By Betsy Bennholz, Promotional Products Sales Manager at MEDiAHEAD

Ah, the thrill of the unknown! Merch boxes are like Pandora’s box, but with less Greek tragedy and more unicorn stickers. The anticipation of not knowing what awesome items await inside is a joyous roller coaster ride for the senses. The possibilities are endless.

Merch Box What’s in Your Merch Box? The Element of Surprise

The best items for a merch box depend on the target audience and the purpose of the merchandise. Here are some popular choices that tend to work well and hints to keep your branded items on the coveted prime real estate of a desk or the walking billboard of a person’s body:

  1. Exclusive or Limited-Edition Items: Anything that can’t be easily obtained elsewhere tends to generate excitement. This could include a cup or laptop decal, a unique animal shaped stress reliever, an absorbent desk or car coaster, or a reusable, foldable tote bag.
  2. Practical and Useful Items: Quality merchandise that people can use in their daily lives tends to have a longer lifespan. This could include items like mugs, water bottles, tote bags, or notebooks, often featuring creative designs or quotes related to the brand or theme.
  3. High-Quality Apparel: T-shirts, hoodies, hats, and other apparel items are classic merch box staples. The key is to ensure they are made from high-quality materials and feature attractive designs that people would want to wear beyond just supporting the brand.
  4. Personalized or Customizable Items: Offering the option to personalize or customize merchandise adds a personal touch. This could be through custom engravings, embroidered initials, or allowing customers to choose their preferred colors or designs.

Ultimately, the best items for a merch box are those that resonate with the audience, align with the brand’s identity, and offer value beyond just being a promotional item. Variety and creativity also play important roles in making a merch box memorable and desirable. We can create this experience from start to finish! Let’s talk.

Women-Centered Marketing

It’s been a summer for women, at least from an economic perspective. Female audiences have ruled the box office with Barbie, and live events With Taylor Swift and Beyonce.

Women have held a lot of economic power for years – there are more of us in the workforce, and we have all had wage increases compared the last decade. With more money and control over how we spend our money than ever before, we are spending it on goods and experiences that align with our personal interests.

It’s no wonder that Barbie, Beyonce and Taylor Swift have seen so much success.

Women-Centered MarketingBeyonce and Taylor Swift focused on women’s empowerment and used social media effectively to rally their female audience around their tours. Spending encompassed not only tickets, but hotels, restaurants, travel and sparkly clothes! My friends and I all bought fun outfits to go to the Barbie movie, and it was packed with other friends doing the same thing.

No wonder the movie has grossed $1.342 billion and is the highest-grossing film in Warner Bros.’ history.

Women’s sports have also had a record-breaking year, record views and sponsorships. The women’s FIFA World Cup brought in Record viewership across the globe.

Because of this success, marketers will rush to push pink and sequined merchandise.

They’re missing the point of marketing to women. It’s not about pink – it’s that when customer groups feel seen, heard and understood, they show up in a big way.

Barbie, Beyonce and Taylor Swift showed us that it’s always a big marketing win when you can make that happen.

MEDiAHEAD uses HP’s SmartStream and Mosaic software to make each label or shrink sleeve a truly original, one-of-a-kind piece of artwork. With our specialized software, a single vector file can be transformed into countless variations of original art. Hyper-customization can be incorporated into any pressure sensitive label, shrink sleeve or flexible packaging product.

Hyper-customization is the next frontier in packaging that can help a brand sell more.

Stand Out From the CrowdFor a campaign called I Have the Only One! Nutella printed seven million unique labels, each jar “like a piece of art,” stamped with its own unique code so it could be authenticated by collectors. The algorithm designed seven million completely different jars of Nutella for the campaign. The algorithm pulled from a database of dozens of patterns and colors to create the versions of Nutella’s graphic identity, which have been splashed across the front of jars.

The jars were sold through Italian supermarkets and were completely sold out in one month.


Hyper-customization - Stand Out From the CrowdAdding a personalized touch to a product or service can prove to be a brand’s unique selling proposition. Relentless efforts in making the packaging stand out among the clutter and the heavy investments in doing so are evident. Personalized packaging has assumed more importance as brands not only want to cater to the clients’ needs and wants but obviously want to make a lasting impact by tapping the emotions and desires of customers. Such personalization in packaging reaps long-term loyalty, brand recall and registration.

If you would like to know more about how MEDiAHEAD could help you with hyper-customization for your next project, please give us a call.


Brand Identity CaseThe Supreme Court is considering a case about poop jokes: Jack Daniel’s vs VIP Products. The case is about whether VIP Products infringed upon the whiskey maker’s trademarked bottle shape and label when it sold a toy named “Bad Spaniels”. There is copy on the bottle about a dog dropping “the old No.2 on your Tennessee carpet.”

