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John Vo founded WHOOPLA in 2003 with a focus on providing solutions through memorable and impactful promotional products. "WE DON'T DO BORING," reads the top line of the Encino, California-based distributor's about page . Vo sees swag an art form. His company's projects often involve custom-manufactured items or multi-step processes. Rarely does he simply print a logo on an off-the-shelf item.
That mindset is on full display in WHOOPLA's latest self-promo.
WHOOPLA sends out two to three self-promo kits a year. Each is centered around a theme and, true to form, is never product-focused. The biggest of these kits is the summer edition, and this year's centers on COVID-19 safety, for obvious reasons. But rather than throwing a few masks and a hand sanitizer bottle in a box and calling it a day, WHOOPLA went all out.
"It is all about the messaging," says Vo. "Every item must relate to the theme in some way, whether through function, form or design, so that the entire package is cohesive. The most crucial aspect is that the kit must be FUN!"
Fun might be an understatement here. The self-promo, dubbed the "Germblasters Kit," is fully themed in retro '80s arcade game messaging and design. It comes with hand sanitizer, a no-touch tool, a reusable face mask and mints ("to save yourself from your mask-breath," says Vo), all inside a custom-printed pouch with custom-printed lining.
The interior of WHOOPLA's Germblasters Kit displaying the custom-printed box and card with messaging. | Credit: WHOOPLA
The whole package is delivered in a plain white mailer box with custom inside print that matches the theme. And every detail is meticulous and cohesive. The interior of the box has a mock coin slot and joystick/buttons, with the interior lid of the box acting as the arcade cabinet screen. On top of the pouch is a card that reads:
We long for the days when your only care in the world was having a pocket full of quarters and meeting your friends at the video arcade. Remember those? Ah, nostalgia!
We also miss you and hope you find this Germblasters Kit useful. We had tons of fun putting it together and hope you enjoy it as much as we do.
Stay safe and be well!
Your team at WHOOPLA.
Heck, even the undecorated exterior is intentional.
"The recipients don't know what the box is when they receive it, which adds an extra layer of 'surprise and delight' when they open it," says Vo. "The goal is to give our clients one example of how to reach out to their customers, prospects and employees during this time while we are all (hopefully) social-distancing and working from home," he adds.
The items in the kit, including a branded mask, hand sanitizer and a custom-printed pouch. | Credit: WHOOPLA
The other goal, as in any self-promo, is to show off WHOOPLA's creative capabilities and generate business. And in that respect, the kit has been a smash success. Vo says WHOOPLA has mailed around 100 of the kits so far, directly resulting in multiple orders totaling six figures in sales. With around 100 more kits hitting the mail soon, Vo expects more orders to come. WHOOPLA has already recouped the cost of the kit tenfold, he says.
It's no secret that self-promos are an extremely effective tool for distributors. And we've seen plenty of examples that have led to big sales . But this one, from WHOOPLA, is a textbook example of how to do it right. It highlights the powerful way promotional products can tell a story and showcases the many capabilities distributors offer beyond simply taking orders .
The custom-printed box features '80s arcade theming throughout, like the coin slot and joystick/buttons. | Credit:
“I believe we all need to practice what we preach,” says Vo. “Our self-promos skew more towards retail aesthetics and less towards trade show giveaway, so for me, a really good and effective self-promo is one that makes the recipient say ‘WOW! This is totally RAD! I would buy this!’ I guarantee they will remember that over some random item with a distributor's logo emblazoned on it."
That's good advice. And Vo had a bit more to add for fellow distributors.
“Have fun with your self-promos!” he says. “Most suppliers offer EQP for self-promos, and many offer special deals. Let suppliers help—they want to be our partners. If we all focus more on the messaging and the quality of our work, we can collectively push our industry forward.”