Born: Melbourne, Australia
Worked in: Australia, New Zealand, Hong Kong, China and United States of America.
Dictionary definitions aside, how would you characterize innovation in the work you do? Our creative philosophy is very simple. In everything we do, the brand must come first. Always. Our aim is to create powerful promotional solutions that put the brand or product in the spotlight, but always with the brand as the platform. After that, virtually anything is possible. We can let our imaginations fly. And we do. We have three key business truths — creative, quality, competitive. Our promise is we have a better idea.
Why do people see you as an innovator? We were the first (more than a decade ago) to transform from a traditional promotions company that placed logos on products into a company that developed creative products for companies to assist in their branding and promotional efforts. We apply different thinking to the process. We do not simply just work with what products exist. We create the product that best suits the brief to create powerful promotional solutions.
Name of innovation idea or business solution for which you are most proud? Breaking in to the American market as an Australian company and taking my first orders supplying into Wal-Mart and providing the on pack premium and concept for The Simpsons Movie — then watching a terrific sell-through rate and seeing the advertising for my idea. It's a very long process, but the rewards are worth it.
What is the biggest challenge you face in applying thinking to international projects? The biggest challenge is getting large companies to have faith in the creative process so that they can have products and solutions developed from scratch.
Having a track record with major international corporations and brands proves the success of our offering; however, there are many companies out there who still want the traditional logo placement on a range of corporate gifts. We can do that and even manage the stock, but true innovation allows a brand or product to stand out from the crowd.
Other International Facts: Rob Hilton started The Promotion Factory as an ambitious 19 year old. Now, nearly 20 years later, Rob and TPF are currently consulting to Chinese manufacturers to help them understand marketing philosophy and creative process, so that they can become product innovators rather than pure manufacturers.