Sounds like a pretty silly case already!

“Jack Daniel’s loves dogs and appreciates a good joke as much as anyone. But Jack Daniel’s likes its customers even more and doesn’t want them confused or associating its fine whiskey with dog poop.”

The real question is how to balance the needs of the marketplace with the demands of free speech. Trademark law in our industry, which gives companies an exclusive right to use the imagery associated with their brand to market their products, necessarily limits free speech.

Federal trademark law sometimes permits companies to sell products that parody a famous trademark – you would think that this is the case here. Most consumers are smart enough to tell the difference between an authentic product and a joke seeking to mock or ridicule that product.

There was also a previous case Louis Vuitton v. Haute Diggity Dog, which involved dog toys make to look like handbags. But they didn’t associate their product with feces.

It will be interesting to see what happens, but it is unlikely that a judge will come up with a better way of protecting both companies’ interests. I certainly wouldn’t want a parody of MEDiAHEAD going around!

You can learn more about the case here.

Most employees decide within 10 days whether they’ll stay, and 33% of new employees quit within their first six months.

What are you doing to make your new employees feel welcome?

New Team Member AppreciationWe recently completed a project for a large company here in Kansas City. They wanted to congratulate their new hires who were graduating from college and make them feel excited prior to their first day at work.

We mailed kits in a branded box with their new business cards, personalized notepads, a customized pen and a yeti water bottle. There was also a customized Happy Graduation card personalized with their name and department signatures.

We’ve done welcome kits with candles, baby succulents (so cute), company t-shirts and gear. This is also something that can be added to one of our marketing portals, so HR or the department head can execute in minutes.

Communication is so important!

Communication helps ensure that new team members feel excited about starting their new career with your company.

New Team Member AppreciationYou should have the new hire paperwork completed prior to their first day. Be considerate and send important information for them to review in advance. Reading the company handbook, knowing their benefits and having information on their other team members is important. Even now more than ever, because so many of us are working from home and our only interaction is through Zoom.

You could even send out an email with their picture and a short bio to team members, so they can be welcomed with a smile during Zoom meetings. And you could ask the new employee to help you with their bio by including some fun, personal facts about them.

Retention is the new acquisition.

Make sure new employees know how much you appreciate them joining your company. And if you need any help, you know where to find us. 🙂

New Team Member Appreciation

Kathryn McDanielBy Kat McDaniel, Principal at MEDiAHEAD

We do a lot of client gifting around here, but since the start of COVID we’ve witnessed a shift towards gifts being sent to employees. It’s a welcome change and really warms our hearts! We get so much feedback about how much they’ve enjoyed the packages. It makes employees happy that their employer showed them gratitude for hanging in there and rolling with the punches amidst all of the uncertainty these days.

The act of putting together these packages got me thinking about why sending thoughtful correspondence like this matters, and why care packages are a useful relationship maintenance tool.

All relationships require maintenance.

BBQ Utensils and moreThis is especially important for long-distance relationships and while we’re working remotely. Care packages can help maintain a relationship over long distances and start new ones for employees that are being onboarded during the pandemic. Research has shown the importance of maintaining relationships for our health and happiness, especially when we’re all feeling so isolated. Relationships that are well maintained are more satisfying – the people in them report higher commitment and like each other more.

Relationship maintenance takes many forms, including open communication and assurances or telling an employee that you care about them. The act of sending a package communicates not only caring, but that you were thinking of them and took time out of your busy life to send them something meaningful. Sending letters containing words of encouragement can communicate emotional support. Sending money or gift cards for restaurants your employee enjoys or stores you know your employee needs to buy things from is a form of tangible support. If you include a handwritten letter or card, sharing this way is engaging in open communication which can help you feel closer to those who are working remotely and can help build and deepen a relationship.

An Example from a Bank

The "staying grounded" care package.One large bank based in Kansas City sent out 2,200 packages to show “Our Heartfelt Appreciation.” They included a locally made personalized face mask to let their employees know “We’ve got you covered,” popcorn so they could “enjoy a virtual pop and popcorn with your team,” and a branded mug with The Roasterie coffee and tea to say “Thank you for staying grounded in our shared commitment to our core values.” I think it was so thoughtful that they also chose all local vendors to execute this project!

Funny story… I got a call last week from a woman who demanded to know why MEDiAHEAD had sent her a box – she was really angry because she hadn’t ordered anything from us! I asked her if she was employed by this particular bank. When she said yes, I told her it was a good thing – her bosses had sent her a lovely “care” package.

