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Promo Products Star In Dallas

Filed under: ASI Shows, Media Coverage, News About ASI

We kicked off the ASI show in Dallas in a really big way, with a terrific slate of education – and national news coverage of our industry.

Steve Noviello, an Emmy Award-winning consumer reporter for the Fox affiliate in Dallas-Fort Worth, reported a series of hot product segments from the Dallas Convention Center that were aired across the country.

The segments were seen by viewers in 13 markets, reaching a total potential audience of 610,606 — with a total publicity value for the industry of $27, 642. The reports, which ranged from 1-2 minutes, aired in Dallas, LA, Chicago, Philadelphia, DC, Atlanta, Detroit, Phoenix, Minneapolis-St. Paul, Orlando, Salem NC, Louisville KY and Gainesville, FL.

Steve discussed the power of promotional products and the strength of the industry itself while showing off some of the newest products we have to offer. He also included some election products, mentioning that the very first promotional products in the U.S. were commemorative buttons dating back to the election of George Washington in 1789 – and how much money the industry is expecting to make off the 2012 election.

Click here to view one of the segments, broadcast in Phoenix.

KDFW (also known locally as Fox 4) broadcasts more local news per week than any other station in the Dallas-Fort Worth metroplex and the most of any television station in Texas.

Steve’s team was terrific to work with, joining Counselor senior writer Dave Vagnoni and ASI Show’s executive director of operations, Cheryl Childers, at the Dallas convention center before sunrise to set up the segments that aired continuously across the country. Joe “The Joe Show” Haley worked hard at gathering all the products showcased during the segment and made sure everything arrived safely – and on time – in Dallas.

Thursday and Friday are exhibition days in Dallas, and Friday morning we’re in for a special treat with a keynote by Twitter co-founder Biz Stone. I hope to see many of you there!

Let me know what you think of the news coverage for our industry by posting a comment or e-mailing me here. I’m also on Twitter, LinkedIn and YouTube.


Onward To Dallas

Filed under: ASI Shows, Community, Media Coverage, News About ASI, Using Ad Specialties

We’re winging our way to the ASI show in Dallas for a three-day event that promises to be as action-packed as the great state of Texas itself.

Education day on Wednesday features  the “Industry’s Biggest Speed Networking Session”. As always, all sessions are eligible for credits in the ASI Certification Program. In addition to two days of exhibits featuring the industry’s hottest new products, Dallas features a brand-new gala at the Dallas House of Blues and a keynote by Twitter co-founder Biz Stone.

In addition to offering up some awesome business tips, Stone will let us know how one of the most influential social media outlets in the world opened opportunities in marketing, politics and philanthropy.

We’re definitely on a roll, especially considering what a great success we enjoyed in Orlando, with record-breaking education, a SRO keynote and 2,100 people whooping it up at Disney’s Animal Kingdom gala. If you missed us in Orlando, check out some video highlights:

Click here to see an interview on the Orlando Fox affiliate with keynoter James Carville, a Democrat who sparred onstage with Republican pundit Bill O’Reilly.

Click here for a wrap-up video with highlights from a barn-burner of a show.

Click here for best-selling product highlights from our Supplier of the Year, Hub Pen (asi/61966).

And click here for a roundup of terrific products for the adventurer set, featuring Counselor Distributor Choice Award winners.

Featured products include Tekweld natural insect repellent mister (asi/90807); carabiner bottle opener watch and matching wristwatch from Logomark (asi/67866); Elleven Amped checkpoint-friendly compu-backpack from Leed’s (asi/66887) and the Port Authority Nootka jacket from SanMar (asi/84863).

Let me know if you’re joining us in Dallas by posting a comment or e-mailing me here. I’m also on Twitter, LinkedIn and YouTube.


The Industry Responds

Filed under: Community, Media Coverage, Members, News About ASI

I received immediate feedback to my letter to members concerning President Obama’s call for cuts in federal government spending on ad specialties. I appreciate everyone who responded and applaud your passion – no matter where you stand on this particular issue.

The executive order titled “Promoting Efficient Spending” was posted Wednesday and made me feel less anxious about its overall impact on our industry. Section 7, Extraneous Promotional Items, reads: “Agencies should limit the purchase of promotional items (e.g., plaques, clothing, and commemorative items), in particular where they are not cost-effective.”

Can we live with that? Many of you who wrote think we should, for the overall good of the country. Others think Obama’s stance is anti-business and that his views on economic recovery are misguided.

One point I’d like to stress is that ASI is not partisan in any way. As an organization, we advocate on behalf of this industry – and not for or against any particular politician or political party.

