When it comes to marketing, nothing beats promotional products in their ability to stand the test of time. Your billboard will eventually be replaced, your ad in the newspaper will be tossed out (or if you’re lucky, used as wrapping paper by a thrifty gift-giver), and even your social media posts will get buried by newer posts.
Promotional products, on the other hand, have staying power – at least when done well.
We wanted to know what types of promotional products had that special something that made people hold onto them for years, so we did our own mini research project and found that the items typically fell into at least one of three categories. Read on to find out what they were!
We asked our team members: what is your oldest promotional product? What made you keep it for so long?
Sarah Blake – Account Manager
Sarah’s oldest promotional product is a t-shirt from her alma mater, Cardinal Stritch University. She bought it from the bookstore the summer before she started school and has had it for 17 years! “It’s comfortable and reminds me of many wonderful memories as a student,” Sarah says.
Hannah Batts – Senior Account Manager
Here at Magellan, we love a good t-shirt! Hannah’s oldest promotional product is also a t-shirt from her alma mater, Wisconsin Lutheran College, that she received when she first toured the school just shy of a decade ago. She said that even though it doesn’t fit, it has stayed in her closet because she wore it often while she was in school and “it just brings back those memories.”
Cassi Dreyer – Account Manager
Despite her frequent efforts to purge anything she doesn’t use frequently (she says Marie Kondo would be proud!), she has held onto a spatula she received from Livingston State Bank, her hometown bank, for around 12 years. She grew up on a farm in a rural area and when she went to Milwaukee for college, that spatula felt like a reminder of her small town roots. Plus, she points out, “what college student had utensils?”
Amy Pearson – Graphic Designer
Back to college we go! Amy’s oldest promotional product is a sweatshirt from Northern Arizona University, where she went to college. She’s had it for around 20 years, and says she’s held onto it because it’s a “great quality item and still in very good condition.”
Alyssa Adriansen – Director of Accounts
Alyssa’s oldest promotional product is a long sleeve t-shirt from a volleyball charity event in 2003. It was an event called Spikes for Tykes, a fundraiser for the Elmbrook Rotary Club, and Alyssa got the shirt for participating on the volleyball team. She still keeps it around because it’s comfortable and one of her few long-sleeve shirts.
Rachel Schaar – Office Guru
We all need a good lawn chair, don’t we? Rachel agrees, and that’s why she still has a set of folding lawn chairs from Cooper Power Systems for 20 years. She’s held onto them all these years because they’re useful, comfortable, and have held up well over the years.
Steve Baker – Associate Director of Campus Relations
You might be sensing a trend here, but Steve’s oldest promo item is also from his alma mater! He still holds onto his t-shirts from New Student Weekend and Convocation from the University of Minnesota because they hold great memories and they make great workout shirts!
Michael Wolaver – Captain
Michael’s oldest promotional product is a 1994 World Cup ceramic mug provided by Sun Microsystems. Michael’s dad worked for Sun, who was a sponsor. As a huge soccer fan, Michael was thrilled when his dad brought the mug home from work. He then brought it with him to college, and has stayed with him ever since! Michael was also lucky enough to attend one of the 1994 World Cup games in Chicago (Germany vs. Spain), making the mug all the more special. “When I look at the mug, I think about my World Cup experience and how special that time was for US Soccer!”
Audrey Schlicht – Account Coordinator
The hockey jersey style Wisconsin Badgers sweatshirt that Audrey has isn’t just her own – while she doesn’t know its exact age, it has been in her family since at least the 1990s! Audrey says, “I have a ton of great memories attending Badger hockey games in Madison with my family growing up. My dad took me to a number of games and it was always a fun time!”
Dani Hellenbrand – Content Strategist
With further proof of the impact of memories on the longevity of promotional products, Dani’s high school softball practice sweatpants have seen better days. Her Verona Wildcat sweatpants were passed down year after year to be used for practice, so many players before her time on the team donned this exact pair. She was lucky enough to get to keep them after her senior year. “They’re too big, they’re holey, and the bottoms of the legs are torn up, but I’ll never be able to let them go!”
So what did we learn from our mini research project? What is it about a promotional product that makes us hold onto it for years, even decades?
Sometimes, it’s because of its utility – it’s something useful to us, like Cassi’s spatula. Sometimes, it’s for sentimental reasons – it serves as a reminder of a positive experience, like Sarah’s college t-shirt. And finally, it has to be quality…otherwise it wouldn’t last very long, like Rachel’s lawn chairs.
Usually, it’s a combination of all of the above.
Either way, we tend to keep things that are valuable to us.
We’d love to hear from you – what’s your oldest promotional item? What made you keep it for so long? We’d love to hear your stories! Comment on our post on LinkedIn or Facebook, or reach out to our Accounts Team directly!