The Element of Surprise

Smart Cookie care package.One of the reasons care packages are so satisfying is that they contain an element of surprise at both receiving the package and uncovering what is inside. Surprise for many is a key component of joy. Care packages also require planning and thoughtfulness. Sending one lets someone know you are thinking of them. I LOVE getting a surprise in the mail!

We recently worked with Sheri at Smart Cookies on a project for veterinarians – she baked 3,000 chocolate chip cookies for us in one week. I have to admit that we ate quite a few extras while we were packing, they were irresistible! ( is another great local vendor). The client wanted to convey “during these tough times, we wanted to reach out and say thank you for all you do for the patients in your care. Enjoy these treats, and know we’re always thinking about you.”

Not Just for Business

Personally, we can also cheer up a friend when they’re down or give them an ego-boost during these trying times. Supportive words like these can be included in a card inside of a care package that you curate for them. Send a friend a coffee shop gift card when you know they need the extra energy boost – care packages are tools for expressing nonverbal affection to complement verbal support you’ve given over the phone or video chat.

My absolute favorite care package last week included home deliveries.

Everyone loves donuts.We just finished a portal for a client and their CMO asked if I would frame the cover of their latest magazine for her team members and deliver it with cards she mailed to me, and coffee and donuts. We had worked on their portal remotely all through the pandemic – they wanted to surprise their sales team at their annual meeting a few weeks ago. It was so fun to see all the team members in person after all those emails and zooms.

While most people are thankful to be employed during a time when so many are out of work, they’re still facing their own unique challenges while working from home; juggling work deadlines, household responsibilities, and even having to attempt to simultaneously home school their children.

Employers know this is stressful and should show their support for how hard their teams are working.

Do you ever receive or send care packages? If yes, have they improved your relationship with the sender/receiver?
Leave a comment below and let me know!

By Michele Stillwell, Director of Marketing and Accounting at MEDiAHEAD

Have you ever been looking for that one file and it took you forever to find it? I recently experienced this problem. Picture this: You get art files from someone and rename them. Then you save the files somewhere… A month or two goes by, and guess what? You need that file again.

Searching and searching, you forgot the name of the file. And you forgot where you saved the file. After looking for an hour or so… you finally find it! Whew.

It’s especially frustrating now working from home. Using a remote connection to your company files can be frustrating in itself, let alone trying to find a file.

This is where a marketing collateral asset management tool comes to the rescue.

MEDiAHEAD: Marketing and Distribution PortalsWith an asset management tool, all your collateral is online in a central repository. You can log into your portal site and see your collateral in real-time. Even better, you have the ability to customize the collateral, edit content and download. All at your fingertips.

You can upload anything to the asset management tool: documents, videos, graphics, working files, photo libraries and even physical merchandise. You have the control; it makes finding things super easy.

With a collateral asset management tool, you can:

  • Upload documents quickly and easily
  • Manage version control
  • Archive files that are out of date
  • Allow individual users to edit & customize content while still controlling your branded elements
  • Easily search and find any documents or file by campaign, product targeted audience or any other attribute you choose
  • Order materials digitally or to be printed on-demand and shipped globally
  • Control security access each user receives – what they can view, edit and order, and payment options as well
  • Choose your payment options – including credit card payment, point programs, internal cost center allocations or purchase orders

Brand Control

One thing I learned when working for a large corporation is that brand control is extremely important. When you have an asset management tool, you have control of the continuity of your brand.

There are several other reasons to have such a tool for your sales and marketing team. One stop shopping for your team for client handouts, client gifts and more.

  • You can store your trade show booth and giveaways on your management tool, manage orders for multiple shows in your portal, print customized collateral on-demand for that specific show and ship directly to the location… all from your own desk.
  • Provide turn-key campaigns to channel partners, allowing them to co-brand materials, upload prospect lists and execute marketing or print campaigns all from your asset management tool.
  • Allow your Sales team to easily search and download marketing assets for prospects, and order materials to be shipped out to the field or directly to the client.

Michele StillwellThink about all the time you can save with the organization and efficiency you get in an online marketing portal! Give me a call. I will walk you through one of our portals and show you where you can save time and stay on brand.

For more information, check us out at








By Michele Stilwell, Director of Marketing and Accounting at MEDiAHEAD.

Attention Span is Gone

For a long time, we’ve been told that our attention spans are diminishing. There is so much information, so many devices and channels vying for our attention, that we can’t possibly focus on one thing for very long. Combine that with the economic pressures, financial expectations, and the race to keep up in the digital world, and you get something called short-termism.


Short-TermismShort-termism is fueled by your fixation on metrics, and concentration on quick wins to move the needle. It suggests an immediate, attention-grabbing impact over strategically driven, brand-building initiatives that have a higher long-term ROI. Shorterm-ism is Myopic.

