Cynthia T. Graham

Cynthia T. Graham

For the thousands of customers whose businesses take them into some of the most extreme working conditions, the right gear is essential. Besides the traditional selections of jackets and coats, promotional workwear is evolving to include useful accessories that keep end-users out of harm’s way. SAFETY FIRST The buzzword in promotional workwear these days is “safety,” according to Kevin Xiao, vice president at Ontario, California-based Atteff International. To that end, Xiao said, while traditional jackets and overalls continue to permeate the workwear category, a variety of safety accessories are emerging and gaining popularity. “Traditionally, rugged workwear was mostly limited to work clothes,” he

The Proof is in the Products

ORE ASSOCIATIONS AND organizations are starting to realize the power of promotional products. In the past, some [nonprofit] organizations would be skeptical about spending money on a pin because they felt every penny should go to research. We’ve now seen that nonprofits are realizing that they can increase their donations by offering a small item.” These sentiments expressed by Kelly Grant, vice president of business development at Sonoma Promotional Solutions, Sonoma, Calif., should give distributors interested in the nonprofit/cause-related market reason to rejoice. It is precisely this kind of thinking that has been instrumental in the growth of the promotional awareness product category,

Baggage Claims

WHEN OUTDOOR TEMPERATURES start climbing, the travel itch for millions nears its peak. People get in a frenzy to hit the beach, the lake—wherever they can go to escape the hustle and bustle of everyday life. Only then does the luggage they tucked away inside some closet the year before become top priority. And when the last flight to paradise is leaving within a few hours, the forgetful traveler can’t help but wonder why she didn’t bother to inspect her collection months ago. The last-minute discovery that her bag’s shoulder strap is hanging by a thread and two of its four wheels are


THE COLLEGE DEMOGRAPHIC has long provided inspiration for artists, musicians, activists, sports enthusiasts, and as of late, presidential candidates. This important crowd is also where most designers and fashion-industry insiders who know anything about anything go to for creative guidance. If co-eds are wearing it, talking on it or riding in it, it will surely survive. In the case of promotional collegiate apparel, which has traditionally been regulated to the all-too-familiar sweatshirt/sweatpants/jeans/T-shirt/baseball cap/sneakers ensemble, there seems to be a rise in a trend toward more fashionable clothing. And these fashions outfit students (and their parents) in stylish selections from dusk ’til dawn. FROM

POINT, Click & Accessorize

DURING THE DOT.COM era of the ’90s, computers themselves were all the rage. Thousands of Internet-based companies sprung up, providing a variety of work-from-home options for office-weary workmongers and investment opportunities for business trailblazers. But while computers continue to remain relevant to all things personal and professional, it is now the accessories that go along with them that have captured the attention of end-users and consumers alike. From earbuds to flash drives and digital photo frames to USB pens, the category provides unlimited promotional appeal for tech-savvy distributors and their clients. Why computer accessories? According to Scott Meng, marketing coordinator at Houston-based


THOSE WHO ARE intimately involved with the complexities of the golf game are generally interested in the latest and greatest golf equipment, including clubs, practice tools, ball markers, golf bags and the like (see page 22). However, when was the last time anyone heard the announcer at a golf tournament highlight a player’s high-tech polo or fancy footwear? Other players in other sports get it. Consider tennis’ famed Williams sisters who gained worldwide acclaim (aside from their wicked backhands) for the more-stylish-than-usual mini skirts and cropped tops they donned during each match. Well, consider this as golf apparel’s runway debut. According to two

Manifest Destiny

IT’S HARD NOT to detect a sense of pride in the tone of business owners who manufacture domestically. The whole thing can be likened to a proud father announcing the birth of his firstborn son. At this year’s PPAI Expo in Las Vegas, this writer marveled at the countless booths that donned the “Made in the USA” designation. From household items constructed of plastic derived from U.S.-grown corn to U.S.-manufactured T-shirts decorated with crystals, the selections were endless. Then, it suddenly made sense—despite all the hype of overseas manufacturing purported to being the wave of the future, American manufacturing continues to thrive in

The Lighter Side of Business

NO MATTER WHAT tantrums Old Man Winter appears to be throwing outside, spring is right around the corner. And with spring comes change—particularly, a change in apparel. The time has come to ditch the tweed jackets and wool slacks for a lighter (and brighter) style of dressing. In the business-casual sector, this means a re-embracing of popular styles that not only help end-users bring a little leisure to the office, but also make for an easy sell for distributors. WHY BUSINESS CASUAL? Arthur Weiss, corporate sales account executive at Miami-based Perry Ellis International, praised the business-casual category as one that can foster employee productivity. “Years


