A lot of things can go wrong when producing branded marketing materials. Typos, smudged ink, disproportionate printing, late deliveries, ill-fitting clothing, damages in shipping... you name it. Thankfully, most mistakes are easily remedied with some quick thinking and a few extra dollars.
Last December, one of our decal/magnet vendors announced that they'd be launching a new product category in January 2012. When Seth, Julianne, Mallory and I traveled to Orlando for the ASI Show, we were excited to visit with our rep and learn more about the new line.
Turns out they had begun manufacturing temporary tattoos. Sure, temporary tattoos aren't anything new, but a patented ink formula differentiated their product from current market options. Inspired by traditional henna body art, this vendor designed their ink to stain the skin, rather than adhere to or sit on top of the surface layer. Applied correctly, the impression should last nearly 3 times longer than traditional temporary tats.
It seems that a little more research and development was in order before launching this product. Beta testers were outraged to discover just how well the design lasted. Sleeve art is fun for two days, five tops. Three months?!? Absolutely not funny.
Immediately following our vendor meeting in Orlando, Seth tweeted about the new ink. One of our largest clients adores temporary tattoos, and they typically place an order once per season to replenish inventory for youth fundraisers, family concerts and community events. They saw Seth's tweet, and a full order was in production the very next day. Normally, we regard our speed of service as a major asset at Sonic. In this instance, a few extra days would have literally saved our skin.
Needless to say, this little issue cost us a very big account. Dealing with the aftermath has reminded us of the importance of adequate product testing, and the responsibility falls on both suppliers and distributors.
Of course every situation has a silver lining, and Seth, ever the optimist, discovered it first:
"On the one hand it's a cautious tale for parents. On the other hand, when you consider the cost of real tattoos, you can now do a full sleeve for hundreds less than the average cost of a tramp stamp. Bike bars and Renaissance festivals are now in an uproar."
It's a shame that some lessons have to be learned the hard way...
... and Ben may have learned the hardest lesson of us all.