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Rest Stop Puts Travelers In Motion

Published by: Promotional Consultant

Unexpected campaign encourages sightseers to “do.”

By Audrey Sellers

At most rest stops, you’ll find the usual restrooms, picnic benches and trash cans. But one rest stop on I-35 in Minnesota offered something surprising: a message to get moving. Not in a negative way, but in a motivating one. BlueCross BlueShield of Minnesota and the Minnesota Department of Transportation sponsored a campaign to encourage people to do 10 minutes of exercise three times daily. The campaign was aptly called “Do.”

Picnic tables at the rest stop were piled with an assortment of promotional items including embroidered socks, imprinted t-shirts, water bottles, pedometers and doggy clean-up bags. A large refrigerator magnet confirmed that routine activities like raking, vacuuming or walking count as exercise too.

But as cool as the products were, they weren’t free for the taking—travelers had to earn them. The requirement to get the goods? A 10-minute walk around the parking lot. As the clever campaign pointed out, a quick walk increased cardiovascular activity and reduced driver fatigue.

Sherri Lennarson, MAS, president of distributor Bankers Advertising Company (UPIC: BACADV) in Iowa City, Iowa, happened upon the rest stop activities when on vacation with her husband. “Our vacation was full of memorable experiences,” Lennarson says. “I never would have guessed a rest stop on I-35 in Minnesota would top the list.”

Lennarson was thrilled with what she saw: promotional products and an eager gathering of people. “I sought out the event coordinator and the more questions I asked, the more excited I got,” she says. “There was a tremendous amount of excitement and curiosity. The campaign engaged people—they were coming across the parking lot asking, ‘What’s going on? What do I have to do?’”

The chosen promotional products worked well with the campaign because they had appeal and could be readily used, according to Lennarson. “The target audience of this rest stop would have been families and travelers. They were products they could take back home and use in their day-to-day lives,” Lennarson explains.

As a vacationer, Lennarson was immediately impressed with the rest stop activities. “What a dynamite way to have a captive audience. It was just brilliant,” she says. “You get out to a rest stop and you’re tired. But then to get something like this that energizes you and pumps you up again—it was just a feel-good type thing.”

Lennarson suggests promotional consultants seek the opportunity to watch their campaigns in action. “Ask your client if you can attend one of their events or visit personally with one of the recipients of their imprinted products,” she says. “It’s so valuable to see what we do in action.”

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