Below is a sampling of some of your comments – with names removed. They represent what many of you are thinking:

  • I am not an Obama supporter, but unless we start spending within our means, our people are going to suffer like never before. This would be a far greater tragedy for our industry in the long run. 
  • Leave it up to Obama to mess things up for Americans.
  • As a conservative, I think our federal government needs to be much, much smaller, and every little bit will help. I’m sorry that some promotional products distributors and suppliers will lose some federal government orders, but if we could get our economy back on the right track, these sales could be more than made up for in the private sector.
  • Times are tough, and we all need to make cuts. Why should our advertising specialties be any different? 
  • We have complete idiots in Washington.
  • No matter what is cut, somebody is going to cry foul. 
  • I’m in the business and I’ll take the hit in order to save this nation from financial ruin.  Our government needs to cut, cut, cut. 
  • Everybody screams, “Cut the federal budget!” until the cuts start to impact their own business.
  • At a time when companies are struggling to stay alive, and we are hearing of more and more corporations filing for bankruptcy, we should be proud to offer promotional items and premiums as a way for corporations to reach their consumers in lieu of expensive media spending. 
  • Instead of cutting us out, have all of Congress pay for their own health care and save on the private gym, etc.

There have also been a number of articles written about this issue, including one that ran on the Politico blog, which quoted me. As it turns out, even Politico was unable to find any agencies that have paperweights, stress balls or coffee mugs.

In addition, I also spoke to a Washington Post reporter on the issue and was happy to continue to hammer home the cost-effectiveness of ad specialties – and how using them often actually saves the government money when compared to other forms of advertising. That’s a point all of us should be making – no matter which color state we live in. To read the Washington Post article, click here.

Stay tuned for more as this issue continues to develop. And keep writing, by posting a comment or e-mailing me here. I’m also on Twitter, LinkedIn and YouTube.


Applause! Applause!

Filed under: Media Coverage, News About ASI

One of the first things I ever won was an award for a school science fair project. To this day I can remember the pride I felt. But I doubt it even comes close to the feelings experienced this week by our publisher, Rich Fairfield, and editor-in-chief, Melinda Ligos, whose magazines just won five more national awards.

All told, Folio: presented ASI with two gold, one silver and two bronze awards for editorial and design excellence, capping a record-setting year for the editorial staff. In 2011 alone, ASI magazines won an astonishing 26 national awards.

Folio’s awards are considered the most inclusive and sought-after recognition in the industry, drawing more than 2,000 entries annually from magazines as impressive as Bloomberg Businessweek and Entrepreneur.

Personally, I think ASI’s magazines consistently come out on top because they provide a service to readers, complete with ace reporting on vital industry issues and dazzling photo spreads.

To check out the award winners yourself, just click on the links in the list below:

As top-notch as it is, the editorial department might have to make room for another byline – from our very own Rich Fairfield, who was published this week in none other than the venerable New York Times.

Rich wrote a very funny story for the Times’ “Frequent Flier” column about the trials and tribulations of logging more than a million miles in the friendly skies. Anyone who travels for business will relate to Rich’s first-person account. To read it, click here.

Let me know the last good story you’ve read by posting a comment or e-mailing me here. I’m also on Twitter, LinkedIn and YouTube.


Are You Ready For Some Football (Products)?

Filed under: Media Coverage, News About ASI, Research, Using Ad Specialties

Whether you’re betting on the Packers or the Bears, the Tarheels or the Cardinals, chances are you’re gearing up for some kind of NFL or college football party this season. Knowing how important football  and tailgating  is to millions of Americans, we conducted a survey on the use of gridiron-related promotional products.

Results show a whopping 66% of those surveyed have been given a free football-related shirt that also advertises a business.

The survey concerned tailgating habits along with the use of ad specialties in high school, college or professional football tailgating or parties. All told, 62% told us they’ve attended a tailgating event at a football game. So it’s clear that football-related promo products are a safe bet for businesses looking for inexpensive and effective advertising.

For a Joe Show demo of some cool tailgating promotional products, click here.

We sent out a press release with the survey results and it generated a lot of interest, including a story in the Big Lead Sports blog, which ranks No. 4 in the U.S. among all online sports properties in terms of unique visitors.

Other survey highlights you might be able to use to liven up a sales pitch:

  • In the last year, 62% bought a logoed football tee or polo shirt, followed by a hat (52%) and sweatshirt (44%).
  • Men eat more at football parties, indicating they’ve consumed hamburgers, sausage/brats, hotdogs, chicken and steak more often than women.
  • 72% participated in a football pool while tailgating.