By moving the needle – whether in sales, marketing or social media analytics, the pressure to demonstrate an uptick in growth is relentless. While you may signal towards growth in the short-term, this strategy erodes the underlying brand equity and robs you of a chance at something sustainable.

Build The Brand

If long-term brand building is much more conducive to growth, why do so many people fall in the trap of short-termism? Because brand building is difficult.

We truly demand everything from brands. Consider this quote from Barbara E. Kahn’s book Global Brand Power:

“A brand must be elastic enough to allow for reasonable category and product-line extensions, flexible enough to change with dynamic market conditions, consistent enough so that consumers who travel physically or virtually won’t be confused, and focused enough to provide clear differentiation from the competition. Strong brands are more than globally recognizable; they are critical assets that can make a significant contribution to your company’s bottom line.”

That’s a huge order, but it’s a necessary one if you truly want to grow and focus on long-term brand building.

Angela Richards, KFC’s Group Marketing Director, discussed the importance of creating a lasting emotional connections, even when the immediate goal might be a shot-term tactial one.

“We have a really big innovation funnel and a really strong retail calendar, but for us more recently, that functional retail calendar has morphed so the brand directs the retail calendar – and the brand’s job is to create that emotional connection,” she said.  “It’s okay now to say we are less reliant on new product development to drive those sales, because that emotional connnection of the brand leading the retail calendar is driving core sales and core growth.”

Whether it’s a rush to keep pace with the digital era, the lure of immediate ROI or the importance of brand building, many companies are sacrificing long-term marketing strategy for quick wins.

A balance in today’s world is essential if you want to grow your business.

By Kat McDaniel, Principal at MEDiAHEAD.

I can’t even begin to count the number of prospective clients and strangers that ask me if I am veggiebellie‘s mom.

veggiebellie on Instagram

My daughter, Amy McDaniel has 5,580 followers on Instagram. In a very loving way, I’m frequently portrayed as the wacky human that doesn’t understand technology or how to properly operate my iPhone. She also documented my cancer journey and most recently my wedding.

If you follow her, you probably know that my husband is now featured in the fun (or being made fun of). Last Friday, there were many funny clips of us playing Trivial Pursuit… and Rieger Whiskey was involved.

Recently, I was pitching a large account when one of the attendees raised her hand and asked if I was veggiebellie’s Mom. At the Kemper Museum Gala I had no less than four people approach me and ask the same question. And this morning, at one of The Enterprise University Classes with Willoughby, I was approached while getting a cup of coffee. We both laughed and I said, “Yes. I’m the infamous Mom of Amy.”

The Power of Human Connection

I’m using this example to show the power and reach of social media through human connection.

Most brands need to get personal and funny to keep their clients engaged. No one wants to see an infomercial on what your company does.

Wendy’s is a perfect example – the secret to their social media success is confidence and culture. Their playful approach allows them to make their points in a likeable way, like trolling McDonald’s on National Frozen Food Day with tweets poking fun that their beef is frozen. More than three million people follow the brand for their saucy tweets and good natured burns.

Izzy head shotIt’s Not About Selling Product

Social media should not be about selling your product, it should be about people getting to know your brand and your core values.

A good brand should live in the hearts and minds of the people who you’re trying to engage.

At MEDiAHEAD, we show people our brand and core values through the stories we tell. Whether it’s another blog written by our mascot Izzy, or a story about our unique and fun referral gifts… giving people a window into our company and culture is important.

Are you sharing your stories?

By Michele Stilwell, Director of Marketing and Accounting at MEDiAHEAD

Window Clings Definition: Window cling decals are a popular material used for graphic displays. Window cling is made from a thin vinyl film that clings to various surfaces. Typically, they are displayed on glass windows and doors. However, they can also be displayed on smooth plastic or metal.

Have you ever wondered or wanted to print some cool window clings? Well, they’ve come a long way since the clings that the minute the sun hit it, it would peel or curl or worse… simply fall off. You can print all kinds of window clings now. Some can cling on the inside surfaces of your building, and some are super resilient to weather and can adhere to the outside of a window. Yes, they can survive outside in the storms, heat, snow and wind.

The other great part of using a window cling is you can reuse it, because it does not have any adhesive glue. It is just a cling.

The particular window clings in the picture below were printed on a dusted vinyl material that allows for some light to come through, but still offers some privacy.    This gives you a kind of etched or frosted glass look. You can do lettering and special shapes or full panels.

Window Cling Sample 1 Window Cling Sample 2

MEDiAHEAD would love to help you print your next window clings!

Soon you will see a display of window clings on all of our windows at 3525 Roanoke, Kansas City, MO 64111.

So stop by and chat with us… or contact us through our website.