The Swag Equation

You don’t have to be a promo girl to figure out the reasons why people like marketing events. These promos are fun since they don’t occur every day. The girls are sexy and flirty. But what brings all all genders, races and socioeconomic levels to the table? Swag!

Now, I’ve seen a lot of swag in my day. Having a marketing background from the movie and beverage industries, I am a connoisseur of branded giveaways and have seen the good, the bad and the just plain stupid. Most recently, I’ve been to a few wine/liquor expos and the Gay Pride Festival. Look at the postcard we had at our Blue Moon Publishing booth:

So cute! I’d mail that!

I am a believer that some swag just sucks, or at the very least, it wasn’t thought through properly. So I’m going to share with you the giveaways I love, hate and/or just don’t understand. First, here is the worst freebie I’ve ever seen:

My first question was “WHAT THE HELL IS THIS?!”

This, my friends, is a crumb sweeper, and a booth at a wine expo was giving them out. To me, there is a basic equation for good swag (fun + practicality × creativity ≤  shiny), and this piece of crap does not add up. First off, what a snobby giveaway. Who is it for? Who even uses a crumb sweeper?! Is an owner of a fancy restaurant supposed to take one and give it to his favorite waiter as a backhanded gift? I didn’t see these flying off the table, especially since the one next door had chap stick. Much better swag. Fits the equation.

I’ve seen lots of good swag lately. Hand sanitizer is really in style, and you can’t go wrong with pens, candy, those little rubber bracelets, glassware, frisbees, and bottle opener key chains…or at least I thought you couldn’t ruin this:

Makes me wanna drink…

I mean, who DOESN’T want a blinky shot glass necklace?

I’m not trying to be a hater, but staring at a pet crematory logo every time I open a beer  is a serious buzz kill. Oh well, it’s a quality opener, and at least they didn’t hand out matchbooks instead (rim shot). It’s even more awkward than the Mean Girls sunscreen we gave out at AMC that looked like condoms. So many parents gave me the stank eye over those, and I’m like “They’re sunscreen! I swear I’m not pushing pink condoms on your 12-year-old!” Blinky shot glass necklaces have always baffled me, too. They are specifically why I added “≤  shiny” to my swag equation. They are stupid and impractical (who drinks out of a necklace?), but since they light-up, they are a favorite, especially among drunk people and strippers.

Now it’s time to reveal my favorite swag. Drum roll please…


Turner blew my mind with this travel sized tube of WD-40. Like, wow. How original. How handy! How cute! A man clearly designed this, and I love it. It could go in my car or tool box. There is one other promo item I recently received at Pride that is a new favorite, but it is an unmentionable item. So to keep this post PG-13, I will just let your mind go into the gutter on that note. Swag!

About purrrentice

Fantastic Voiceover? How About PRENTASTIC VOICEOVER?!?! I'm Prentice Osborne, a full-time, freelance voiceover talent out of Atlanta. My specialty is Millennial, teen and everything in between, and I work in multiple genres of VO, from e-learning to games to cartoons to radio and TV ads. I love the entire VO process, from pen to paper, mouth to mic, cursor to waveform. It's totally Prentabulous! Need some voice work? Bring it on, World! Freelance Prentice is here to blow your mind with laughs, creative magic, mad skills, and a little bit of razzle dazzle!
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4 Responses to The Swag Equation

  1. Blondie says:

    I find a lot of artists at conventions give away postcards as swag, but I wonder at how much people actually want them. I suppose you could put it on a pinboard or actually send it in the mail, but does anyone actually do that? I know when I am given postcards, I grumble because they’re too big to fit in my business card filing cabinet– and the only reason I wanted anything like that is because I wanted the artists’ contact information! I end up tearing it into a business card sized piece, making notes on it (UGH to people that make business cards or postcards glossy on BOTH sides!), or just plain throwing it away. I turned down a lot of postcards at APE this past weekend, and my tablemate noted (much to her sadness) that people would pick up her free postcards, and then just put them right back on the table and walk away.

    I know I don’t really want to use postcards as a promo item and I don’t want OTHER people’s postcards. Postcards are for mailing to your mailing list and publishers and stuff.

    So that leaves me with this question: what sort of free swag should an artist have that’s still cost effective? Hmm!

  2. purrrentice says:

    I dunno. The postcards worked out well for Blue Moon because they were specifically designed for Pride (and it seemed in theme to the greeting card thing), but we also had business cards for people who were interested in more than cute freebies (I have a BM card now!). We also had candy.

    The problem with swag is it costs money, so it’s important to decide when it might be cost effective to have branded giveaways. For artists, I love to see cards like yours with a little illo on it. Maybe stickers? Just remember even if you don’t have to buy swag in bulk from a mass production company, you have to consider your opportunity costs. Time is candy!

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