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Category: Novelty

Promotional Products & The Royal Wedding

On the eve of the royal wedding, I couldn’t help but share the role promotional products have played in the festivities.  From beer to pizzas to underwear to tea, the royal nuptials have shown us that there is no limit to the creativity of promotional products.  The Telegraph newspaper reports the sale of royal wedding merchandise could top $42.5 million.  Now, there’s something to celebrate!

The Advertising Specialty Institute (ASI) said that manufacturers are churning out mugs, plates, commemorative pens, compacts, ashtrays, shot glasses, book marks, reusable bags and car flags–all with a Will & Kate Royal Wedding theme.  Irreverent promotional products such as branded paper crowns and a commemorative plate reading “Thanks for the free day off” are also in high demand. 

Why are people buying promotional products?  Mostly to incorporate into personal and corporate events being hosted as a part of the celebration.  In fact, promotional products companies in the United Kingdom say that Will and Kate’s Royal Wedding has been the biggest occasion for promotional product consumer sales since the New Year’s Eve millennium in 2000.

 

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The Ramen Noodle Lapel Pin

act-ramen-lapel-pinThere are lapel pins to promote everything, so why not ramen noodles?
If you’ve ever lived in a college dorm or gone sofa-diving for quarters, you’re probably familiar with ramen. Ramen is a Japanese noodle dish that consists of broth, noodles, shredded vegetables and meat. You can find fresh ramen noodle stands all over Japan, where every town and city has its own regional variation on the dish.
In 1958, instant ramen noodles were introduced to the marketplace by Nissin Foods. Named the greatest Japanese invention of the 20th century in a Japanese poll, instant ramen allowed anyone to make this popular noodle dish simply by adding boiling water. Ramen in its dried, packaged form is very inexpensive. This explains why ramen is associated with poverty and struggling students–it provides basic nutrition on a limited budget.
Ramen is now a Japanese cultural icon. In fact, in 1994, a Ramen museum opened in Yokohama, Japan. In the museum, there is a Nissin Cup Noodles factory where visitors can make their own instant ramen to take home. Visitors get to design the packaging, choose the ramen flavor, and pick up to four ingredients. Sounds like fun, doesn’t it? Of course, the ramen may be inexpensive, but the trip to Japan may set you back a few yen.
As for the ramen lapel pin, it costs $5 (including shipping), about the equivalent of a week’s worth of ramen noodle meals.

The Magic of Pin Trading

act-disney-pin-trading-emblemCollectible lapel pins have been popular Disney souvenirs for decades, but it wasn’t until October 1999, to mark their Millennium Celebration, that The Walt Disney Company introduced the now wildly popular phenomenon of Disney pin trading.

Not surprisingly, when Disney does something they go all out. They have thought of everything for this theme-park-inspired sport, including an official pin trading etiquette guide!

To join in the Disney pin-trading fun, you have to start with something to trade. If you don’t already have a Disney collectible pin, you can get started with a handy starter set, a lanyard and four collectible pins. Pin traders wear the lanyards around their necks, using them to display their pins. Others secure their collectible lapel pens to hats, vests or sashes. Pins not intended for trading can be attached with secure screw-on locking backs which prevent them from becoming accidentally dislodged while riding the attractions or walking through the park. Pins for trading are best left with the original backs, which are easily removed.

To execute a trade, you simply approach another pin-displaying guest or a Disney Cast Member and make your request. Guests at the park can decline a trade, but Cast Members cannot refuse. In fact, they are required to make at least two trades per day!

Trading pins are available at kiosks in the park, at Disney stores, in the resorts, and online. Thousands of pins have been produced since the trading program began, featuring everything Disney—from characters to movies to theme park attractions. They range in price, style and availability, including special limited-edition pins. Each one bears a stamp on the back that details important collector information such as the limited edition number and copyright.

act-disney-wet-paintThere is an entire culture around pin-trading and lots of terminology specific to Disney pin trading. For example, there is a limited edition “surprise” pin known as Wet Paint. Only one thousand of these pins, depicting the wet paint sign used at Walt Disney World were produced. They were introduced as a “surprise” at certain kiosks and store and they are highly coveted. In fact, it is referred to as the Holy Grail and it typically sells for more than $200 on sites like eBay.

Another pin highly coveted by traders is the “Continuing the Pin Trading Tradition” pin. This pin cannot be purchased. It is awarded to guests by Cast Member Leaders at Disney resorts when they witness positive Disney Pin Trading etiquette or when they see a guest promoting the spirit of Disney Pin Trading. Disney has indeed worked its magic, creating an entire kingdom of faithful subjects who are devoted to the thrill of pin-trading. You can learn even more about the Magic Kingdom of Disney pin trading by clicking here.

