Whist walking around Solihull town centre one Saturday afternoon I notice a large amount of balloons being held by children. At first glance I notice they are white balloons with a green logo as the children happily wave them around. In some cases the kids are play fighting with the siblings, using the balloons as if they were giant pugil sticks (another name for the giant cotton buds as once used in the fighting game within 80's TV show Gladiators). After noticing a couple more balloons I recognise the logo as the retailer spec-savers opticians. The logo is very distinctive and stands out well printed in two colours. Green and black ink on a white balloon background. To save costs, instead of helium, air is used to fill the balloon and a cup and stick product is used to easily hold the balloon upright. The balloons were being handed out by staff and there are a couple of people dressed up as cartoon characters to attract children towards the free balloon handout. A banner was also present above the store giving more emphasis to who is organising this party. Its one of the best ways I've seen to market a brand around a town centre.  Whenever I think of opticians in Solihull I immediately think of Spec-savers. There are competitors in the town but I have to scratch my head to think who and where. I have it on good authority this isn't a one-off promotional event for this shop. They are doing something similar every Saturday. The cartoon characters change some weeks. It was a radio controlled robot on one occasion Similar to brian from the confused.com advert. Another week they had a remote controlled dog riding a tricycle. They always use the free balloon handout for kids promotion with a large banner above the store.


This simple but effective marketing concept has worked since 1936 when balloons were only available for marketing purposes. The promotional companies later branched out and started to sell the balloons for other users, such as party celebrations and weddings. Plain balloons came to the market later, although people think they came before printed balloons.  Personalised balloons are printed using a process called silk screen printing. While the underlying process hasn't changed over the years the technology involved has. Once performed by hand, nowadays machines collect balloons on a rotating arm, partially inflate a balloon and place it underneath a silk screen where ink is place onto the balloon. Once dried the balloon is deflated, warmed and bagged up.   As well as handing out personalised balloons for children to act as free advertising board, balloons can also brighten up a display stand. Car showrooms, exhibition displays and new store openings like to grab the attention of potential customers. Bright colours waving in the breeze with a logo emblazoned upon really works. A common addition is the balloon arch and banner. In the car garage example, the arch is usually placed around the latest car or current promotion. New shops have been known to add a large arch around the entrance of the recent opened venue. Banners on the other-hand can get placed a few metres away from the entrance of the promoted business. Often on railings or nearby buildings.  Permission maybe required in certain circumstances. They help with direction pointing and assist in fuelling the excitement of a promotion. Banners often include the logo, a large arrow pointing towards the promoted business. They might also include a current offer. For balloon frightened children and smaller kiddies,  a supply of  logo flags and stickers may be worth adding to the marketing amour. They are both really cheap to buy and might even end up as a permanent advert in a home if not thrown away. I remember collecting stickers as a child and left them stuck around the kitchen wall. With all this talk about promoting the brand it may be worth reminding to promote the offers to the parents of the children holding your balloon. Always have leaflets with promotion offers ready to hand out to parents. Adults are more accepting to promotional material if you have just handed their bundle of joy a free party balloon to begin with. Mention the offer on the leaflet and it may just be the start of a conversation leading to a sale. All because of  personalised  balloons.


Author : Nick has worked in the party, balloons and marketing industry for 10 years. Currently he specialises in party business on the internet selling printed party products including banners and ribbon. He is currently working on a program to sell Coventry wedding decor online.