Valerie Wilson and Mike Liston are party people. At just about any significant gathering of the state's business elite, you'll find them there with bells on, or sometimes even more elaborate accessories (see photo at right). Their Bedford company, Off the Wall Ideas, not only serves dozens of local companies with clever marketing devices, but they regularly travel to New York to handle T-shirts, hats, frisbees and such for NBC TV's Today Show. That gig recently got them plugged in as the official representatives for the goodie baskets going out to winners and VIPs at the Daytime Emmy Awards - a big deal indeed, with everyone from Oprah to Ellen joining the cast of "General Hospital" for the after parties. And you can bet Val & Mike will be there - schmoozing and handing out the latest groovy tchotchkes.
So, what the heck is a tchotchke? Gifts, gizmos, and gadgets. It's what makes the world go 'round - well our world. Our spin on promotional products is that we want clients to hand out "the gotta have it" piece so they gain attention at their event. We hunt for the hottest, newest tchotchkes each year to be ahead of the game.
Give 'em an example of something cool you handle. Illuminated Ice Cubes, no seriously, well we do have these, but our Color Morphing Name Badges are a lot of fun. We were at an event recently and brought out the "kid" in everyone with these write-on, colorful illuminated badges - a big hit at a night event.
But you guys do much more than just hand out cool toys, right? Thanks to nine years of product placement with the NBC Network, we were recently awarded production of the Emmy Gift Bags. An exciting new venture for us, in fact the Daytime Nomination Party this month partners us with Good Housekeeping.
You've met some big stars. Got any fun stories - or dirt to dish - on celebrities you've met? Meg Ryan's lips are even bigger in person. Jim Carey is funnier than the taste of a clown to a cannibal. Mike is taller than Sylvester Stallone - really. Mike thought it was pretty nice of Bruce Springsteen's tour manager to give us family VIP seats at his concert because they loved our Today/Springsteen shirts so much. I personally was thrilled to meet Carol Brady [Florence Henderson] at the 50th anniversary of Today party. No, she was not holding a bottle of Wesson Oil.
What's the ultimate gig for someone in your line of work? Movies. Product placement and junket bags for movie promotion. The red carpet gift bags are indeed a sweet gig, and we are happy to be on our way with the Emmys.
So, can I have a couple of those Morphing Name Badges - to take home to my kids? I've heard that before. How many do you need? NH
This article appears in the October 2009 issue of New Hampshire Magazine