Branding Beat - Cut Through the Noise

Cool But Unusual Promo Products: Creative Examples by Real Businesses

Figuring out what promo product to give away can be stressful. After all, you want to pick an item that your customers will like and use, but you also want to make sure that you’re giving away some personality. Creativity is key to striking the right balance.

So that got me thinking: What creative and unique items have businesses ordered as promotional products? Could this help other businesses promote their brand in ways they never thought of?

You might be a little hesitant to dive into promotional products because you’ve never attempted to order them and you’re not sure what to order or where to begin looking. If this is your business, or a company you work for, then you know what I’m talking about.

So that’s why I asked our friendly sales representatives to send over some of their more creative orders, and I was pretty impressed. Sadly, I didn’t find anyone who recently ordered these AM/FM Radio fanny packs, but what I did discover is that it’s not necessarily the product that stands out. It’s the business coupled with the products they ordered that makes for the interesting story.


So keep reading, and let the creative juices start flowing as we look as some unique and fun ways our clients have used promo products (some ordinary, some not so ordinary) to advertise their businesses.

Give ’em Something Sweet

Perhaps one of the more creative ideas I heard about came from a company called Swipely, which provides credit card processing for other businesses. The giveaways they’ve handed out aren’t exactly related to the company’s main source of business, but instead they tie the message back into their brand. It’s easier than it sounds, trust me.

They recently ordered power banks and added the slogan “Powerful Insights.” They also ordered custom mints (yes, we sell those!) and included the message “Fresh Insights.”


Gearing your message to the product itself is a great way to pull in interest, which turns into exposure for your company. Swipely was able to come up with a creative way to use products that don’t really relate to the software company, but still develops an interest in what they do. Plus, who doesn’t love mints and fresh breath?

So do you get the idea? Sure pens are useful, and are pretty much the universal promo product, but you don’t just have to get pens imprinted. Add in your own flavor and create a recipe that will make your customers come back for seconds!

Stress Balls: Unlimited Options for Unlimited Brands

Stress balls and relievers were definitely the most popular items I heard about for this blog, which isn’t surprising. Stress balls are consistently near the top of the most popular products we sell.

However, each example was a little different, and the types of businesses that ordered them couldn’t have been more contrasting. For example, a used car businesses ordering banana stress balls that they put in the exhausts of the cars on the lot. Why? Who knows, but if I’m in the market for a car and I drive by that lot you can bet I’ll stop in. Despite all the differences between them, the goal for all of these companies was the same: bring the customer back to your brand.


If you’ve never ordered promotional products before because you thought your industry doesn’t call for those types of items, then you should take a look at Haisley Funeral and Cremation Service. They recently ordered pineapple shaped stress balls. You read that right. Funeral homes and stress balls might not seem like an obvious match at first, but if you take a look at their website you’ll see that their logo is a pineapple. Seems to make a little more sense now, right?

That’s just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to stress relievers. I don’t know about you, but I had no idea how many custom stress balls are out there (I currently have Bubba and the entire cast of the Dilbert comics sitting on my desk). You can pretty much get anything made into something you can squish when you’re feeling the pressure at work. Take that idea, add your business to it, and you’ve got the beginnings of a great promotional product.

The next two businesses are great examples of this. EEAP the Safety People got pickle-shaped stress balls with the message that read, “In a safety pickle?” I’m not currently in a safety pickle, but I know who I’m going to call when that happens.


Adventure Advertising installs lettering and wraps vehicles in fun designs, but they used a very simple custom stress reliever to give their marketing plan a punch. Their message for a recent business expo was “Don’t be that person driving around in an unmarked van.” If you walked by their booth at the expo you might’ve left with an unmarked cargo van stress reliever.

What Do You Want to Say?

What do you want your promo product to say about your business? Is there a value, event, or company goal that you want to highlight? Picking a focus can help you decide on the product that will work for you.

Sometimes focusing on just an event you’re holding is a great way pick out a product. Ripley’s Aquarium ordered a comb and mirror set as part of a mermaid boutique they had, and gave them out as souvenirs to guests who attended the special event.

Or the focus could be on the business as a whole like Glen Eden Nudist Resort. They ordered a bunch of promo items…including shirts! Yeah, that was probably the oddest item (at least in my opinion) they ordered, but I guess even attendees need something to wear when they head home! The goal is to get your name out there for all to see, and the more products you get, the better chance you have at that happening.