20 Reasons for Lapel Pins

Flag lapel pinI love lapel pins because they an unobtrusive and tasteful way to make a statement about your beliefs, affiliations, and values.

These hard-working little metal billboards are one of the most low-cost, yet effective ways to deliver a message. They’re also excellent conversation starters, instant builders of camaraderie, and strong visual messages.  Looking for a reason to wear a lapel pin? I’ve got plenty for you.

You can wear a lapel pin to:

20. Dress Up or Decorate Your Lapel
19. Brag About Receiving Special Employee Recognition or a Prestigious Award
18. Identify Your Membership in a Fraternity or a Sorority
17. Demonstrate Your Affiliation with a Professional Organization
16. Support a Charity or a Cause
15. Cheer for a Sports Team
14. Show Your Holiday Spirit
13. Commemorate an Anniversary
12. Celebrate Your First Parachute Jump, Kayaking Adventure, or Yoga Retreat
11. Show That You’ve Joined a Club
10. Break the Ice at a Networking Event
9. Promote Your Business
8. Create Awareness About Breast Cancer, AIDS, Autism, etc.
7. Prove That You’ve Been to a Museum, the Hard Rock Café, Disneyworld, etc.
6. Encourage Pin Collectors and Traders to Trade with You
5. Promote a Sale, a Special Promotion, or an Upcoming Event
4. Identify Yourself as a Conference or Trade Show Attendee
3. Show Your Loyalty to a Branch of the Military or a Civic Organization
2 Advertise Your Interests, Hobbies, and Beliefs
1. Show Your Patriotism

So what are you waiting for? Give me a call and we’ll help you design your own personal lapel pin billboard today!

McFred and his McPins

act-micky-dPrick Fred Huebner with a pin, and you’d surely find McDonald’s flowing in his blood. Huebner, a McDonald’s franchise owner based in Garner North Carolina has worked for the fast-food giant since he was a student in high school. He financed his way through college working as a part-time swing manager for the chain, later accepting a full-time position with the company. When he became an operator in 1986, Fred had already been working with McDonald’s for fourteen years.

Although Huebner owned a small collection of McDonald’s award pins from his early days with the franchise, it wasn’t until his coin and stamp collections were stolen during a home break-in that he decided to shift his collector’s passion to McDonald-themed pins. Huebner says: “I figured I should work on a collection that people wouldn’t want to steal, and if they did, I’d know exactly where to find it”. He adds: “I also liked the idea that the pins were small, so I would be able to collect a bunch of them.” “A bunch” is a bit of an understatement:

act-mcclintonToday, the McBurglar would have a difficult time sneaking off with Fred’s collection of almost 30,000 pins neatly displayed in cases that line the walls of his corporate office. His collection also includes over a half million duplicate pins that he uses for trading or for sale. The collection spreads to every room in the building, except his wife’s office. After living with Fred’s growing collection in her home for years (it took up three entire rooms), she wants all of her space to be lapel-pin free!

act-mcarnoldThere is little doubt that Huebner owns the world’s largest collection of McDonald’s-themed pins: about 10 years ago, there were 3 other collectors in the United States who were contenders, but Fred, unlike his colleagues, has taken full advantage of the internet to further expand with his own website. Still, Fred insists that there are a few pins missing from his collection: “I’m still trying to get a regional award pin from Albany, New York. It is shaped like a Buccaneer ship with five canon holes. McDonald’s employees or owner/operators used to receive the pin as their first award, and then, each time they earned an additional award, the canon hole would be filled with a precious stone. I have a Buccaneer ship with 5 rubies in the canon holes, but I’m missing one with 5 diamonds. Most people don’t like to get rid of awards pins.”

act-mcfredFred’s stories about his lapel pins are fascinating, even if you’re not a part of the McDonald’s family. He considers the crown jewel of his collection to be a 100,000 Club 10-carat gold pin with a slashed arch logo that Ray Kroc (McDonald’s founder) used to give as an award to restaurants in the 1950’s for selling 100,000 hamburgers in a month. “I would have easily paid almost $500 for that pin”, explains Fred, “but I was lucky to find my first one for just $75.”

