How Many Brand Impressions Do Promotional Products Actually Get? [INFOGRAPHIC]

These days, a buck can’t buy much. Or can it?

Data collected from various sources including a newspaper, the Nielsen company, and the Outdoor Advertising Association of America reveal that your marketing dollar goes MUCH farther than you’d think. For example, for each dollar invested, your imprinted tote bag is receiving 1,000 brand impressions! Billboards and writing instruments are tied at half that with 500 brand impressions per dollar while custom calendars, engraved glassware, and personalized shirts round out the top five.

Infographics make this information even more dramatic when you compare the size of a marketing dollar spent on tote bags to, say, national magazines (only 22) and radio spots (a mere 17!).

Bubba will show you how many brand impressions one marketing dollar can get your company with the following infographic:

Brand Impressions Per Dollar

Holy cow – you can get a thousand brand impressions from one dollar invested into custom bags? Brand impressions are great, and it’s cool if you see an imprinted pen or a custom hat, but that’s only in passing, right? You don’t wear an embroidered hat every day, and maybe your job is away from an office where you use pens. The real question is: how many promotional products do people actually own?

Number of Promo Products Owned

Wow, that’s a lot! I can’t imagine having so many promotional products around me. Well, my toothbrush does have my dentist’s name on it, and the personalized pen I was writing with earlier has the name of my bank. The emergency custom sewing kit in my purse has my alma mater’s mascot on it (which reminds me that I need to write my annual check to the alumni fund), and the customized nail file I was just using has the name of my hair salon… I guess it does add up!

That’s great if people have promotional products lying around their house, but you want them out and about! Promotional products don’t reach a wide audience if they’re used maybe once a day or stay inside someone’s home. Customized bags give 36 brand impressions every single day. That’s once EVERY FORTY MINTUTES! Personalized caps and custom writing instruments like imprinted pens are no slouches either, each gathering a quick 15 impressions daily. So how many brand impressions does each product see each day?

Daily Brand Impressions

Are any of these figures surprising to you? What promotional product do you notice the most often when you’re out and about in the world? Which promotional products do you think have the hardest time reaching a wide audience? Sound off in the comments below!

Until next time, keep expanding your brand!


Source: Global Advertising Specialty Impressions Study

Jana Quinn

An old ‘G’ that’s been working for QLP since it was in Bret’s basement – Jana has been writing since she made up a story about a Jana-Tiger that liked rocky road ice cream and got straight A’s. She enjoys writing about marketing and pop culture, posting a ‘Die Hard’ article as often as she’s allowed. She is inspired by the articles at Cracked and frequently wears a Snuggie in the office. You can also connect with Jana on Google+.


  1. JPorretto

    What great info graphs! Of course, my favorite is the pac-man one. But other than that, nothing shows the impact better than big bubbles, pie charts, and the like. Sometimes people just need to see it visually before they truly understand the difference.

    Nice Post!

  2. Mandy K

    I totally would not have thought that tote bags would lead in brand impressions. Then again, the cost of a tote bag is significantly lower than the cost to rent a billboard.

    • Jana Quinn

      Also, how much brand information is someone getting from a billboard? Other than being an eyesore and traffic hazard, it also fails at getting sustained customer attention (unless it’s in a heavily congested area). However, if someone passes the same billboard every day, and it’s designed in a way to bring general awareness to a logo or brand name, it could be effective as repeated brand exposure.

      Although I don’t know how much I would like my brand being associated with bubbling road rage…

  3. Joseph Giorgi

    That’s a whole lot of Bubbas!

    Great infographics, Jana. You should definitely publish more posts like this. Infographics are hugely popular these days and are always fun to read/look at. :)

    Of all promo products, custom t-shirts would probably be the ones I see most often when I’m “out and about.” Then again, I see quite a few custom pens as well.

  4. Amy

    Holy Moly! I knew promotional items made an impact, but never to that extent! I always take notice of where my pen is from if they write really nicely/smoothly. And you can’t go wrong with t-shirts, if I had a dollar for every “free tshirt” I have I’d be rich. They’re great to work out in at the gym and talk about free advertising, right? Great post Jana!

  5. ASneed

    Nice post Jana! I like seeing information in this format once in a while….very neat, and colorful. That pacman is awesome!

    It does make sense that tote bags gain the most exposure, since people generally “tote” things around outside of their home. But I don’t think I notice bags as much as pens. It seems I’m always making notes about one thing or another. I think bumper stickers have a big impression–I always read them when I see them, but now days, it seems there are very few cars with bumper stickers.

