The philosophy behind corporate promotional items has always been that “they offer an opportunity to get a brand name out to a target market” – and keep it there.

Yawn… how many pens, coffee mugs and ball-caps can a person use?  OK let’s get semi-current and talk mouse-pads, jump-sticks and laptop bags?… stop it.

Having moved last year, I was baffled by just how much promotional payola I had actually collected.  My local charity clothing bin received a wardrobe of logo’d golf and t-shirts… at least I felt better about that.

Which is why when I was recently at Contagious Marketing Conference in Vancouver BC, the sight and smell of beautiful red apples on meeting/break tables stopped me in my tracks.

Why?  Because (as you can see from the pic I snapped) the apples had “in-grown logos”.

People were chatting about them.  Eating them.  I’m talking bypassing the blasé cookies, muffins and other carbo-conference snacks to happily chomp on fruit, an often forgotten food group at corporate events.

The apples were a hit.  I had to find out more.

Let’s start with the company behind them – Ipsos, a global survey-based marketing research firm.  They test advertising, study audience responses to various media and generate really big reports.  Dry?  Yes, but if you’re a marketer wanting research metrics, it’s a necessary and important part of the mix.

Stay with me. Before your eyes glaze over, let’s talk about the correlation here.  Besides the fact that there’s a “tree” in Ipsos branding, apples are metaphors for:

  • Knowledge – as in the story of Adam and Eve in the Book of Genesis; the Apple is the fruit from the Tree of Knowledge.
  • Growth – as in “planting seeds” and growing business.
  • Possibility – when you think about it, the core of an apple contains apple seeds which contain all the information needed to create an apple tree which means more seeds, more trees, and so on.  “The infinite power of possibility”… get it?  Now I’m excited!

How did they do that?  My question exactly.

There were way too many far-fetched theories going around the conference so I decided to get the facts.  I called Ipsos and they happily directed me to Raven Ridge Cidery, an award-winning fruit cider producer and grower of premium BC apples.  This cool company has created a refreshingly healthy alternative to corporate giveaways… here’s how:

  1. In the spring, they select hearty individual apples growing on their trees and cover them with special bags.
  2. In the fall, the bags are removed to reveal a pure white apple grown to full size.
  3. Corporate logo stencil/decals are then placed on each apple and Mother Nature does her thing.  The fruit is left on the tree until fully ripened to a rich red colour.
  4. The apples are picked and decals removed leaving the white imprint of the logo.  Ta-da!

Laborious?  Uhuh.  Brilliant?  Yes.

You could say that Ipsos only promotional faux pas was the limited shelf life of an edible product.  Yet I actually still have one of the apples on my desk… and my office is getting a little ripe.

But I’ve kept it because every time I look at it I think “be original.” It’s gotta go, but not before leaving a very lasting impression.


From branding synergy and conference buzz to the symbolism around apples, Ipsos delivered on their brand promise to “always challenge, provoke and stimulate thinking.”  Hmmm… a marketing research company using logo’d apples as a brand strategy and promotional tool?… think about that.