Corporate Branded Gifts also known as Promotional merchandise, with a nickname as ‘Swag’ or ‘schwag’ are products, often branded with a logo or slogan, used in marketing and communication programs. They are given away to promote a company, corporate image, brand, or event at trade shows, conferences, and as part of guerrilla marketing campaigns.
Jasper Meek, a printer in Coshocton, Ohio, is considered by many to be the originator of the industry when he convinced a local shoe store to supply book bags imprinted with the store name to local schools. Henry Beach, another Coshocton printer and a competitor of Meek, picked up on the idea, and soon the two men were selling and printing marble bags, buggy whips, card cases, fans, calendars, cloth caps, aprons, and even hats for horses.
In later years these catalogues could be over-branded to reflect a distributor’s corporate image and distributors could then give them to their end user customers as their own. In the early years promotional merchandise catalogues were very much sales tools and customers would buy the products offered on the pages. In the 1990s new catalogue services emerged for distributors from various sources. In the nineties there was also the creation of ‘Catalogue Groups’ who offered a unique catalogue to a limited geographical group of promotional merchandise distributor companies.
Up until the 1990s the industry had a peak season in which the majority of promotional products were sold. The season featured around Christmas & the giving of gifts. This changed significantly in the early 1990s as Christmas gifts became less appropriate. Corporate companies were also becoming more inventive in their marketing and were now using promotional merchandise throughout the year to support the promotion of brands, products & events.
Distributor companies are experts in sourcing creative promotional products as they kept themselves aware of the trade product ranges and by attending trade exhibitions across the world. Almost every distributor demonstrated a range of available promotional products on their website. They help end-users gather artwork in the correct format, and in some cases also create artwork for end-users. Promotional merchandise is used globally to promote brands, products, and corporate identity. They are also used as giveaways at events, such as exhibitions and product launches, and the following are considered what might be a cool corporate branded gifts in Nigeria: t-shirts, caps, keychains, posters, bumper stickers, pens, mugs, koozies, toys or mouse pads.