In addition to collecting pins, Fred has also been inspired to design lapel pins over the years. He has created a “Fries Pin Collection” for his team of employees that is very meaningful to him, and he is the wit behind many of the most comical pins in recent McDonald’s history. For example, during the infamous O.J. Simpson trial, one of O.J.’s alibis was that at the time of the murders, he was in the drive-thru at McDonald’s. In response, Huebner created a pin that reads: “I saw O.J. at McDonald’s!”.

act-mcelvisThe Bill Clinton-Monica Lewinsky scandal inspired Huebner to create a lapel pin that says: “I never touched her fries!” And, a few years ago, when Burger King introduced its so-called Stealth Fries in attempt to seize the “Best Fries” title from McDonald’s, Fred cheered on his company with a flurry of lapel pins that imagined what celebrities would say about McDonald’s fries. From “I’ll be back—for fries” (Arnold Schwarzenegger) to “The fries have left the building” (Elvis), the entire series is inspired.

Huebner will readily trade any pin  for which he has multiples. As for the future of his collection, he imagines that one day it will end up in the McDonald’s museum archives near Chicago. Until then, Fred plans to keep on collecting. As for me, I’m planning a visit to Exit 312 off of I-40 where I plan to eat some delicious McDonald’s French fries and marvel at McFred’s McPins in person!

Did You Earn Your Wings?

renee-jones-child-pilot

Click for the link to this cute pilot costume!

 Aah, the good ol’ days….I travel extensively and these days we’re lucky if the airline gives us a bag of pretzels and something to drink.  But do you remember the days when the airlines used to serve food on real china with real silverware?  Or the era when you could still get pillows and blankets and slippers without flying first class?

The airlines used to treat children well too.  As a kid it was so exciting to fly the friendly skies knowing that your reward would be a set of plastic wings “just like” the ones the pilots wore on their uniforms.  Didn’t every child dream of becoming a pilot or a flight attendant after receiving a junior wings lapel pin?

Those airline lapel wings are now pieces of nostalgia sought after by collectors.  Manufacturers started issuing lapel pins in the 1930’s.  Today there are over 900 known types of junior wings.  They have been made from cast metal, stamped tin, plastic, cloth, paper and vinyl.  Small plastic wings sell for about $1 each on the collectibles market whereas metal wings command about $25 a pair.  As for those childhood memories?  Well, they’re priceless.

Welcome To Our Blog

A Frog, A Prince, and The Queen of Lapel Pins

i_0051Hi there and welcome to my blog. I’m R. RenĂ©e Jones aka The Lapel Pin Queen. I know, I know. You’re probably thinking that being the queen of lapel pins is rather insignificant. That wearing such a title is akin to being the Worm Gruntin’ Queen or the Queen of the Gilroy Garlic Festival.

But as any good queen will tell you, we women who are bestowed with royal titles take our duties very seriously! Although lapel pins are small (usually no more than an inch in height), they are far from insignificant.

Lapel pins have a rich history (for example, did you know that they have been an important part of every American war?). Furthermore, lapel pins are an unobtrusive and tasteful way to make a statement about your beliefs, affiliations, and values. Ask people about the pins they wear on their lapels, and you’ll most likely get engaging stories and deeper insight into them. Lapel pins are powerful and impactful; they are excellent conversation starters, instant builders of camaraderie, and strong visual messages.

That’s why I have taken it upon myself to exalt these hard-working little metal icons. This blog will be devoted to their world and to the worlds of the people who wear, collect and trade lapel pins. I will endeavor to share the stories behind the pins while sharing the history, etiquette, manufacturing techniques and newest innovations behind these hard-working messengers that grace the suits and shirts and hats and lanyards of people all over the world.

I encourage you to send me a photo of your favorite lapel pin and the story behind it so I can feature it here on this blog. And in that spirit, I thought I’d share the meaning behind one of the lapel pins that means the most to me. It belongs to princely husband, Robert.

the-princeI met my husband through my involvement with the Disabled Americans Veterans Auxiliary (DAVA), an organization that is near and dear to my heart. Robert and I had our second date at a DAV and DAV Auxiliary convention in Puerto Rico.

While on that date, we learned about the legend of the coqui frog. The coqui is a small tree frog indigenous to the Puerto Rican rain forest. It is a tiny little thing, but it makes a loud two-toned sound from dusk to dawn that sounds like this: ko-kee. The sound is beloved by the people of Puerto Rico because, according to local legend, ko-kee or “co-qui” means “I love you.”

After our special second date, Robert decided to wear a coqui frog every day on his lapel as a symbol of his love for me.  He still wears it to this day.  Ask my husband why he is wearing a frog on his shirt, jacket or lab coat and he’ll tell you a story about a frog, a prince, and The Queen of Lapel Pins.

Tell us all about your special lapel pin story! Fill in our Online Form or print out a Paper Form and mail it to us.

Click here to email your lapel pin photo.

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