DISTRIBUTORS WOULD DO well to check out the latest health and wellness products. From items comprised of amped-up oxygen to those that undergo rigorous testing to ensure efficacy and even those that help ease neck pain, this year’s health and wellness products have come to the aid of ailing bodies and bottom lines. A REFRESHER COURSE Ballanda Corporation, Santa Fe Springs, Calif., brings something breathtaking to the industry this year—oxygen. The company is the exclusive supplier of O+ (Oxygen Plus), a portable oxygen product that “boosts energy, increases alertness and alleviates the effects of jet lag, altitude and [hangovers],” according to


T’S NOT THAT easy being green. When Icelandic musician, Bragi Thor Valsson penned this lyric decades ago—which later became famous in the 1970’s by everybody’s favorite frog, Kermit—he couldn’t have known how prophetic the words would one day prove to be. Aside from providing a lovable children’s puppet with a cathartic means by which to come to terms with his self image, the lyric has, for this writer, come to epitomize the largely unspoken sentiment felt by much of the industry—What exactly does it mean to “go green?” For many suppliers, such as Fenton, Missouri-based QuickPoint, going green has to do with the incorporation,

Don’t Rain on My Parade

DURING THE TIMES of pharaohs and pyramids, umbrellas were a convenience reserved only for the upper-echelon of society. However, 21st- century umbrellas have much more to do than shield royalty from rain and shine. They are one of the few ad specialty products deserving of the title, “walking billboard.” With new imprinting techniques and equally modern designs, umbrellas are expanding their scope as viable promotional products. Helen Stromberg, president of Hudson Valley Umbrella/StrombergBrand, Peekskill, N.Y., said, “Umbrellas really started taking off when the imprinting technology started advancing ten years ago.” Now, with a wide selection of printing methods available—digital printing, heat transfer and sublimation, for example—vibrant,

Living in the Lap of Luxury

TIME HAS COME to answer the question, which, truthfully, has long been decided by some of the leading fashion houses: What’s in for spring? This year’s answer is not color, nor is it cut. Don’t be surprised that length is not it, either. This spring, fabrics are where it’s at. “The newest thing in business casual apparel is a gradual swing toward upscale fabrics,” noted Lee Strom, senior marketing manager at Seattle, Wash.-based SanMar. But, it’s not just any kind of fabric that’s in. “Luxury fabrics, like silk, are becoming more obtainable and are available at approachable price points,” explained Strom. Strom couldn’t be

Let’s Make it Personal

THE FACT IS, people enjoy taking care of themselves. And with this innate self-preservation quality of humankind, it comes as no surprise it would bring rise to a bustling promotional product category that proclaims: “It’s just me, myself and I,” as was so eloquently put by ’80’s hip-hip pioneers, De La Soul. Distributors looking to freshen up their bottom lines (and their sales pitches) should consider personal-care items. Manufacturers of these products say there are few other promotional product categories that offer the same repeat-order consistency. A 2005 survey conducted by PPAI showed personal-care products accounting for 1.58 percent of total industry sales. Just one


THE PROMOTIONAL PRODUCTS industry is an evolving one. Case in point: a little over five years ago when this writer first came aboard the Promo Marketing (formerly Promotional Marketing) ship, there was little, if any, talk of the environment and what the industry could do to preserve it. However, within the past two years alone, it seems the entire industry has gone “green,” with both suppliers and distributors heralding their environmentally responsible business practices and industry publications dedicating entire issues to the topic. Even with the widespread attention environmental safety has received, there are other notable topics brewing in the industry these days.

Hey, Mr. Good Looking

HE SWAGGERS UP to the entrance with a smug look on his face, and with good reason. His finely tailored suit fits his chiseled body to a “T.” He notices the approving glances all around him. He knows he looks good. The jacket sleeves stop just short of a costly set of diamond-studded cuff links. His pants are impeccably creased and fall atop brilliantly shined shoes. With damsel on arm, money in pocket and skip in step, he crosses the threshold. The party has just begun. DRESS THE PART There is much truth in the popular saying, “Dress the way you want to be addressed.” A