    @Amy–Agreed! I always notice where a pen is from and if it writes nicely. I have always been a fan of Bic pens, and I always notice when a real cheap pen is handed out and it doesn’t write worth a darn…I throw it out asap. And I always think, they should have spent 10 more cents and got a Bic.

  6. LK

    I’m surprised promo drinkware doesn’t have more brand impressions. Maybe because not many people share their drinkware, but you see sport bottles at the gym, tumblers on the go, coffee cups at work and in other people’s homes. Plus, with the popularity of “I’m Not a Paper Cup” cups and “I’m Not a Plastic Cup” cups I feel like promo drinkware is even more common than before!

  7. admin

    HOLY CRAP! – you did an EXCELLENT job with these infographics Jana. I especially like the one demonstrating the REACH of promotional products.

    Is there any information offered in the study about brand recall?

    Impressions and the # of products owned is one thing; but what good is it if no one remembers the bank’s or dentist’s names once it’s all said and done?!?!

    • Jana Quinn

      Thanks! It’s amazing what you can do with Microsoft Paint, a few hours, and a couple dozen expletives. ?

      As far as brand recall goes, the study DID look at that. However, it was so unscientific that I did not include it in the article. Respondents were basically asked if they could remember the brand, but there is nothing in the report to suggest they were tested in any real way.

      For what it’s worth, here are the results:

      -83% in the U.S. indicated they could identify the advertiser on a promotional item they own, very similar to 2008 (84%).
      -Britons feel they have the best memory, as 94% thought they could identify the advertiser on an item.
      -Glassware/ceramics (87%) and shirts (86%) have the highest recall.
      -Electronics/computer items have the lowest recall (31%), suggesting a need for better advertiser identification.

      The authors note that there were so few respondents for automotive and electronics/computer that the data should be considered with caution.

      There’s also an entire chart in the study that breaks down the “brand recall” product by product. Click on the link at the bottom of the article to check out the primary source for more info!

  8. Wim @ Sales Sells

    Hi Jana,

    The results didn’t really surprise me, but I’m a bit disappointed that the researchers didn’t include internet advertising (text, banner,…). I would love to know how they compare to the others in terms of brand impressions. Somehow I still believe that internet advertising provides the best bang for your buck.


    • Jana Quinn

      Wim, thanks for replying. The research does say that “internet” ads cost $0.003 per impression (falling right about in the middle of the different promotional products), but there was no operational definition of “internet,” so I did not include it.

      Does that mean banner ads? Direct email? Google search ads? Guest blogging?

      I can definitely see where you’re coming from with internet advertising being the best bang for your buck. The internet reaches a worldwide audience and advertising placement protocols are rapidly adapting to individuals’ browsing habits, making content more relevant to internet users. I can’t tell you how often I see ads for Chicago Rush tickets, and it’s probably due to the fact I have looked up the schedule and stats for the AFL several times. However, I have season tickets already, so it’s not like they’re getting any new customers by advertising to me; it’s a double-edged sword.

      There are some catches with internet advertising, though. First, they’re too similar to commercials or radio spots in their temporary life span. If you’re not paying attention, it’s gone. There’s no tangible item to check back with if you saw something you liked and maybe accidentally erased the email from your trash/spam folder or closed out the browser window too quickly.

      There are also websites where video ads that take over the screen can be closed immediately or – as it has been in the case of 3 websites I used to use – so intrusive and annoying that it has stopped me from using the site altogether: a negative consequence not only for the advertiser but also for the hosting site.

      Also, it is interesting to note that there’s no indication if the brand impression cost for the “internet” takes into account ad-blocking/pop-up killing software.

      What kind of internet advertising do you use? What have you found to be the most successful/give you the best return?

  9. Jill Tooley

    Jana, you’re officially an infographic master. Thanks for putting all of this information together. These graphics are much more exciting than scanning statistics! Promotional products rock! :)

  10. The Art of the Trade Show Freebie: 6 Dos & Don’ts from ASI Chicago 2012

    […] as a promotional products website, we often discuss promo items and the effectiveness of free stuff on this blog. Freebies rock, and one place where you’ll see a ton of them is at a […]

Leave a Comment

Copyright 2003 - 2015 Quality Logo Products, Inc., Registration No. TX7-524-201. All Rights Reserved.