2011 ASI Chicago Show: One Newbie’s Adventure (and Bag of Promo Goodies)

As a relatively new member of the Quality Logo Products content team, this was my first year attending the Advertising Specialty Institute show in Chicago, or ASI. I had a blast with my co-workers and supervisor and learned so much about promotional products, which was pretty easy since there were over 700 vendors there showcasing the best items in the industry.

I had no idea what to expect and I had only heard of the legendary swag we’d get to take home, but the show didn’t disappoint. So, what do you pass out to attract potential customers at a promotional products trade show? Haven’t we seen it all? You’d think so, but there were several products that blew me away and stood out among all of the personalized pens, candies, tote bags, stress balls, lanyards, and koozies at the booths (to name a select few).

These sturdy fans were godsends at the convention!

These sturdy fans were godsends at the convention!

In case you don’t keep track of the weather here in Northern Illinois, allow me to share with you that on Wednesday, July 20, Chicago experienced almost record-breaking heat and humidity (if you were outside though, you’d swear we surpassed the record by a landslide). Because of that fact, the fans you see to the right were my favorite of the day. Convention halls are not known for their stellar air-conditioning units, even in the best of weather. If you’re a soon-to-be exhibitor at a trade show, I highly recommend these durable Plastic Fans with your company’s name and information on them. A small breeze was a godsend, and as a newbie trade show visitor I had no idea of the conditions. I was glad someone else knew ahead of time and came prepared.

Mr. Suave Pen

How could I not smile at this click pen?

The best pens of the day were these Mr. Suave Pens. I have one in my cup holder on my desk and I smile every time I click his head to write with. They’re just one of those promotional products that are so different from the standard click pens I come across on a daily basis. I’d also like to add that as a pen snob (I hate pens that don’t write smoothly or the ink isn’t dark enough to actually read in fluorescent lights), they’re great! The cushion also makes it easy to write for a longer amount of time without your hand cramping up. Instead of debating cap or click, you should be asking yourself; cap, click or clever?

Superhero Bubba saves the day!

Superhero Bubba saves the day!

The top prize for my favorite stress reliever was hands down this little guy. I love Bubba as much as every other QLP employee, but c’mon! It’s Bubba in a superhero costume! I’d be a liar if I said I didn’t squeal out loud when I saw him. He also now has a spot on my desk (one day I’ll have to take a picture of my desk and post it in a blog), and he’s a great conversation starter from passersby. Anyone can pass out round stress balls, but why not send a superhero to do the job of promoting your brand? (I’d also like to clarify that he’s wearing a yellow belt, his shirt is not just too small).

The ASI Chicago show was a great experience and one that I hope to be a part of again. The biggest thing I pulled away from this show’s giveaways is that sometimes simple and unique products, occasionally mixed with a dash of hero power, will make a larger impression than expensive and flashy giveaways.

Here are some close-ups of the promotional products we took home with us on our ASI adventure:

Can’t get enough of the advertising specialty industry? Check out previous ASI posts by Joe Giorgi, Jana Quinn, and Jill Tooley.

Which promotional products are your favorites? Do you have any questions about the ASI Show or about the industry in general?

Amy Hoidas

Amy is one of Quality Logo Products’ Community Manager. She is a self-professed newspaper nerd and thoroughly enjoys reading business and financial news and having impromptu discussions about it. Oh yeah, she’s “one of those” people! A true Midwestern girl by nature, she loves riding her bike, photography, and the Chicago Cubs. You can also connect with Amy on


  1. Mandy Kilinskis

    After pawing through most of your swag, I can totally attest that you came home with some awesome giveaways! Simple and unique definitely stood out to me. As did that awesome glitter unicorn temporary tattoo. Whomever passed that out is BRILLIANT.

    • amy

      You should have seen their booth, all they had were giant clear displays filled with temporary tattoos in various shapes and styles. We had a blast sorting through them and the vendor was really nice and didn’t give a sales pitch, but was still available if we had questions.

      I think that awesome glitter unicorn temporary tattoo is the true definition of “simple and unique”.

      • Amanda

        Looks like you all came away with some really cool stuff! The glitter tattoos sound awesome!

  2. Scooby

    I’d say that we got our money worth! 😉

    • amy

      You can say that again! My shoulder hurt for three days after lugging around my tote full of goodies. It was so worth it though 😉

  3. Joseph Giorgi

    Excellent post, Amy! The ASI Show was a blast, and the swag was definitely memorable. Like you, I’m hoping I’ll get to attend next year.

    “Instead of debating cap or click, you should be asking yourself; cap, click or clever?”

    That’s a really ‘clever’ line! Well done. 🙂

    Oh, and thanks for clarifying that Superhero Bubba’s shirt isn’t just undersized. At first glance, he does look a bit out of shape. I laughed when you pointed that out.

    • amy

      Thanks Joe 🙂

      I personally did a double-take when I looked at Superhero Bubba at first glance, just wanted to avoid any confusion from others LOL

      • Amanda

        Clever pens are the sweetest!! They’re usually so cute. =) I think click pens are still my real fave though. There’s no cap to lose, and clicking is just fun sometimes.

        • amy

          I prefer capped pens most of the time, because I can throw them in my purse and not worry about them ruining my purse’s lining. However, I totally agree that click pens are way more convenient.

  4. Jana Quinn

    Nice review, Amy. You make a great point about plastic fans being perfect for conventions in ANY weather. The pen you picked out is fantastic, too – the little guy’s head makes him stand out among other promotional pens. Great finds!

    • amy

      Thanks Jana 🙂 At first I was like, “how lame are these?” but then the temps rose and I thought how they were such a great idea LOL

  5. Ness

    Can I go next year? I really enjoy going to conventions!

    …then again, it may depend on the weather. 😉

    • amy

      It was great! I personally could have done without the 108 degree heat index, but I’d go again in a heart beat 🙂

  6. Sally Johnson

    I am so jealous of all the stuff you got or “swag” as you call it, haha! 🙂 I would like dibs on the noodle twisty thing and the little notebooks. It looks like you had a blast!

    • amy

      Thanks for commenting Sally!

      The noodle twisty thing is great to play with while I try to come up with descriptions and blog ideas 🙂 Well worth the trip!

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