Maybe you just really want to make a statement. Getting your name out at a trade show or expo can be a big challenge. All Jersey Mechanical tackled that obstacle by giving away Flying Shrieking Monkeys. If you’ve ever been to a trade show you know that there is a ton of swag. So common sense would say the more creative or usual your giveaways are, the better chance you have of attendees remembering you!

It doesn’t matter what industry you work in because there is definitely a product out there for you. Just get creative and have fun. Above all else, promo products are meant to help you promote your business by directly engaging with your customers in a way no other advertisement can.

It’s not always easy to see how a promotional product would work in a business or a given situation. That’s where we come in! Give us a call (1-866-312-5646). It’s always great to have an idea of where you want to go, and then we’ll be waiting to help steer you in the right direction if you need the assistance. You might not need sperm and egg stress balls for your Burning Man exhibit like actress Rosario Dawson, but just take a look around and you’ll find something that fits your business.

Have you ever gotten a crazy or unique promotional product? Have you used a creative product to advertise your business? What feedback did you get from your customers? Let us know in the comments!

expand your brand


Bubba is the Quality Logo Products mascot. He may have started out as "just a stress ball," but he's come a long way since the company's launch in 2003. Bubba has been immortalized in numerous vector artwork designs for internal and external promotions, and you can see him change outfits on the Quality Logo Products homepage whenever a holiday rolls around. Oh, and he thinks pants are for the birds. You can connect with Bubba on


  1. Chase

    Great article! I really like the Power Bank! I think that is a great promotion item! It is something that people can use all the time! I cannot tell you how many times my phone has gotten low on battery and I needed a charge, but could not get to an outlet! This allows for people to charge from anywhere! Such a great promo item! Keep it up!

    • PMO

      I agree 100%, Chase!

      These power banks are flying out of here via great customer orders. There really aren’t many markets at all that wouldn’t benefit from having these as a give-away.

      OK, maybe not farmers. Then again, I can see Farmer Ted running low on juice toward the end of his day plowing the fields. So who knows! Maybe EVERYONE needs one of these 🙂

  2. Leo

    Am/Fm Radio with Earphone Fanny Pack!? Yes please!! I can find a few clients that would get a kick out of this. Who wouldn’t? Find a fun creative way to promote your brand and/or business and it will definitely have your customer coming back!
    I have a great client who is in the medical field and is always looking for fun ways to capture their client’s attention. They have used items such as Portion Plates, Jump Ropes and Pill Cutters! What I especially loved about this client is that they didn’t forget about the kids! They ordered up some amazing coloring books with crayons! They go fast too! While the pineapple is may seem out of place for a funeral home, I think it gives it a sweet edge ?
    Off the bat, Haisley Funeral and Cremation Service’s logo is awesome! I think it is so inviting. It brightens things up a bit for something that can be hard to brighten up. I love when we are able to provide items for companies that will make a fun difference! We have had several of our clients use the Flying Pig Stress Ball. Why? Because it makes sense!! You can put that puppy with any company you’d like and it would make a fun splash. We have even used the Flying Screamin Pig! We shipped them all the way to Germany they loved them so much! So many uses for everyone! Think outside of the box and who knows what you’ll come up with.

  3. Michael Wenger

    You could have not said it better regarding stress balls- unlimited options for unlimited brands. If your marketing plan has a need for buzz, or at least the necessity for a giveaway that communicates your brand is FUN, a shaped stress ball is a good first item to consider. Stress balls come in every size and shape. I want to say there are just under 2,000 stress related items. And if that is not enough or you are in the need for something totally unique (say your company mascot, or your logo), its pretty easy to make a totally custom stress ball. Outside some time needed to make the clay molds, the production molds, the sample proofs, and then the journey from China, its well worth the wait. But if time does not allow, no worries, with 2k shapes at your disposal, you probably could find one that would work perfectly with your promotion.

    And we have seen it all. From fruit shapes to promote ag sales at economic development councils, to palm trees for vacation rentals. No matter what your need, stress balls can make a stress free, fun way of promoting your brand.

