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June 10, 2005

Keytags are a popular and effective way to drive ad specialty messages.

Manufacturers say that because of the popularity of keytags, these items are an ideal—if not the ideal—promotional product. "Keytags provide one of the best ways for a company to promote its brand on a daily basis," said Jeff Schlesinger, president of Tracer Tags, Woodland Hills, Calif. "Most people carry loyalty or discount cards on their keychains that promote the brand each time the keys are used."

Anna Sun, general manager at Tonata Enterprise, Chino, Calif., agreed that keytags are an essential item, thus making them the promotional item of choice. "The end-user will be exposed to the logo on the keytag as frequently as he or she uses his or her keys," she noted. "This allows the brand to get ample exposure for the money."

Sun said that Tonata—which produces high-end metal keytags—has seen no significant increase or decrease in keytag sales, but that automotive, real estate and construction markets are generally interested in the product.

Schlesinger agreed. "Car dealerships, car rental agencies, pet stores, grocery stores and gyms are the largest markets that use keytags with loyalty incentives," he said. However, Schlesinger said that thinking outside the box is a great way to attract new markets. "Large video rental companies have shifted the way they are conducting business," he explained. "This has opened a window of opportunity for these companies to create loyalty incentive programs, and the use of keytags makes perfect sense for this new revolution."

Schlesinger, who maintains that keytags are an industry mainstay, said that Tracer Tags manufactures 30 mil., polyester-laminated keytags in any shape and size. "Keytag sales tend to fluctuate depending on the economy and the type of promotional campaign," he said. "The level of sales also depends on whether or not the keytags are adaptable to a variety of markets."

When asked about the challenges of manufacturing keytags, Schlesinger said that the technical details are most difficult. "Getting the right artwork and copy are always the most challenging design aspects," he said. "Some distributors have a hard time understanding that if they put garbage in, they will get garbage out. My first suggestion is to keep the wording simple and the brand visible."

For Tonata, Sun offered, "We are concerned about stiff industry competition, as well as the weak dollar," she said. "The decrease in the value of money usually indicates an increase in importing costs."

New Ideas

Schlesinger noted that recently, polyester laminates and laser-engraved plastics have developed. "These materials have become very popular among our customers because of their longevity," he said. He also noted that Tracer Tags currently manufactures keytags in polyester, metal, PVC, Styrene and polycarbonate.

Sun said that Tonata has implemented a new imprinting method using 3-D mirror etching. "The eye-catching etching process allows a logo to be shown in a shiny mirror finish on a satin silver background, giving it a 3-D, reflective look," she said.

Schlesinger also said that Tracer Tags has brought new meaning to lost-and-found and is using its keytags as a tracking device. "We specialize in registered identification tags that have a lost-and-found recovery service attached to them," he explained. The tags are registered free of charge on one of the company's Web sites (www.tracertags.com) and can be affixed to any item—including keys. If an item is lost, the finder contacts Tracer Tags, and the company's recovery team will provide the owner with the finder's contact information. "With more than one billion keys lost each year, automobile dealers, rental agencies and even the federal government have purchased the tags," he said. "The tags are good for seven years and are a great way to promote a brand while providing a service that end-users find valuable," Schlesinger added.

Sun offered this valuable imprinting advice. "Distributors should always recommend laser engraving, rather than screen printing, for metal keytags," she said. "Laser engraving will last the lifetime of the keytag."

Schlesinger advised distributors to be aware of design trends. "Pay close attention to key designs," he said. "This provides a glimpse at the future and may open up a new market." He said that Tracer Tags recently received an order for a small, self-adhesive keytag for an automobile dealer. "Most of the new electronic car keys are larger than standard keys, and people tend to carry them separately," Schlesinger explained. "The dealer was pleased with our keytag concept because it added value and security, and promoted the company all at the same time."

Schlesinger said that while he believes that keys will undergo an electronic revolution one day, there will always be a need for keytags. "I believe that in the future, a single key will be programmed to open the car, home and office, thus reducing the number of keys that we carry," he said. "However, I do not believe that it will completely eliminate the use of keytags as we know it."

Sun agreed that keytags are here to stay. "As long as there are keys, keytags will remain one of the most popular promotional items."

By Cynthia T. Graham

Posted by farfromboring at June 10, 2005 01:40 PM