PPAI held its fall Promotional Products Work (PPW) Expo in September, drawing hundreds of industry distributors and their clients to be inspired by the promotional merchandise on display and learn how to leverage those products for a wide range of campaigns and needs.

The Show Experience

The product of months of planning – including a test run of the event in May and a public introduction to the platform in August – PPW Expo launched on September 29. Participants enjoyed an innovative, virtual event that provided a client-safe environment for collaboration and exploration. A demand-driven event, PPW Expo was developed in collaboration with PPAI members serving on the Association’s Promotional Products Work workgroup.

“The Promotional Products Work Expo was really well thought out and executed,” said Kara Keister, MBA, MAS, “promise keeper” at Social Good Promotions and a newly appointed PPAI Board member. “The content was relevant, well produced and did an excellent job of highlighting why working with a distributor helps elevate and protect an end user’s brand. I am excited to be joining the PPAI Board as this time and am looking forward to seeing how this online end user experience progresses!”

Product pavilions at PPW Expo featured more than 200 products from nearly 40 suppliers. Products were carefully chosen and displayed by product type, feature and use rather than in the typical “booth” format.

In addition to product exploration opportunities, PPW Expo featured a 30-minute, product-packed program called Trends in Promo. Professionally produced, it featured segments on unboxing, customization and personalization, retail brands, sustainability, employee gifts and technology.

In addition, several educational programs covered topics such as Prop 65, product safety and supply chain challenges, all of which were appropriate for buyers and encouraged collaboration with distributors to navigate the challenges that these issues sometimes present.

“The Trends in Promo video was really fun and energetic, but more importantly, I loved the different Product Pavilions,” says Emily Codner, senior manager, affiliate services, at iPROMOTEu. “They were clean and organized and helped trigger some new ideas as we begin to delve into the gifting and recognition season.”

The PPW Expo Strategy

PPW Expo is one part of an overall buyer outreach initiative designed to deliver on PPAI’s vision to make promotional products essential to every brand. PPAI has also announced plans to offer two Promotional Products Work Expos in 2023 – one in the spring and one in the fall.

“I’m extremely proud of the team and what they accomplished with this event,” says Dale Denham, MAS+, president and CEO of PPAI. “Creative ideas, solid planning and execution made this a unique and valuable experience.

Now we will build upon the experience, making next year’s events even better as we continue to elevate promo.”

Lindsey Davis, MAS, PPAI’s manager of Promotional Products Work, says, “We are so happy with the event we were able to put into the market. Our members seem to have really embraced it. I believe we have the blueprint for future Promotional Products Work Expos.”

What We Saw On The ‘Show Floor’

The best business gifts are products that customers have always wanted and never knew they needed. That’s where promotional merchandise steps in. These items are innovative, unique and definitely useful, and products we wouldn’t necessarily buy for ourselves. And in that process, promotional products become essential elements of the brands that offer them.

This is one of the key takeaways of PPW Expo. PPW Expo’s product pavilion showcased many of these coveted items, and PPAI Media was on the scene to check them out.

This revolutionary lip kit goes beyond the typical by creating a unique experience for each and every user as they design their own lip balm. This kit includes everything needed to make five lip balm tins: ingredients (natural beeswax pellets, sunflower oil, peppermint essential oil and vanilla flavoring), utensils (plastic beaker, pipette and spatulas), empty lip balm tins and instructions.
Raining Rose / PPAI 232508, S7 / www.rainingrosepromos.com

The HeatBank is a nine-hour rechargeable hand warmer that keeps you warm while also functioning as a power bank to keep your devices charged. With dual-sided heating, this power bank has six different settings. Recipients can stay warm and connected with this product.
Compass Industries / PPAI 110923, S6 / www.compasspromos.com

Great for camping, tailgates and backyard gatherings, this travel-friendly seat delivers a smooth rocking motion on any surface, anywhere. Supported by a sturdy, powder-coated steel tubing frame, the padded armrests and mesh backrest provide additional comfort. Its easy-fold technology makes opening and closing the chair a breeze and protects fingers from getting pinched. And when it’s time to pack up, its integrated carry handle means no wrestling to fit it in a bag.
Koozie Group / PPAI 114187, S13 / www.kooziegroup.com

This 20-quart hard-sided Orca cooler can hold 18 cans. It has integrated insulation for maximum cold retention and freshness of your stowed items for up to 200 hours. The extendable flex-grip handles allow for comfortable solo or tandem carrying. There’s also a cargo net attachment for added storage and an easy-flow drainage spout with a lid gasket to ensure a perfect seal. Made in the USA.
Ball Pro Promotional Group / PPAI 112763, S8 / www.ballpro.com

The SoundLink Flex Bluetooth speaker delivers the clearest possible sound with deep, powerful bass wherever life takes you. With its silicone body, powder-coated steel grille and utility loop, the speaker is versatile and rugged enough for all your adventures. It doesn’t matter whether SoundLink Flex is standing upright, hanging or flat on its back, its technology automatically detects its orientation and ensures optimal sound in any position.
Incentive Concepts / PPAI 212912, S10 / www.incentiveconcepts.com

This attractive Bistro French Press waves goodbye to wasteful paper filters, single-use capsules and other add-ons for good. All recipients need to brew brilliant coffee that’s bursting with flavor is hot water and coarsely ground beans. The French press is a supremely stylish, simple and streamlined coffee-brewing system. It’s quick, too – in a matter of minutes coffee is ready, and the plunger prevents any grounds from escaping.
Hirsch Gift / PPAI 221823, S10 / www.hirschgift.com