Avoiding swag

Reading an article debating the energy costs of ceramic and disposable cups and mugs, I came to the same conclusion others did: use the mug. The energy input has already been made, most people have a bunch already, plus drinking coffee and tea from a ceramic mug or cup is nicer than drinking from one made of paper.

The mug holding this morning’s tea is about thirteen years old, and is swag — a promotional piece — from my internship church. But apart from the utility of having a mug — and I have others — what good is it for a church to have promotional goods? As it is, most people are pretty good at disregarding advertising, even as cheaply made goods litter our homes and public spaces: I would rather my person and home not be a commercial display piece. Hubby, Mom and I were resolute — perhaps for our own different reasons — in refusing the crap offered us by nearly all Vietnam Veterans Memorial parade sponsors. I weakened when offered a handful of pens, and even these were tossed later. Who makes goods — the caps, posters, “stress balls”, notepads, letter openers, and the like — that are cheap enough to give away in bulk? Don’t expect fair trade (though there are US and union manufacturers, notably for the union swag-giving market) if all the “Made in China” labels are any judge.

The short message: as marketing changes, we can let old marketing necessities drop.

3 Replies to “Avoiding swag”

  1. When I’ve gone to to educational conferences, I’ve noticed that teachers tend to expect the swag as ineffective as it is. And as a former teacher, I totally understand, but….

  2. I have to admit that I take SWAG, particularly pens – some of which are quite nice (these are admittedly better than most free pens). I dont take SWAG that I dont have a use for (like giant clothespins).
    Usually my guilt is more produced by the fact that these “free items” cost consumers – because the company giving them away isnt really giving them away. Somebody is paying for them.
    Of course, part of the reason churches have SWAG (or branded items you pay for) is build a sense of community – and branded items are just easy to do so. I admit that I own a T-shirt and the official bluegrass single CD-r of “Our Home Universalist Unitarian Church”. As a bluegrass fan, how could I resist? and certainly as I wear the shirt, Im reminded of the Church….. (of course if I were local to them that would be more approriate)

  3. I loathe swag. Thanks for validating. I am especially offended by organizations whose services are mediocre but who seem to think that giving me a freebie tote bag at a conference is going to build my member loyalty.

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