|analytical Q||May-Aug 2000||Sept-Dec 2000||Contact||Discussion|
As a poor student, I used to collect free T-shirts and mugs given at exhibitions. During the recession, companies became more reluctant to give out T-shirts. Instead, they flooded their stands with cheap coasters, mousemats, pens, and notepads.
In this booming Internet economy, the dotcoms spend their venture capital funds on marketing toys like Parker pens, solar calculators, and leather luggage tags. It becomes a contest to see who's got the money to spend.
By far the most interesting was a combination Swiss army knife/can opener. When I tried to get a second one the next day, the lady at the stand said,"You're Anne. You got one yesterday, didn't you?" I meekly backed off.
The kind of freebies says a lot about the company. One consulting firm gave out modem connectors, sports bags, and teddy bears. I'd be proud to carry their bag. One software firm gave out 100% unbleached cotton T-shirts. Their logos were so tiny that I wouldn't mind wearing the T-shirt anywhere.
Any company which skimps on such promotional items inadvertently communicates their short-term outlook. Pencils smear. Erasers don't work well. Markers run out of ink. Keychains break. Such freebies are not worth collecting.