My three favorite swag items

Recently I bragged that I was attending MozCon*. A few reminded me to take an extra bag for all the t-shirts and USB drives. I groaned. More landfill swag. There’s a limit on how many cheap shapeless shirts and branded USB drives a girl can take.

Generally speaking I’ll decline all swag. It may be cute, but unless it’s useful or I want to advertise your brand for free, it’ll stay on your expo display.

However, I have three pieces of swag that I adore. One even lives in my handbag.

Fuzzy Head Pen

Swag-Fuzzy-PenI love that this was presented to me with a story. Recently I spoke at a social media workshop for the Episcopal Church. One of the attendees had this pen sticking out of his shirt pocket, and I commented on it. He told me the story.

The hair is a screen cleaner. Click the pen once and it’s a normal pen. Click it again and it’s a stylus. Yes, it’s branded for our organization. We support people at risk. We started helping teens at risk of drug addiction, but there are so many more things teens are at risk of: bullying, homelessness, pregnancy, leaving school. The kid design is to represent those we help. Here, have my pen.

To be honest, I’m a pen snob and will never use it, but it fits their brand well and the story was well-presented that I was impressed. I’ll pass the pen on, with the story of Unite Washougal.

Swiss Army Knife of Cables

Swag-cablesI’ve accepted branded iPhone cables before but none have made me excited enough to sneak another one for my best friend. This is the swag item that lives in my handbag. It’s the octopus of cables. OK, it only has six “legs” but you know what I mean. It has the original iPhone connector, a lightning cable, and three USB cables – two are mini USB. It’s compact and the cables are each probably only about 10cm, but it’s very useful. Especially when I’m charging my phone from a battery (a battery also lives in my handbag) I don’t want or need a long cable. The branding is also discrete but it’s useful, so the HP Helion logo would get more visibility than the tiny mints container I was given a few years ago. I only kept that around as an example of landfill swag.

An Always-Clean Lens Cloth

Swag-Lens-ClothThanks to Borrow Lenses for this one. It came in a swag bag at a photography workshop, so perfectly targeted. I’m not sure about you, but I never have enough lens cloths. Probably because I also wear glasses I go through them so fast, but they are also never quite as effective after they’ve been washed. I love this one because it came in its own little protector case that’s accessible with one hand. Am I the only klutzy one struggles with lenses and camera bodies and bags and life? It also has a carabiner clip for the side of my camera bag.

Bonus Swag Item – Hootsuite’s Owly Plush

Kathleen-Owly-SwagBeing fair, this one lives in my handbag because I love Hootsuite and want to endorse their product. It’s not for the swag item itself. It’s cute, but there needs to be a good story for me to carry plush around. Hootsuite has that. The Owly plush has also worked very well for them as a swag item. It’s very in-demand and the #LifeOfOwly hashtag on Instagram shows how often the fans and customers take and share photos of this little plush bird. My best friend steals it from my handbag for photos, and she’s a vet. Her niece has fallen asleep cuddling it.

What are your favorite swag items? Was it telling a story or practical – or both?

* I ended up skipping MozCon. It wasn’t worth spending $1,000 on me learning how to project the diocesan website into space when our current SEO barely gets us out the front door.

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