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The Strategic Use of Promotional Products: A Case Study in Effective Marketing

In the world of marketing, the use of promotional products has long been recognized as a powerful tool to enhance brand visibility and influence consumer behavior. However, the key to success lies not just in distributing products, but in strategically leveraging them to yield a measurable return on investment (ROI). This approach was exemplified by a unique initiative undertaken by the Montana Film Office at the Montana Department of Commerce, demonstrating how thoughtful planning and creativity can translate into tangible results. Does this seem like a wild undertaking and too much to handle? Don’t worry! AlphaGraphics can help with the top market research and the newest high-quality promotional products to help your marketing campaign succeed.

The Study

The Montana Film Office faced a compelling challenge: how to attract high-profile stars and filmmakers to consider Montana as a prime filming location. Traditional advertising methods were unlikely to reach this elite audience effectively. Instead, they needed a novel approach to capture attention and spark conversations within Hollywood circles.

Their solution? Utilizing carefully selected promotional products as conversation starters. The winning choice was a set of high-quality coasters, priced at approximately $20 for a boxed set. While this might seem extravagant for a free giveaway, the investment was strategic. The coasters were intended for several hundred influential individuals within the film industry—individuals capable of making location decisions based on reputation, networking, and personal experiences—who could attract the desired attention for the state’s winning qualities for filming locations.

The Results

The success of this endeavor hinged on three core criteria:

  1. 1. Exclusivity and Quality: The coasters had to be exceptional—worthy of gracing the coffee tables of Hollywood's elite. A mundane item would simply go unnoticed; quality was paramount to attract attention as well as start a conversation.
  2. 2. Uniqueness: Being merely nice wasn't sufficient. The product needed to stand out, creating intrigue and prompting inquiries about the source.
  3. 3. Storytelling Potential: Each coaster had to embody a narrative. This wasn't just about branding; it was about sparking curiosity and initiating dialogue.

The chosen coasters met all these criteria with finesse. Imprinted with the Montana Film Office's logo, they were not just aesthetically pleasing but also symbolized a meaningful cause. Crafted by autistic adults, the coasters represented a creative endeavor that resonated with the film industry's values—supporting inclusivity and unique talent.

The Impact

The underlying strategy was subtle yet potent: by placing these coasters in the hands of influential individuals, the hope was to sow the seeds of curiosity and interest in Montana's filming potential. The goal was not an immediate return, but rather the cultivation of relationships and conversations that could bear fruit in the future.

Of course, this approach isn't universally applicable. It hinges on the client's reputation and the industry context. The broader lesson here extends beyond the realm of promotional products. It underscores the importance of earning the right to engage with clients—providing value and results rather than mere commodities. The Montana Film Office's initiative serves as a testament to the efficacy of strategic thinking in marketing. It's about leveraging every touchpoint to craft narratives and build connections.


The story of the Montana Film Office's coasters is a testament to the transformative potential of promotional products when deployed with strategic intent. It highlights the importance of aligning marketing efforts with broader objectives, understanding the nuances of audience engagement, and harnessing creativity to drive impactful outcomes. As marketers, we can draw inspiration from this example, realizing that every product, every interaction, is an opportunity to weave narratives and cultivate relationships that endure beyond the transactional.

Promotional products serve as so much more than a simple marketing tool to get your brand out to new customers. They serve as a launching point for your business, starting conversations and building relationships with potential clients in a way that can help show what your brand’s values are while keeping your company name at the forefront of their minds. Let AlphaGraphics help with your next promotional product campaign- from designing your imprint to selecting the perfect product for your business needs and message. Call us today to discuss the world of possibilities available to you!

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