In the world of meetings, conventions and events, it’s pretty much a given that at some point you’ll either receive or give some form of trinket — mementos of a place you visited or a business you may want to use in the future. Sometimes this is really good and useful “stuff”; sometimes these “gifts” are a waste of time and money. So what separates the good from the bad?
Years ago most of us were happy with a desk calendar or functional tote bag, but oh the times have changed. Now if you want your swag remembered, it must stand out and pass countless tests:
- Is it functional?
- Does is represent your brand well?
- Is it gender-based or gender-neutral?
- Was it made in the United States (good) or out of the country (bad, unless you’re purchasing and distributing it in a foreign country, then by all means by local wherever you are)?
- Will the size and weight make it easy to take on a plane?
- Is it recyclable and/or do you know anything about the carbon footprint that went into making the item?
- Is the perceived expense or value of the item going to be an issue with recipients? (Even many meeting planners have company policies about gifts from outside vendors.)
The list goes on, but you get the idea. Not all swag is created equal. And it should not be considered a simple company giveaway.
Thanks to our litigious society, the issue of product safety and gifting is more important than ever for event marketers and organizers. Consider the 2008 case in which a Reebok promotion gave consumers complimentary charm bracelets for buying a particular shoe. Innocent as it may have seemed when the marketing department came up with that campaign, the unthinkable happened. A 4-year-old child swallowed part of the bracelet and died from lead poisoning.
The product had 99.9 percent lead content so the Consumer Product Safety Commission got involved. Now more stringent policies and procedures are in place. This put the spotlight on all promotional materials, including swag from meetings and events.
You might wonder whether event swag should just be avoided altogether. In a word, no. But do think clearly about all aspects of the tchotchkes you might consider branding. This includes asking questions that go beyond the usual “Who are we marketing this product to?” and “What does it say about our company?” Make sure you ask what the swag is made of, if there are any safety issues, where it’s manufactured, whether it’s recyclable and so much more. All pertain to implications that can create negative feedback about your company. And that’s never a good thing, right?
Care to weigh in on the best and worst swag you’ve ever given or received? Please use the comment box below. Thanks!