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Bobblehead Gallery

Branding with Bobbleheads
REALTOR leaves lasting impression with unique marketing tool

By Bill Gladstone Group of NAI CIR

Open your desk drawer. Go ahead. I’ll wait. What’s in there? My bet is that you have five or 10 pens from various firms that you do business with or that want to do business with you. Those ubiquitous pens pile up, move from desk to desk or sometimes just get thrown into the trash on their way to the landfill.

Did any of those pens create a memorable impression to last longer than a handshake? Chances are they didn’t. A pen is a great, easy, inexpensive marketing tool, and we will probably be handing pens out for years to come. But here at Bill Gladstone Group of NAI CIR, we are out to create a long-lasting relationship with you, and to do that, we knew we needed to go big or go home.

Enter the Bill Gladstone Bobblehead.

In 2005, Bill underwent a physical transformation. His marketing team decided it was the ideal time to transform the group’s marketing and branding efforts and proposed the creation of a customized  bobblehead. Initially, Bill was slightly hesitant but with the encouragement of his family and marketing team, he charged ahead and ordered 1,000 bobbleheads. Designed from
a sketch and a photo, Bill’s inaugural run of bobbleheads reflected his fashion and business sense, from the black pants and tie to the cellphone and earpiece.

Bill started giving clients a bobblehead as a gift at settlement or upon full execution of a lease document. He would mail them out with a personal note, thanking individuals for their business
and developing lasting relationships with clients. What happened next exceeded the expectations of Bill and his marketing team. The Bill Gladstone Bobblehead took on a life of its own.

Bobblehead aficionados contacted Bill to request a bobblehead for their collections. Bill was stopped by a UPS deliveryman who said, “I know you! I see your bobblehead in offices all over town!” A local receptionist was puzzled as to why so many Bill Gladstone Bobbleheads were being mailed to her office.

The bobblehead has danced on the larger-than-life digital screen at Harrisburg Mall and has been highlighted in several newspaper articles and YouTube videos. Bill donated bobbleheads to a local center that specializes in helping children with disabilities. The children loved shaking the bobblehead.

The bobblehead was so well-received, Bill and the marketing team created a caricature based on it. That image has appeared on many marketing materials, including proposals, tour packets, envelopes, calendars, water bottles, settlement photos and more. The image will even dance as you flip the pages of a Bill Gladstone notepad.

The team created a Bobblehead Photo Gallery at, where photos of the bobblehead traveling around the world are posted. The bobblehead has been spotted across the United States and as far away as Dubai, United Arab Emirates. From time to time, the bobblehead makes an appearance on the firm’s various social media outlets.

Ten years after the initial Bill Gladstone Bobblehead started showing up on desks throughout central Pennsylvania, what’s the verdict? Some might assess the bobblehead as a fun marketing gimmick. Others might see it as a marketing concept that experienced unanticipated success and became an important tool in the Bill Gladstone branding toolbox.

No matter how you look at it, the Bill Gladstone Bobblehead made a lasting impression. And that is smart marketing.

“As a real estate agent in a competitive market, the last thing you want is to be average or ordinary,” Bill says. “Personal marketing makes the phone ring. It helps build relationships, which is the essence of the real estate business.”

Bill has always been a fan of fresh, innovative marketing ideas to differentiate his firm from the competition. The bobblehead is a concept that has kept clients talking for close to a decade.

Even the most successful marketing strategy must be kept fresh, so what’s next in the local legacy of the Bill Gladstone Bobblehead?

A redesigned bobblehead, of course.
To mark the bobblehead’s 10th anniversary, the Bill Gladstone Group is releasing the second incarnation of the Bill Gladstone Bobblehead (Bobble 2.0). The new bobblehead was updated based on a new photo of Bill. Keeping in line with Bill’s
reputation for always working and being connected, Bobble 2.0 features a Bluetooth, smartphone and tablet. Bobble 2.0 also sports a few more gray hairs of wisdom and wrinkles of experience.

Only 500 Bobble 2.0s were produced for targeted distribution. Where will one pop up next?
“With Bobble 2.0, we anticipate the continuation of a fun and memorable marketing strategy that has become a core component of our branding efforts,” Bill says. “With so many voices clamoring for our attention via social media and traditional media (television, radio, print), it is increasingly challenging to stand out in the marketplace. With all our marketing efforts, our goal is two-fold. First and foremost, we want to establish and strengthen relationships that will stand the test of time. Second, we want to create an impression that will have existing and potential customers thinking of Bill Gladstone Group of NAI CIR first to meet their commercial real estate needs.”

The first mention of a bobblehead was made in the 1840s in Nikolai Gogol’s story, The Overcoat. There, Gogol describes a character with a neck “like the necks of plaster cats which wag their heads.”
Throughout the 20th century, figurines with bobbing heads were periodically produced in limited quantities for sports figures and rock stars, such as the four-piece set of The Beatles. The earliest bobbleheads were created from paper mâché, which had limited durability. The next
iterations were ceramic, which were fairly fragile.

Bobbleheads regained popularity in the 1990s when manufacturers began to create plastic bobbleheads. Bobbleheads took off at the start of the 21st century when individuals could customize bobbleheads with personalization of tattoos, hairstyles and clothing choices.

If you spot Bobble 2.0 around town or if one lands on your desk, join the fun and email a picture to or post it to our Facebook page at GladstoneGroup. If there is somewhere you’d like to see Bobble 2.0 out and about in the community, be sure to let us know. You never know where one will appear!

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