A new advertising trend is arising in the world of 3D printing. Companies outside of the 3D printing world have started to create accounts in file sharing sites to directly provide advertising materials to the public.
Heineken Beer stared the trend in 3D printable advertising by releasing 3 pieces on their Thingiverse page. The ice bucket, beer coaster, and bottle opener files were released as a promotional giveaway for a championship soccer game.
Ford is selling officially licensed 3D files for their 2016 model cars. These 3D printed models are a great way for small car dealers to get display models of new cars without ordering the full size car.
For RC car hobbyist, the 3D files are a great way to make a hot new shell for your RC car.
Other 3D printing companies like TurboSquid have licensing deals with various companies to produce professional digital files (graphic and 3D print) and physical models of cars. These professional files can go to dealerships to help the customer visualize all the parts of a car order.
TV Channel Syfy has recently release a set of free files for space ships and cosplay pieces in their new series “The Expanse”. These files make the show more engaging as fans can 3D print the ships at home.
For science fiction (Sci Fi) franchises that rely on deep fan loyalty, releasing the files for show items can serve two purposes.
First it gives fans tangible items from the show. Having props and models of the show can increase viewer engagement. These props also serve as physical advertising wherever they are displayed. By combing the “Wow” factor of 3D printing with 3D printable props from a show, a strong cult following can develop.
Second, the production company can control licensing of official merchandise through the sales of official files. This licensing will also lets the companies get a jump on fans who can 3D model show items from screen captures of the show. In this way a sci fi show can generate revenue through the sale of 3D printed merchandise as well as the digital media.
As 3D printing becomes more accessible, companies are looking more at 3D printing technology to advertise their business.
3D printing technology has a property that other advertising premiums do not have. By releasing the files, the 3D printers bear the production cost of making the item, not the company.
Right now 3D printing and advertising is a new idea. As 3D printers become more ubiquitous in the home, I can see how companies will want to expand to 3D printable advertising.
One way is to produce household items that match grocery goods. Chip companies can cross promote with dip companies to make a design for a custom chip / dip bowl.
Pizza companies can design custom plates to go with their pizza slices.
Papa John’s has release a set of Christmas files to help their business. These files are for simple Christmas tree decorations.
Video game companies can release prop files that match their games. When Fallout 4 was released by Bethesda Softworks, they sold a collectors edition game that came with an actual Pip Boy controller. This controller let you use your smart phone to control the game. Naturally the gaming community gobbled this up, hook line and radiation proof sinker.
It did not take long for some intrepid 3D modeler to design their own, unlicensed 3D printable Pip Boy. This pip boy file exploded across file sharing sites, and 3D printing services experienced a rush to 3D print this massive file.
Bethesda missed a golden opportunity in the Pip Boy files. They could have sold the licensed files in conjunction with the commercially produced Pip Boys. They could have also outsourced domestic production of the Pip Boys to 3D printing services to help meet consumer demands.
Video game companies should take the case of Bethesda as an indicator of future trends in gaming.
3D modelers are producing thousands of unlicensed files for gaming accessories and cosplay pieces to every game. Future games can come out with the files to 3D print licensed props and gaming accessories built into the game. In this way, the gamer also becomes the manufacturing arm of the company. By 3D printing gaming items, the gamer also relieves issues caused by commercial manufacturing delays from overseas companies. By supporting local 3D printers, video game companies and gamer inject money back into the domestic economy, which supports further video gaming.
For big games, sponsoring companies can produce exclusive files with licensed logos. Imagine the next Super Bowl logo 3D printed on bar coaster, clothing apparel, and toys.
Professional sports leagues can sell licensed files en masse, and leave consumers with the actual production cost of these items. In this way they are not burdened by the inventory of logo items from unpopular teams or players involved in recent scandals.
With players like Carolina Panthers’ Thomas Davis wearing a 3D printed arm brace, other players will soon follow suit with their own 3D printed items. The players and leagues can release 3D printed items that are tied to each player. For fans of valued players, these 3D printed items can be a way to get close to the player. The leagues can also release the 3D scans of players for hardcore fans to put on their team shrines.
Sports leagues can use the data from 3D printing to monitor the public’s perception of teams and players. As part of a team’s goodwill outreach, they can sell files or physical items for charity.
Professional sports teams can release officially licensed files for tailgating and events. They can also work with local 3D printers to bulk produce giveaways for a specific sporting event.
The sales, downloading, and 3D printing habits of the consumer can be a valuable data set for any marketing company. Just as consumer’s internet traffic yields information about their habits, the files they chose to download and 3D print can show consumer engagement and brand loyalty.
3D printing an item shows more brand loyalty then just the purchase of an object from a store. It shows that the consumer cares enough to download and slice the file, then wait the time it takes to 3D print the premium. By making files of different complexity and print time, marketing researchers can gauge customer loyalty through their 3D printing habits.
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