Everybody loves swag — you know, the Stuff We All Get — from conventions, trade shows, business meetings, wherever. Whether you pick it up at an exhibit hall kiosk, find it on a table at a seminar or have a swag bag left for you at your hotel, the stuff isn't as cool as the get.
America's makers of pens, mouse pads, coffee mugs, lanyards and various assorted useless and forgettable freebies are collectively squeezing their stress balls at the news that the government is getting out of the tchotchke business.
The promotional products industry is worried that President Obama's executive order to cut back on federal agency "swag" could lead to job losses.Or maybe it's a decision that should encourage these small businesses to do one (or both) of two things: make products that make sense for federal agencies to buy — the executive order on "Promoting Efficient Spending" says, "Sec. 7. Extraneous Promotional Items. Agencies should limit the purchase of promotional items (e.g., plaques, clothing, and commemorative items), in particular where they are not cost-effective." — or find people in the private sector willing to buy their stuff and give it away.
Obama this week ordered agencies to find ways to cut about $4 billion per year from the federal government’s budget for travel, cellphones, conferences and "swag" like agency-branded mugs and clothing.
“We certainly wouldn’t want people to stop using promotional products, if they can be used efficiently and effectively, in a knee-jerk way and cost jobs,” said Tim Andrews of the Advertising Specialty Institute, which represents the promotional products industry.
“For the president to say that buying promotional products is a waste is extremely troubling and shows how little he knows about the industry,” Matt Bertram, president of Fields Manufacturing, said in a statement. “This is again another example of our administration making quick decisions that will hurt small business.”
The less of my money the federal government needs for useless things, the better. Unless it's a SIGTARP jacket. I'll totally take one of those.