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04 June 2024

Getting to Know the APPA Board: Michelle Lister, APPA Board Member, New Zealand

APPA: Tell us a little bit about yourself; what is your role at your company and what does this involve?
Michelle Lister: I'm GM of Operations and Incentives at TLC Live! Within the company, I juggle various roles, but what I particularly enjoy is firstly, mentoring our team who come up with some awesome ideas and secondly, collaborating with customers, crafting and overseeing their online sales incentive and merchandise programs. No day is the same!

APPA: What made you want to work in the promotional products industry and why?
 After selling a company I co-owned specializing in large format digital printing, I found myself in the promotional products industry when an opportunity came up with the New Zealand distributor for Hanes and Beefy Tee apparel. They wanted to extend beyond retail into the corporate and promotional markets, leveraging my network secured the job. This path led me to working with promotional distributors, captivated by the industry's dynamic, ever-changing, and creative nature, I haven't looked back since.

APPA: What did you want to be when you were growing up?
ML: An architect or draughtsman I love the process of conceptual thoughts coming to fruition

APPA: What is the most memorable promotional campaign you've ever seen, and why did it stand out to you?
ML: A standout project by TLC was for Cointreau, seeking a captivating packaging solution for Duty Free and liquor stores. The design featured copper pressed tin plates embossed with branding, hinged side panels that folded around the bottle and unfolded like a flower upon lid removal. Elegant and mesmerizing, it showcased the product brilliantly.

APPA: What is your prediction for the promotional products industry in 2024? Are there any trends you can foresee taking off?
ML: Excitingly, alongside the eco/sustainability trend, customers are clamoring for merchandise that offers a unique, personalized touch. This opens doors to exploring the vibrant world of garment sublimation, diverse digital branding techniques, and a plethora of product personalization options.

APPA: What's the most unusual or interesting request you've ever received from a client in the promotional industry?
ML: We had a client launching a new beverage that was aimed at women. Their launch parties in nightclubs demanded branding that would shine in low-light conditions. They sought small, wearable items. Alongside necklaces and more, we partnered with a cosmetic contract manufacturer to craft skin-safe products: a creamy gold metallic eyeshadow and lip balm matching their brand's colors, which also glowed in the dark. Packaged into branded pottles, these dazzled at the parties!

APPA: What is the biggest misconception people have about the promotional industry, and why is it not true?
ML: As TV viewing habits evolve and traditional advertising fades, some marketers doubt the effectiveness of promotional products. However, research shows that they indeed drive brand recall, loyalty, and purchasing behaviors when they are strategically integrated into marketing efforts.

APPA: Can you share a funny or memorable experience you've had at an industry event or trade show?
ML: During an APPA gala dinner, I was accepting an award on behalf of TLC. As it was the first award of the night, I didn’t realise there was an expectation for a speech and I left the stage, sparking laughter from the audience when the MC made a witty comment. This taught me to always be prepared and expect the unexpected!

APPA: If you could create a promotional product for a famous celebrity, who would it be and what would the product be?
ML: Living on Waiheke Island, surrounded by the beauty of the ocean, sparks endless inspiration! I would love to team up with our legendary NZ sailors Peter Burling and Blair Tuke and their charity, Live Ocean, and create a sustainable merchandise range using reclaimed ocean bound or ocean collected plastic, and bring more awareness to the amount of plastic that is ending up in our oceans.

APPA: If the promotional products industry had a theme song, what would it be and why?
ML: "Jump" by Van Halen! As an industry we're all in, sometimes it’s tough, but nothing gets us down, we might as well jump at the changes and opportunities.

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