, a silkscreen printer that fabricates primarily (but not exclusively) on metal, points out that while it has very traditional uses, it also has new, creative and flexible design concepts. Tim Riordan, vice president of sales and marketing says, “Although it's considered an old technique, it's seeing a real resurgence. We're always trying to push the envelope as far as doing new things with metal.”
Metal is a durable medium, he explains, and can be embossed, die-cut and rolled into almost any shape. “We have metal that's silver/ metallic, and we can use different translucent inks that allow us to create a very colorful, vibrant piece, but the metal still comes through, giving it a look you just can't get with paper, plastic or cardboard.”
This durability and design flexibility is being put to use on-premise at restaurant chain TGI Friday's, where table-toppers (used to promote specialty drinks, for example), are typically printed on paper products or plastics. The new C&P product is clear, embossed aluminum printed with translucent inks using a four-color process.
“This piece is not only unique, but durable — paper, cardboard and plastic table-toppers get too easily beat-up and last a month to six weeks, tops,” says Riordan. “These not only last around three months, but the price is competitive.”
Another favorite C&P piece is the 5-quart promotional bucket, used by Anheuser-Busch for everything from holidays to sports. “We did about 35 to 40 designs, or 150,000-200,000 buckets,” recalls Riordan. C&P also does work for Coors, but microbrewers — such as Flying Fish and Tahoe Brewing — are not left out. The company is happy to deliver smaller quantities.
May Advertising of Ft. Worth, Texas, is also big on metal. The printer and fabricator is a longtime supplier to convenience stores, and sees beverage companies moving into non-traditional pieces. “We see companies such as Pepsi and Coke — clients of ours — doing a lot more c-store advertising, and more outdoor pricing, where most of it used to be indoors,” says Allan Meyer, May's vice president. “Also, we're doing more permanent point of sale, like five-year outdoor aluminum flip price signs, which can change from 12-pack to 6-pack to 2-liter... they can save money in the long run.”
“Technology is making a bigger impact in the marketplace. Everyone is looking for the newest thing to set them apart from the competition,” he continues. “We still do a lot of the metal beer tacker signs you often see in bars. But we've tried to offer things like lighted signs, novelty signs... things that will grab people's attention rather than just being stuck to a wall.”
One May piece that clearly grabs attention is the floating beverage can and display. These pieces can turn, flip, float and move with no strings, and can be encased or non-encased.
Another helpful trend for suppliers, offers Meyer, is that beverages are going into non-traditional venues. “Office supply stores that have never carried beverages now stock water and coffee, like Starbucks in Staples,” he says. “This gives us opportunities we've never had before to print P.O.P. items for companies that we work with both directly and indirectly. For example, we did the printing for a display company working for Starbucks, which then went into Staples locations.”
Riverside Technologies, Wilton, Conn., produces on- and in-package materials for companies such as Coca-Cola, Interbrew, Miller and Coors, most on the cutting edge of technology. Cans that talk or contain money are all part of the fun.
“Consumers are tired of the same old promotions and have become non-believers in promotional and advertising promises,” insists President Jin Howes. “Today's sophisticated manufacturer creates a point of difference to grow market share by adding value or a unique twist on the product benefits to compete in this very competitive marketplace.”
Riverside's flagship product is a light-activated talking sweepstakes mechanic which uses the customer's personalized message. Talking cans or caps are randomly inserted into the product mix. “When our talking can is opened by an unsuspecting consumer, that consumer will hear up to a 32-second audio announcement (‘You've Won!’ etc.),” explains Howes. A Dr Pepper Spider-Man Talking Can is currently at retail.
Another Riverside mechanic is the cash/prize can for soft drinks or beer — an instant prize or cash pops up through the can's pouring opening. “With a cash prize,” Howes reminds, “there are no fulfillment costs.”
May Advertising's Allan Meyer perhaps speaks for all of today's beverage P.O.P. suppliers when he sums up by saying, “The majority of our growth has come from innovative ideas, and being the first to our clients with those ideas. Sometimes the client comes up with the idea, sometimes we present it to them. But in the end, what helps the beverage companies grow is being the first to present these new ideas into the marketplace.”