  4. Jaimie

    This blog was absolutely amazing! I couldn’t have worded it better myself. You can promote your brand in so many different ways, and that is what makes working in this industry so much fun. Every day we are hearing about different events and different businesses. It is just so cool hearing about different things that go on in this world and what people will do to make their business or event known. As this blog mentions about the car retailer with the bananas. Not exactly something I would think of a car dealership to give out, however, if I was wanting to get a new car, that would definitely be a place I would consider as their tactics are clearly stuck in my mind. People remember the clever, different things. Yes, pens are cool, and everyone needs them. But sometimes it is cool to step outside your shell and see what other promo products can do for your brand. So next time your thinking of handing out a promo item, ask your sales rep for other good ideas. We would be happy to help you expand your brand in some cool ways. ?

  5. Jay Hoffman

    As the lucky guy who did the Rosario Dawson stuff, I approve of this blog post!

    Often times companies get a little complacent with their giveaways. There’s nothing wrong with going with one of the items on our top 10 list, but at the same time, it’s better to speak with a salesperson to get some ideas. A lot of times people get stuck trying to tie in something that’s industry specific, when a lot of times it’s really a stretch (like a company that makes massive water pipes for city sewer systems buying pens made from recycled water bottles) and doesn’t work. If that’s the case, flying sock monkeys are a no brainer! The most successful promo products are the most memorable ones. Will they remember you by a pen? Maybe! Will the remember you if you give them a flying sock monkey… you bet your tote bags they will!

    Almost every industry has a trade show, and I’m sure even trade show display companies have them! If we don’t have something that will work for any company or any event, nobody does!

  6. Ryan

    Since I began working here (back before ‘nam), i’ve always recommended stress balls as a fun and interesting promotion. My first order as a sales rep here was for 2000 breast stress relievers. The company was bringing awareness for breast cancer, and what better way than a breast stress ball?
    If a funeral home can use pineapples to promote their brand, there’s definitely a fun stress ball for any brand.
    I’m glad that powerbanks were also given some face time as these things are hot right now. These powerbanks are not only useful, but super versatile. Any brand could give these out to promote their brand since everybody has cell phones now-a-days. Who wouldn’t want a little extra power on the go?
    This was an awesome blog Shaun, Kudos!

  7. Jen

    OK, I may be a tad biased here…but flying, shrieking monkeys? Come on; hands down, the coolest!

    I had the pleasure of working with Pat and team over at All Jersey Mechanical. When we first started chatting, I had to repeat myself several times so that I could make sure I was hearing him right. “Wait, you do what? You sell what to whom?…and you want monkeys?” I heard him out, we started working together and poof…the rest is history!

    Let’s be honest, trade shows and conventions can be less than stellar, and sometimes stuffy. We all have 500 tote bags, and they’re usually in our car or buried somewhere. If you happen to be like me, you also have way too many pens and end up leaving most of your goodies behind at these shows. How could you resist leaving behind a monkey, a pineapple stress ball, or a power bank with a clever slogan? These would all get prime real estate on any customer’s desk. What does that mean? More face time with your brand, and your contact information.

    These unusual items can at times be a tad pricier than our bestsellers, but the return on investment is far greater. What’s better than generating more business while putting a smile on someone’s face and being memorable?

  8. David Willits

    Great article about knowing your target audience and also knowing your business and what you’re trying to convey to your prospective/current clients. We have over 30,000 items on the site and we are constantly updating it. Even though there are tens of thousands of options out there already, sometimes it makes the most sense to create something from a cocktail napkin. I mean drawing board. The best thing about the promotional products world is that there are no limits. If you wanted to give out customized Ferraris, there are people (ME!!!) that’d love to help you out with that project. If you have ANY questions whatsoever, please let us help you out and guide you through the world of promo goodness. I guarantee you that we will learn something along the way that will help everyone out. Plus, how cool would it be to hand something out that you actually thought of and helped design?

  9. Anthony

    I think this is a great post to help get people in the general idea on what they want to move forward with. I think all of the new technology coming out, branding something like Power Banks and Phone Holders, is something that everyone can use. On the plus side, the logos printed on these look pretty dope as well! What could go wrong!?

    Plus promoting your business can get easier this way and how awesome would it be to see some random person on the street carrying something that you handed out at an event? Seeing something that I help produce makes me feel great so I can imagine it would feel pretty amazing. Awesome post. 😀

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