What Are Promotional Products


Promotional products are tangible symbols. They are usually imprinted with a company's name, logo or message, and include useful or decorative articles of merchandise that are utilized in marketing and communication programs. They include ad specialties, business gifts, premiums, other identification applications, and recognition awards. When promotional products are distributed free, they're referred to as advertising specialties. When the items are given in exchange for a purchase, deposit or financial contribution, they're called premiums. Other kinds of promotional products are business gifts, awards and commemoratives.


Ad Specialties

Ad specialties have these key elements:


  • An advertising or promotional message
  • Placed on (or with) a useful item
  • Given with no obligation


Take a look around your office. There's a good chance you'll find a wall or desk calendar; perhaps a coffee mug, a colorful mouse pad, a pen or a plaque that heralds your accomplishments.


What about in your pocket or purse? Do you have an imprinted pen, key tag, pocket calendar, miniature flashlight, or nail file? What about your car? Is there a bumper sticker on your car, dealer decal or license plate frame?


All of these items are examples of ad specialties if you were given them without obligation. Top


Business Gifts

Nearly half of corporate America gives business gifts. They are typically given by businesses to customers and employees, and occasionally are given to influential clients and suppliers.

Gift-giving reasons cited by companies are:


  • To Thank Customers (83 %)
  • To Develop Business (56 %)
  • To Recognize Employee
  • Performance And Longevity (25 %)
  • Customers Expect Them (10 %)
  • Other (3 %)


Of those giving business gifts, 68 percent find the practice very effective or effective in achieving desired objectives and approximately 60 percent of business gifts are purchased through promotional products distributors.  Top


Other Identification Applications


This catch-all category includes products used to symbolize organization membership, such as embroidered patches, plaques, jackets and caps; imprinted souvenirs, such as purchasable key tags, caps and glassware from tourist attractions; and promotional inflatables and balloons that serve as attention-getters at promotional events. These product examples are all promotional in nature, but don't fit neatly into the other categories. Top




Give a useful item with some strings attached (example, buy this soap and get a free towel) and the item becomes a premium. A promotional product is considered a premium when it is offered as an incentive to produce a specific action.

While generally advertising specialties are imprinted and premiums are not, the only real distinction between an ad specialty item and a premium item is whether or not it is given with past, present, or future obligation. Top


Recognition Awards


Plaques, service pins, trophies, award jewelry and other gifts that signify performance or honors can be categorized as recognition awards. When these awards are used as incentives, such as in sales contests, they are technically premiums.


With recognition awards, the recognition is more important than the item itself. Yet it is the item which remains to symbolize and stimulate recall. Such awards, therefore, become vehicles for re-experiencing recognition events.     Top