Denham: We Must Educate The Public Together
If reading this week’s Fast Company article that targets “cheap, disposable conference swag” brings on a sense of déjà vu, it’s warranted. The latest attack on our industry comes from the same writer and the same publication using the same language as a takedown attempt less than four years ago.
The only thing that is not the same, in fact, is the promotional products industry.
Those of us who make our careers and stake our names on this line of work know just how far we have come in prioritizing quality, sustainable products that are kept, used and valued by the people who receive them. We take pride in what we do, what we sell, and the results that are created by these essential elements of every brand. We strengthen companies that drive the economy and keep people employed. We support causes that make our communities better. We evolve and grow with the rest of the world, and in some cases we can help lead the way.
Like many of you, I lived through the fallout of the first FastCo article and others like it. And I saw this industry survive and rebound from a pandemic that wiped out most of the in-person experiences the writer references. So I know that promotional products aren’t going away – ever. I know that for a fact, also, because PPAI research supports how truly effective these goods are when it comes to spreading brand messages. Our 2021 consumer study revealed that, contrary to what one writer may imagine, 94% of people like receiving promotional products. Nine in 10 people agree that receiving a promotional product makes an event more memorable. Roughly that same number have kept these so-called “disposable” products for more than a year.
On the subject of sustainability, those of us in the industry realize just how many single-use plastic water bottles a high-quality branded tumbler might save the planet. And we know that the promotional t-shirt may be made from 100% recycled cotton, with a worthy give-back component attached to it. Strengthening corporate social and environmental responsibility throughout the channel is one of the key goals of PPAI.
But not everyone is aware of these facts about our industry, clients included. As they eyeball tightening budgets, some buyers will always be drawn to shop on price alone, and not take advantage of the truly great products available through our value-minded suppliers.
That is why PPAI believes in the importance of the Promotional Products Work initiative, and with it our first buyer-facing virtual event on September 29, Promotional Products Work Expo. Distributors who invite and host their clients at the free event will be able to prove to them – through education on the above topics and more, as well as exposure to exciting products – that the potential of promotional products is far beyond trinkets and trash.
Promotional Products Work Expo is about more than driving sales for the holiday season. It’s about helping to elevate promo.
Like the writer of the article, we all see the need to champion higher quality, eco-friendly products. These tend to come at higher costs, but with the benefit of widely enhanced brand value. And paired with the creative partnership of a great distributor, this is how our industry serves clients in the most impactful way.
It is disappointing for one company to trash the efforts of the entire promotional products industry in exchange for what amounts to an advertorial article. We have an opportunity to grow together. But more than that, we have a duty to elevate our medium and our standing in the public eye.
It starts with educating clients and industry professionals on the best that promotional products can be – universally valued and essential to every brand.
Let’s pull together and have that conversation with clients at Promotional Products Work Expo.