So the gang got back from the conference I didn’t get to go to Search Engine Strategies in San Jose and immediately Stoney tasked me with a scientific analysis of the Schwag they returned with.
Holding out two enormous bags of samples he meticulously collected from the conference floor, Stoney said my goals were twofold: to categorize the promotional items and log any ideas we could use for Pole Position.
My results, after much deliberation, are collected in the following super-technical report:
Who the hell chooses this crap and when are they going to get that miracle surgery so they can see again?
First, we needed a grading system. Being a huge fan of quadrants, it became clear to me that the schwag should be split up using two characteristics: coolness and brandyness.
Coolness is pretty obvious- someone in the group had to think the item was super cool (even if everyone else made fun of them for it). Brandyness was defined as how likely it is that the item will stick around and get the company name in front of people. We even created an attractive chart!
Once the grading system was in place, I attacked the pile with fervor, wading through untold amounts of plastic crap. This is not a job for the squeamish- if you have any children present, you may want to have them go into another room before reading the rest of this post.
Quadrant IV: Recycling Bin
If promotional items have souls, then this is the hell the bad ones end up in. They won’t end up helping you get business. They won’t make you friends. These items exist only to tell people you really don’t want them to remember you. Here’s a few highlights:
- Mushed up Cookie: Wow! Pre-mushed so I don’t have to go through the trouble!
- Luggage Markers: Gee thanks! I was just thinking my luggage needs more advertising!
- Stress Balls: If you have so little stress in your life that these help, you really need more stress.
- Huge Gaudy Lanyard: The perfect gift for the huge gaudy lifeguard in your life!
Quadrant III: I Got This Where?
These items are cool, but their branding effectiveness is cut short. Some of the winners in this category are:
- A Remote Control Helicopter: This thing is so awesome I’m crying right now. Unfortunately the logo someone slapped on it is lost on the ultra-busy box. I didn’t even know it was there.
- A bag of M&M’s: no other info: Well, thanks for the M&M’s, mystery company.
- Orange Soda: Stoney says it’s from a company called Orange Soda- Please tell me they make orange soda and not, um, web stuff. Then they might want to use “Web Stuff Soda.” Just a thought.
- A Nalgene Bottle: One thing to note: If you make your logo the same color and size as the one already on the bottle, you just wasted a bunch of money- Stoney thought there was an SEO company called Nalgene.
Quadrant II: Crap Drawer
This is stuff that you think you want, so you put it in your crap drawer. It’ll sit around, but it’s not cool enough to ever actually get used. Most of this is the result of a good salesman at the promotional item company- not well thought-out branding. Some stand outs:
- Pens: Because everyone needs pens, right? For their crap drawers.
- Mints: The road to hell is paved with promotional mints. They will never, ever help anyone’s breath- unless they live in my crap drawer.
- Mousepads: Dude, pass the mousepad- it’s right there on the table next to 1994. Thanks.
Quadrant I: Ideas We’re Going To Steal
Oh man- now these are awesome. These items are cool, they’re useful and they’re going to get in front of a lot of eyeballs.
- Timbuk 2 Bag: Wow. Now this is impressive. I may just have to steal this after I publish this post.
- A Google T-Shirt: I’m sorry, but they could have a picture of dog poo on the front and I’d love it ’cause it’s from Google. Mad? Then you go become the biggest name in search and I’ll love your shirt.
- Moleskine Knockoffs: Dude, I don’t even care they’re not real- I think I speak for all the other Moleskine fanboys when I say “hells yeah.”
- Hand Sanitizer: It may seem plain, but after touching all those other dirty, dirty conference people all day it’s a welcome treat.
- Pint Glass with Energy Drink: Um, hello? You make me think of either alcohol or caffeine and you have my attention.
We are so totally stealing these ideas for Pole Position Schwag. That is, right after I literally steal them all from Stoney.
Check out more detailed analysis in the photoset or click any of the thumbnails below.