Larry Basinait, our executive director of research services, also found the most popular NFL teams among those surveyed are Dallas Cowboys (10%), Chicago Bears (8%) and Pittsburgh Steelers, Green Bay Packers and New England Patriots (all 7%).

And like David Puddy in the “Face Painter” episode of Seinfeld, many tailgaters (17%) also report painting a part of their body before a game. In fact, nearly twice as many women as men have painted a body part for a football party (20% vs. 11%, respectively). That one really surprised me!

Fans surveyed about their favorite football-related item cited everything from an autographed Joe Namath helmet, Dallas Cowboys clock, Green Bay Packers Crock-Pot and stuffed Penn State Nittany Lion to vehicle flags, terrible towels, bobbleheads and custom golf carts.

Do you have a treasured souvenir? What’s the one product you always bring to tailgating events and games? Let me know by posting a comment or e-mailing me here.


Company Picnics Are Back, Baby

Filed under: Media Coverage, News About ASI, Research, Using Ad Specialties

Remember the company picnic? Maybe you attended one thrown by your dad’s company and marveled at seeing him tie-less, downing a beer with seldom-seen work buddies and playing baseball with the boss. We wondered about the current state of a time-honored summer tradition, so we conducted a survey to find out.

Larry Basinait, our executive director of research services, polled 400 companies and discovered 41% of respondents planned to throw a company picnic sometime this summer. And 8% said they’re hosting a picnic for the first time or the first time in recent years. For many, it’s a reward to employees for all their hard work during recent tough times.

Since no employee gathering would be complete without giveaways, we also learned 41% of respondents always give away ad specialties to attendees, and 28% sometimes do. Of those who give out items, 51% give away T-shirts; 44% give away recreational items like frisbees, games and toys; and 32% give away caps and headgear.

All told, companies responding to the survey spend an average of $4,116 on their company picnic. That’s a lot of hot dogs and inflatable slides.

We issued a press release on our results, which you can read here, and more than 150 outlets picked it up, including United Press International and a Wall Street Journal radio report broadcast on Pittsburgh’s KQV-AM, which you can listen to here.

One amusing side note from the survey concerns activities respondents said their company planned, which included everything from dunk tanks and egg races to drinking games, jousting and even medical testing. Whatever it takes to motivate employees!

Let me know if you attended or hosted a company picnic this year by posting a comment or e-mailing me here. I’m also on Twitter, LinkedIn and YouTube.


Vampires, Superheroes … And Ad Specialties?

Filed under: Industry Initiatives, Media Coverage, News About ASI, Research, Using Ad Specialties

Whether you’re a geek or a Gleek, you probably saw news reports on Comic-Con, a gigantic comics fanfest in San Diego. As CNN reports, promotional products were an undisputed “star” of the 42,000-strong annual convention.

Conventioneers collected free T-shirts and tote bags along with branded buttons, sunglasses and other souvenirs promoting popular franchises like True Blood, Twilight and the upcoming movie Captain America.

Click here to view the CNN report (wait past the inevitable commercial) and to take a look at numerous examples of imaginative ad specialties in action. Cape and alien mask optional for viewing.

On another “good news” front, I recently saw a blurb about a “prop drop” for the popular TV show The Office. The Greater Scranton Chamber of Commerce, a real organization in a real city where the fictional TV show takes place, asked local businesses to bring in promotional products touting their companies for possible display on the desks of characters like Dwight, Pam and Jim.

They asked for pens, mugs, magnets and the like in triplicate to be sent on to the show, which is about to embark on its eighth season on NBC. So next time you tune in, look closely at desk items to see what ad specialties you can spot.

All of this is boffo news for our industry, which Counselor Promogram just reported enjoyed the sixth consecutive quarterly increase in Q2 revenues. Ad specialty industry distributors increased their revenues by 5.9% in Q2, with sales totaling $4.6 billion, rising by $257 million compared to the same period in 2010. This follows a sales gain of 7.6% in Q1.

According to the survey conducted by our executive director of research services, Larry Basinait, the majority of surveyed firms are also forecasting continued growth during the rest of 2011. The number of distributors anticipating an increase in sales this year is four times greater than those that expect a decline.

That’s a great big “woo-hoo” for all of us, especially on the heels of a very successful gathering in Chicago.

Let me know which Office character you resemble and what you think of our latest survey by posting a comment or e-mailing me here. I’m also on Twitter, LinkedIn and YouTube.


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