SBJ/October 18 - 24, 2004/SBJ In Depth

Trying to solve attendance problems

Jeff Bouchy thinks the strongest promotional items today are the ones that make the old new again. Some of his most successful products are once-familiar items that are being reborn — to the delight of parents and kids alike — in a new context.

His Orlando-based Destroyer Promotional Products is the exclusive U.S. distributor of the Rubik’s Cube as a promotional product. The fad of the late 1970s and early ’80s is popping up as a sports giveaway — Destroyer has done them for the Seattle SuperSonics, the minor league baseball Aberdeen Ironbirds and others.

The strength of Rubik’s Cubes and other items like them is that they’re instantly appealing to kids but also draw in adults. A Rubik’s Cube doesn’t immediately say “sports” the way a rally towel or a miniature bat does, but sports events are increasingly becoming broad-based entertainment events anyway.

The Rubik's cube is one retro approach that appeals to children and adults.
Bouchy, president of the 3-year-old company, noted that bobblehead dolls were retro when they were rediscovered in the mid-1990s. Bouchy said this proves that you don’t need to reinvent the wheel; just find an old one that fires the imagination.

There are other ways to make the familiar new, Bouchy said. With poker enjoying success on television, some of his clients have bought team-logoed playing cards and held “Poker Nights” at the ballpark, with a local casino sponsor and fans playing for tickets and merchandise. The casinos provide the dealers, all wearing their official casino jackets to add to the fun.

Bouchy’s three-person company has revenue in the low seven figures. “Polyresin” items — such as bobbleheads, action figures and stadium replicas — make up 35 percent of his business, although 90 percent of this category is bobbleheads, Bouchy said. Apparel, mostly hats, makes up 29 percent. “Fan favorites,” such as logo balls, batting helmets, gloves and Rubik’s Cubes, are another 28 percent.

Despite his belief in making the old new again, Bouchy’s on the lookout for the next “new thing.” He’s done promotions with Wobblers, Eggsters and Alter Eggos — goofy miniatures all, visible at destroyerpp.com — as alternatives to bobbleheads, which he said are still hot among his mostly minor league clients.

“Minor leagues are the true barometer of promotions,” he said. “In the majors, people are coming to see star athletes and so much else. In the minors, a promotion can really make a difference.”

— Noah Liberman

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