The Voice Chair – an NBC collectible

The Voice Chair

NBC wanted something original and one of a kind for one of their top rated shows, The Voice. We created a chair that is a replica of the judges’ chair on The Voice. But there’s more – it sings, it spins! The chair’s sound – motion activated system plays The Voice theme song when spun.

We engineered the piece to find the ideal materials and sound components to keep correct scale and proportions, and still add all the bells & whistles. The 9” tall chair is a beautiful collector’s item and you’ll find them nestled in show cases at various affiliate stations around the country.

Big news!

We have exciting news. Over the last few months, we’ve been working on a merger and now it’s done and we can’t wait to tell you about it. True Marketing Group and Totally Merch! It’s official.

Totally Merch! has been rocking a small, stealth operation for over ten years which has been wowing clients with their responsive and intimate customer service, custom products, and aggressive pricing. But in order to keep their competitive edge, Totally Merch! needed a bigger back end: More buying power and capital resources to grow.

As a member of the Proforma network, True Marketing Group has a big back end. It’s OK, we LOVE to talk about our big back end. As the #1 promotional supplier in USA (Promo Marketing Magazine), Proforma has…

> Industry-leading pricing with suppliers
> East-to-West freight programs (2 or 3 days at ground rates)
> Exclusive vendor offers
> Multimedia products, not available to other promo distributors

And the best part is our clients still get the high-touch, intimate experience that only the most highly-experienced “merch girls” can provide. Did you think the best couldn’t get better? Think again.

Decorating with direct digital print

Digitally printed fabric patch

We were contacted by the folks at The Moxie Institute with regard to Tiffany Shlain’s newest project, “The Future Starts Here”, a mini-series on AOL-on. They wanted a jacket for their team and supporters, the decoration needed to be a full-color imprint to accommodate the film’s brand, and they wanted it to appear quite small on the garment. And, they wanted the garment to be black.

Screen print and embroidery were out of the question unless we could make significant modifications to the brand. We could have used one of those plastic-y heat transfers, but we don’t love the way those look or feel.

One of our favorite local decorators just got a new direct digital print machine. Typically, those machines are used for printing directly onto garments, but since they wanted a black garment that wouldn’t be possible. How about a fabric patch?

Close up of patch

After multiple iterations of the set up, and a couple false starts on the actual production, we figured out a final version at just 5.25″ x 1.25″, applied with a satin stitch embroidery all around. That little motor cycle guy is just under .5″ high. Looks pretty good, huh?

Now that we know this works, we’re going to dig in a bit more to find out if we can direct print on laser-cut patches. Imagine what you could do with a laser cut patch, applied to a garment, with some over-embroidery. Could be pretty cool….

Three low-cost tech items = one great giveaway!

Great Giveaway

GoGrid is a cloud infrastructure service, located in San Francisco. They have a tradition of holding all-employee quarterly kick-off meetings at which they enjoy giving away some sort of branded item. Budget is usually pretty tight, we want to find something useful, and also like it to be packaged in some way.

For Q4, we put together three items: A mobile phone holder which doubles as a USB hub, a colorful ballpoint/stylus, and a neoprene technology pouch. Hub and pen were inserted into the pouch. Total cost per unit, $7.69. Any one of these items alone are good, but when you put them together, it’s great!

GOGRID Q4 package

Connected, the film box

    A recent KQED fundraising evening was devoted to the televisision premiere of Tiffany Shlain’s film, “Connected: An Autobogography about Love, Death and Technology.” At every fundraising break, we got to admire the limited edition “Home Discusssion Kit”, a packaging project which took us nearly two years to complete.

    One of Tiffany’s previous projects, “The Tribe”, was packaged in a box constructed with full color offset litho laminated to board, secured with a magnetic flap. It held the DVD, a booklet and a set of “conversation cards” to facilitate discussion in both educational and private settings. The box and components were produced and assembled in China. For “Connected” Tiffany wanted a similar solution, but produced domestically and made with Eco friendly materials as much as possible.

    The first edition was produced under tight time constraints to be ready in time for the film’s debut at The Sundance Film Festival. It was similar to the final product, but featured an additional flap closure secured with Velcro buttons. The closure didn’t work perfectly — the board was too heavy, and the flap too small, to make the turn and stay flat.

    The flap problem was solved with the idea of using an embedded elastic closure, similar to a Moleskine journal. The implementation was tricky because we were avoiding the most toxic adhesives, which are also the strongest, to maintain a “greener” end product. As a result, it took some effort to get a solid glue edge where the back board met the tray so the elastic would not fall into that space when the package was opened. Meanwhile, the box graphics were being revised. The screened cover art was near-perfect from the first edition, but the back text was a moving target.

    Weeks and months went by. New prototypes were made, graphics revised, another short run was produced for an event. The booklets were complete, the conversation cards printed and collated. Finally, we reached a version which was approved for the final production run of 5000 units. But it wasn’t over yet. Again, we were running up against challenges with the Eco-friendly adhesive, this time about twenty percent of the boxes were experiencing a failure at the spine so we had all the boxes re-glued.

    At last, it was done. A full two years and some months after we began, the “Connected” limited edition kit, your gift with a $120 membership to KQED.

E3 game-o-rama

T-shirts, buttons and signs for CBS Interactive/Gamespot at the Electronic Entertainment Expo. E3 is the annual video game conference and show at the Los Angeles Convention center.

Sometimes, despite our best efforts, we get surprised by results. In this case, the T-shirts were our challenge. In an effort to balance the art size on the girlie tees, we spec’d a smaller imprint. But whoops… that didn’t work out. The detail on the small icons was pinched. Fortunately, our decorator was able to re-print more men’s tees in record time and everyone was happy.

On the plus side, the men’s tee really was quite fab and we’re reprinting it for ComicCon.

Disposable Film Festival 2013

What is the Disposable Film Festival? Selected by MovieMaker Magazine as one the world’s “coolest film festivals,” the Disposable Film Festival was created in 2007 by Carlton Evans and Eric Slatkin to celebrate the democratization of cinema made possible by low cost video technology: everyday equipment like mobile phones, pocket cameras, DSLRs and other inexpensive devices.

We love the DFF and are proud to be sponsors of the 2013 festival. Once again, we provided all the printed materials (postcards, posters, programs) and t-shirts for the festival opening.

This year, we decided to share the fun of opening night with some of our clients and invited friends from DPR Construction, GoGrid, UCSF, CBS Interactive, and the CA Assembly Democratic Leadership. We had SO much fun. For those of you who couldn’t make it this year, we’ll do it again next year.

DFFmobley DFFheader DFF2013_Mteecrop


We love happy clients :)

Received a client email today with this photo, subject line “Happiness” and the content said, “You da bestes!”.

T-shirts for an upcoming "Hackathon".

T-shirts for an upcoming “Hackathon”.

PPAI 2013 – Red Solo Cup

We’re finally back from Vegas, and gosh it’s good to be home. Clear air, fresh food, and good beer. Fabulous. AnneMarie and I have spent the last week at a Proforma Regional Meeting and then PPAI 2013, which is a gigantic trade show for promotional products.

Given that marketing, and particularly promo products, are typically the first thing eliminated from a budget, the promo industry really reflects the state of our economy. What we experienced this year was optimism. The show was the most busy we’ve seen since 2007-8 and there was a lot of fresh, new product.

Every year, there’s something that pops out as the promo meme of the show, and this year it’s the Red Solo Cup.

Continue Reading

Toy Dog T-Shirts

We get some challenging requests, this one was fun. Not profitable, but fun. Custom, embroidered t-shirts for a toy dog. Shopkick.