Clorox was looking to elevate the consumer experience in the cleaning aisle. They had preliminary campaign creative, but were unsure of how to execute the creative in-aisle across several different fixture configurations. They turned to Gilson’s in-store design team to help build a more engaging aisle display.

Best of Wide Format

Gilson first brought you a behind-the-scenes look at the impressive renovation of the former Heritage Towers (now The Milton) in Battle Creek, MI back in June of 2020. That project is now gaining national recognition, and was unveiled as one of 12 winners of the 3rd Annual Best of Wide Format Awards competition by Big Picture magazine.

Creative Spirits
Gilson pours on the creative thinking for Total Wine & More’s annual All-American Spirit in-store marketing campaign.

When it comes to creativity, Gilson is known for making it a double. This was especially true for the recent All-American Spirit campaign for Total Wine & More retail locations, where Gilson executed not one, but two unique interactive displays.

“The original project came to us as a bid opportunity where, essentially, the most creative idea would win,” said Brandon Aube, account executive at Gilson. “Total Wine & More was so impressed by our concepts that they actually selected two of the concepts to roll out in two different markets for A/B testing.”

The annual campaign is a big driver of summer sales for Total Wine & More, and this year they were looking to take the display to the next level.

“Lighting, motion, true three-dimensionality: those were all important aspects in making the display really stand out,” said Aube.

Sample Installation Instructions for TWM Display

Gilson approached the project from a strategic perspective, taking store counts and total budget into consideration, then providing solutions that met those expectations. The result? Two displays designed to grab eyes and fill carts.

“Total Wine could not be happier with how the projects turned out, and we are already hard at work on the next big seasonal campaign,” said Aube.

Stay tuned for the next round on us.

A behind-the-scenes look at restoring the historic murals at The Milton (formerly known as the Heritage Towers) in Battle Creek, Michigan. The new apartment buildings and storefronts at The Milton will soon be open for business, complete with restored Art Deco ceiling murals, just as they were in the 1930s.

A behind-the-scenes look at creating the award-winning GRCC Ford Fieldhouse Legacy Mural

Facility signage can showcase a logo, give information, or point guests in the right direction. But sometimes, a project comes along that can inspire people in a much deeper way.

The floor-to-ceiling-and-beyond graphics in the new Grand Rapids Community College Ford Fieldhouse do just that.

Designed by Janice Ensing, a former GRCC graphic artist, Gilson played an integral role in bringing the award-winning project to life.

“I had worked with Jan on some smaller wall and window graphics at GRCC,” said Gilson account executive Rolly Smith. “When she reached out to me as a potential partner for the Legacy Mural, I jumped at the opportunity.”

“Jan had concerns about the size of the project and fact that we had less than 2 months to have it completed,” recalled Smith. “I assured her that we could handle it.”

Smith quickly assembled a team at Gilson to kick off the project, which included taking detailed measurements and sourcing the right material.

“We looked at about a dozen possibilities,” said Smith. “We finally found a new product by DreamScape® that was commercial-grade and met all the specifications for fire and wear that were needed to satisfy the builder.”

Rockford Construction and IDS Architecture were supportive throughout the entire build and worked together with Gilson’s installation team to ensure an award-winning final product.

“There were a number of challenges to overcome,” said Smith. “In one area there was a handrail that went right through one of the graphics, in another area there were light switch plates running though blocks of text. One of the longer hallways had a dip that we did not anticipate. Construction dust and unfinished walls presented their own challenges.”

“Working closely with the builders and with Jan helped us keep the project moving forward at a quick pace in order to meet the Grand Opening event date,” said Smith.

After weeks of printing and a few late nights of installing, the finished mural was ready for its grand reveal. The Ford Fieldhouse Legacy Mural was unveiled in January 2019 in the presence of politicians, local dignitaries, and the public at two separate Open House events.

The entire project featured nearly 2,000 square feet of printed wall graphics, including those that extended beyond the walls and were suspended from the ceilings in the locker rooms for a truly immersive experience.

The Legacy Mural earned Silver Paragon Award from the National Council for Marketing & Public Relations (NCMPR), a national organization for community and technical colleges.

It also earned a Gold Medallion from NCMPR’s District 3, which includes community colleges in Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Ohio, Wisconsin and the Canadian province of Ontario as well as a Gold PRoof Award from the WMPRSA – West Michigan Chapter of the Public Relations Society of America.

Ensing was overwhelmed with the positive outcome, saying in follow-up correspondence, “Thank you Rolly for your enthusiasm and guidance throughout this project. I truly could not have done it without your team.”

Contact Gilson for help with your next big dream.

A look at the stunning visuals from the GRCC Ford Fieldhouse in our Project Gallery:

Gilson’s private-label holiday hot sauces were a central part of the 2018 marketing campaign.

What started as a conversation about how to ease the pressure on our internal production staff during the busy holiday season turned into one of our most successful – and economical! – marketing campaigns. Read more about how a fictitious sauce brand transformed Gilson’s sales model in our latest case study.


The Sticky Situation

Those familiar with Gilson may have seen the byproduct of our recent holiday campaigns around town in the form of tiny personalized cardboard elves. (If not, you can read more about it here.) As another record-breaking campaign came to a close in December of 2017, conversations turned towards how we could improve.

The primary driver of this process-improvement conversation was the hope of eliminating some of the internal pressure on our production staff during what is already one of our busiest times of year. Our customers trust us to handle their most challenging, most time-sensitive, most complex print-on-demand and fulfillment projects – and yet our marketing campaign was an annual source of pain for our internal workflow.

The nature of the project did not lend itself to automation of any kind, and the chain of custody once the customized elves were produced was a challenge. We sat down to explore what an ideal campaign might look like.

