We have all heard of promotional products. We all know what promotional products are…or do we? According to Wikipedia, “Promotional merchandise, promotional items, promotional products, promotional gifts, or advertising gifts are articles of merchandise that are branded with a logo and used in marketing and communication programs. They are given away to promote a company.“ Simple enough, right? It seems like a logical definition.
So where exactly do we draw the line between a “promotional product” and a simple product with a logo on it? Or can we actually draw a clear, definitive line? At first thought, we all know what a promotional product is. Most would say a pen or a pencil (or another freebie item) that has a logo on it and in some way promotes a specific company, organization, cause, etc. But is there more to the world of promo items?
Let’s take Starbucks for example. What is their product? They sell coffee (and other overpriced food, but for argument’s sake we will just say it is coffee). What does the coffee come in? A cup with their logo conveniently printed on it. Why does the cup have a logo on it? To PROMOTE. People buy the drinks, leave the store, and carry them around all in plain sight of other consumers they cross paths with – and it wouldn’t be surprising if other people took notice of the brand name as it was being carried. Does that make the paper cup a promotional product?
What about a simple can of Coke? The product is Coke (the drink contained within the can) so what about the can? It is colorfully and clearly labeled with their logo to PROMOTE. The same scenario applies: People are inadvertently spreading brand awareness just by drinking a can of Coca-Cola. Does that make the can a promotional product?
Take the time to think about the previously mentioned definition before you answer the questions. If a “promotional product” is defined as an article of merchandise (with a logo) that’s used in advertising campaigns and given away to promote, then why wouldn’t a cup or a can TECHNICALLY be considered promotional products?
Now I’ll go back to my original question: Can we actually draw a definitive line between a promotional product and a regular product? I feel like we cannot have a generic definition for it without including products that we all know are not ACTUAL promotional products. Instead, I think the “definition” of promotional products is an abstract idea that we develop over time, through our experiences, giving us all the ability to decipher whether a product is simply that or whether it is a promotional product. However, I think it is nearly impossible to put this idea into words without including branded products!
Can you come up with a definition that is applicable to all situations and types of products? Or do you agree with me that we might have a definition but it is more of an idea?