Five of the Biggest Giveaways of All Time

Everyone likes getting free stuff, airline miles, goody bags, and the best free item of all time, money are just a few of the things people like to get for free. It’s no secret that giving people free things is a great way to promote your company or service. Branded giveaways are a way to make a connection to your audience and put your logo into their hands in a way that will be seen time and time again.

So, if promotional giveaways are a great way to connect with your audience, how you do beat the rush and give people things in a way that will make them feel connected to your company? The fact of the matter is even giving away promotional items takes some skill in order to really make them memorable. So who are the best and what is it that they did so well? Here’s a short list of the coolest giveaways of all time.

Google Gmail

Okay so its 2013 and you’d be hard pressed to find anything especially cool about Gmail’s free service other than the fact that it’s a quality free email service but if it was 2004 having a Gmail account was as cool as you could get in the world of tech. Even in 2004 the digital landscape was littered with free email. Hotmail, Yahoo mail, and AOL all provided free email services as well as a host of other companies so what did Google do to propel their brand to the top of the pack? They made getting a Gmail account something really special.

They initially released Gmail to a handful of Silicon Valley insiders and only allowed them to each invite five other people to Gmail. Suddenly, the tech world was buzzing with Gmail haves and have not’s. Having a Gmail account meant that you were an insider, close to the Holy Grail of Silicon Valley insiders. Using Gmail wasn’t especially special, but getting address meant that you were special. Google knows cool and they used it to the max when launching Gmail.

Oprah’s Final “Favorite Things”

This was perhaps the pinnacle of the Queen of giveaways epic giveaway run. Oprah knew how to build audience loyalty while promoting any number of corporate brands and make herself look like a cross between Mother Theresa and Gandhi while doing it. For the final giveaway on her “Favorite Things” episode her staff picked a group of people who had given back to their communities and super fans. Oprah gave each audience member a $2,000 diamond watch, a Nikon camera, and a seven-day cruise. It’s been years since Oprah had her over the air network show and people are still talking about her epic giveaways. How cool is that?

Tampa Bay Rays Evan Longoria Figurine

When it comes to cool giveaways no one knows how to get a fan motivated better than Major League Baseball. They’ve been using giveaways to put fans in the seats for over a century now and have got it down to a science. In 2012 the Tampa Bay Rays gave away an Evan Longoria figurine that reenacts Longoria’s walk-off home run against the New York Yankees on the last day of the 2011 regular season, which took the Rays to the playoffs. The figurine also has great detail and an awesome action pose. So what makes it cool? Fans love the figurine and it is an instant baseball collectible. Great marketing on a limited budget.

McDonald’s Teenie Beanie Babies

How can you make a list of the coolest giveaways of all time without mentioning Mickey D’s? The fact of the matter is you can’t. When McDonald’s offered Teenie Beanie Babies toys with Happy Meals the demand was so strong McDonald’s had to limit how many Teenie Beanie Babies could be purchased and even then McDonalds ran out halfway through the campaign. What makes this cool? It was one of the most successful promotions of all time.

The AOL Disk Giveaway

In the early days of computing, way back in the 90s America Online’s giveaway promotion sent discs packed with AOL software to everyone that breathes air to sustain life. The disks included a month of free service and the campaign was a huge success. That single sustained promotion made them a huge player and established the brand as a household name. It was really cool, because it worked incredibly well, unfortunately when the technology market changed AOL stayed the same and now they are mostly just remembered for their awesome giveaway and that makes it cool.

Gregg Rusley is a digital content developer for He specializes in finding creative ways to meet marketing or recognition goals with personalized merchandise.

Gregg Rusley


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