The Yo-Yo has been around for thousands of years and was first used in the Philippine Islands as a hunting weapon made of stone with a string of animal hide or plant fiber. Examples can be seen in the Natural History Museum in London. It has appeared over the years in many countries as a toy made of wood that went up and down on a string. In the 1950s the Yo-Yo was transformed into a toy capable of performing hundreds of tricks, from the easy spinner to difficult two handed-tricks that amazed and entertained audiences in the USA. It was not until Jack Russell had the idea of printing a sponsors name to the sides of the toy that the Yo-Yo as an advertising vehicle was born.
An international soft drink company first used the toy as an advertising campaign in Atlanta, Georgia and since then it has run sales promotion campaigns in most countries around the world. While it may sound simple, the Yo-Yo Promotion is in fact a highly effective sales promotion campaign, reaching a number of important marketing objectives for the big brand.
Planning and executing a Yo-Yo Promotion is complicated and took many years of experience to perfect. The key to a successful campaign lies in a wide spread distribution of the branded Yo-Yo and in this the soft drink company was the perfect partner as the branded toy could be sold in all their retail outlets. Once a planned level of distribution was achieved over a period of two weeks, highly skilled demonstrators covered the area with pre-planned demonstrations and contests, thus creating a craze.
During the course of the promotion, demonstrators would appear on television shows and articles would be written about them in national and local newspapers, creating a huge amount of free publicity and a buzz around the soft drink brand among core target consumers. The excitement of the promotion was used as a way of gaining additional retail display space and near-pack and on-pack mechanics increased product sales by large percentages.
As the toy was sold to the consumer and a small marketing margin added into the retail price, the sales promotion campaign was mostly self liquidating, resulting in a massive advertising campaign at very little cost.
While the Yo-Yo may seem a simple product, it is in fact very difficult to manufacture a high quality product capable of performing hundreds of tricks. To this day the most successful production is in the home of the Yo-Yo, The Philippines. In the years since the 1950s over 100 million branded toys have been manufactured in The Philippines and sold around the world.