“The secret to the success of so many of our customer’s projects lies in our Mindwire® portal,” said Sally Gilbert, Director of Fulfillment Programs. “There’s really nothing else like it on the market today. If you want accurate, well-managed print-on-demand and fulfillment, Mindwire is your tool.”

Mindwire® is Gilson’s proprietary B2B e-commerce portal that serves as the single access point for sales and marketing tools such as literature, digital assets and images, wearables and promotional items, manuals and more.

It is completely administrable by the customer, and offers real-time inventory access and reporting. Hundreds of Gilson customers currently use Mindwire in some form or another.

We knew that if we could use Mindwire as the central hub of our marketing campaign, the campaign deliverables would flow through the shop much more smoothly, and also allow us to showcase the tool to our customers with their own customized demonstration experience.

“We had already established that increasing our customer’s exposure to Mindwire® was going to be one of our sales goals for 2018, so deciding early on to use it as a focal point of our next campaign just made sense,” noted Marketing Manager Kim Elmore.

“Not only was our original process a bit clunky on the back end, but our response rates were getting out of control,” said Elmore. Too many campaign responses can be a waste of resources, if the proper follow-ups cannot be made. “We were getting double-digit response rates on a list that was well over 1,000 people. Our sales team just wasn’t able to keep up.”

Armed with the decision that we wanted to keep our response rates high, but our follow-ups manageable, and also the desire to create a more streamlined campaign fulfillment process, we set to work developing the Gilson Holiday Campaign 2.0: Hot Sauce Edition.

A Solution to be Savored

In the beginning… there was sauce.

If we take a spin in the way-back machine, we’ll find the beginnings of this new sauce-themed holiday campaign stretch all the way back to the early 2000s.

“We knew that in order for us to show off everything Mindwire could do, we needed to let customers see it in action,” said Jeff Palmitier, Executive Vice President of Technology. “Unfortunately in order to do that, we would need to share existing customers’ Mindwire sites, which in many cases is a violation of their confidentiality agreements. We needed a dedicated demo site that we could freely share, that would show how a business might use Mindwire for sales and marketing support.”

The idea of developing a fictitious company that we could use as a demonstration tool for our Mindwire® product never fully got off the ground from an execution standpoint, but plenty of creative groundwork was laid.

In 2017, we decided to wipe the dust off the bottle and pick up where we left off – first with a complete brand development exercise for “SAUCEWORX”, an imaginary sauce manufacturer founded in the tiny Pittsburgh neighborhood of Squirrel Hill.

The “Sauceworx” branding exercise included typography, color palette, logo and wordmark design, as well as content development and copywriting for each of the fictitious products. All creative was executed by Gilson’s internal creative agency, Tonic.

Complete with made-up backstory and a whole new graphic identity, the Sauceworx squirrel icon made its debut on a dedicated consumer-facing website and coordinating Mindwire site, ready to demonstrate all that Mindwire had to offer.

Fast forward to 2018…

Using the Sauceworx Mindwire site as the basis for our holiday promotion was a natural fit. Our team developed limited edition sauce flavors and packaging, complete with gift sets, direct mail pieces, campaign landing pages to capture responses, and more.

All of the creative elements were completed over the summer, produced in the fall, and ready for deployment just prior to the holidays, spreading the workload over many months and allowing it to be completed during slower production times.  

The business development team identified a targeted list of companies who could benefit from a Mindwire solution, and then allowed the sales team to hand-pick which individuals at each company should receive the promotion.

This precision targeting ensured that the majority of responses would be pre-qualified leads, removing the guesswork on the sales person’s part as to whether or not to follow-up with a sales pitch or just a friendly thank you was required.

Recipients of the campaign were driven to a landing page that would capture and confirm their email address, which would be used as their username for accessing the Mindwire demonstration portal.

After completing a few steps to set up their password, users were granted access to the holiday-themed Sauceworx Mindwire site and allowed to choose one of three holiday gifts.

Once their order was complete, items were picked, packed, and shipped to the location of their choosing – just like any order they would have placed for marketing materials if they had a Mindwire site of their own.

Sauce Success!

Predetermining a realistic response rate was critical to the success of the campaign, since all premiums would be produced in advanced and sitting on warehouse shelves awaiting deployment once ordered. Anticipating too many responses would result in wasted resources on the shelves; underestimating our response rates would have caused us to run out of giveaways before the campaign reached it’s conclusion.

Using historical data on previous Gilson holiday campaigns, the marketing team set a goal of a 30% response rate and produced enough giveaways (branded hot sauces, squirrel-shaped desk organizers, and saucy greeting cards) to fulfill all orders should our response rate be around that 30% mark.

Within 2 days of the first mailed touchpoint, the campaign had already received an impressive 15% response rate. As a result, we decided to eliminate a few of the emailed touch points so as not to exceed our goal and run out of giveaways prematurely.

At the conclusion of the 30-day campaign, 42% of all recipients had visited their personalized landing page. Of those, 73% went on to complete the Mindwire® demonstration and requested their free gift for an overall redemption rate of 30.4%.

The result was a successful holiday campaign that caused minimal disruption to Gilson’s existing production workflow, demonstrated our creative, production, and fulfillment capabilities, and yielded a pool of strong, qualified Mindwire® leads for our sales staff to pursue. All of this was conducted on a fixed budget and timeline, allowing us to more accurately account for our ROI.

If your marketing strategy isn’t yielding the qualified leads you seek, give us a call for a complimentary consultation and brainstorming session. We’d be happy to share our secret sauce with you.

Also, if Mindwire has piqued your interest, you can learn more or request a demonstration by visiting,, or contacting your Gilson account representative.