Marketer Jeffrey Kay’s rule of thumb is to keep things flippin’ simple.
In a world of high-tech gadgets and impressive multimedia, Kay’s medium is digital, but batteries or software are not required. Only flexible fingers.
Kay’s simplistic attitude is the result of one of his favorite pastimes: flipbooks.
Kay is a flipbook collector who has “hundreds of flipbooks dating back to the early 1900s.” While he has always been interested in flipbooks, it wasn’t until three years ago that he flipped his hobby into a business venture.
For Kay, the owner of Flippies Inc. and self-proclaimed “chief flippologist,” the decision to turn his hobby into a business came after careful consideration.
“I had seen flipbooks as a way for marketing promotions. It became very, very obvious when we thought about it.”
Thanks to Kay and Flippies, flipbooks have evolved from a prize in a Cracker Jack box to a growing hot item in the marketing industry.
Flipbooks are making a comeback after years of being left in the dust by higher-profile technologies.
After three years of producing flipbooks, business is booming. “Something has clicked,” Kay said. “Order sizes are getting bigger, and the types of companies ordering flipbooks are getting larger. We’ve already received a few orders totaling 750,000 flipbooks this month.”
With the minimum order of 2,500 flipbooks that go for $2.79 apiece, Kay can expect to make a pretty penny in 2006. The larger the order of flipbooks, the smaller the cost of production, making flipbooks fairly inexpensive, Kay said.
“In 2005, we sold 2 million flipbooks,” Kay said. “This year, I think we will quadruple our business. If we sell 4 million flipbooks, I’ll be happy, but I think we’ll sell much more than that.”
In a world where most marketing gimmicks require an electronic device, Kay feels flipbooks are at an advantage because they are small and uncomplicated.
“When the Internet and flash media became available,” Kay said, “people forgot about flipbooks. The recent trend is what is old is new again and that goes for flipbooks.”
“The simplicity is part of the magic behind flipbooks because everything is so complex and so over thought,” Kay said.
Flippies uses new technology to create a modern twist on flipbooks, which originated in 1882.
“We have created a patent-pending process to create better flipbooks,” Kay said. “We can take any video clip and break it down into a flipbook, so it looks like seamless animation.”
The flipbooks come in two sizes: Flippies and Flippies Jr. Flippies measures 4-by-2 1/2 inches, while Flippies Jr. measures 2 1/2-by-2 inches. Packaged goods companies often request the Flippies Jr. because its smaller size allows them to insert the flipbooks into their packaging.
Flippies Inc. has created flipbooks for Proctor & Gamble, Puma, Champs Sports, Wells Fargo Financial and Brio Toy Trains, among others. They are currently working with Lexus to create a flipbook that duplicates of one of their car commercials with “great graphics.”
Kay said he felt the re-emergence of flipbooks is a growing trend in the marketing industry.
“I receive about 20 calls a day from companies looking into using flipbooks for marketing promotions,” Kay said. “I think flipbooks are here to stay. They really work. Flipbooks have been around for 124 years, but they’ve been left for dead for so long that they are new again.”
Word-of-mouth is certainly working in Flippies’ favor, with more and more companies looking to use flipbooks as their next marketing ploy.
“Viral advertising definitely helps the popularity of flipbooks,” Kay said. “People want to share the fun. Flipbooks are an icebreaker for developing conversation.”
Kay Thomson, senior product manager, for Brio Corporation USA, said the company chose to use Flippies’ flipbooks as a way to promote the company’s new Smart Track toy train products because she remembered the positive experiences she had with flipbooks during her childhood.
“We had been looking for a giveaway item for kids,” Thomson said, “and I remembered how much fun flipbooks were from when I was a kid. The flipbooks are of excellent quality and I recommend them.”
While Kay has produced many different types of promotional flipbooks, such as the Barry Manilow “Music and Passion” flipbook, which features Manilow performing one of his trademark dance moves on stage, he said he doesn’t have a favorite.
“The Barry Manilow flipbook makes me laugh,” Kay said. “I get a charge out of all of them. “It’s hard to pick a favorite because they’re all different.”