October 11, 2013
During last week’s college and professional football games I couldn’t help but notice the presence of the color pink. It seemed to be everywhere - on uniforms, penalty flags and even on the logos of some of the teams. With October being Breast Cancer Awareness month, I knew what it all stood for, and I began to count my blessings. As a man in my forties, I have every reason to be thankful that this terrible disease known as cancer has had little effect on my friends and family throughout the years. At least, so far.
Then I read the October cover story of Wearables magazine, and I nearly lost it.
About a young college woman named Haley Bellows who, with the help of her friends and a tight-knit campus community, has taken cancer head-on, this is the kind of story that puts everything into perspective. Having a bad day because you forgot your umbrella and your hair got wet? Read about a normal day in Haley’s life and I guarantee your damp locks won’t seem that bad. The story describes in detail what Bellows went through upon being diagnosed, the joy of going into remission only to be squashed by a relapse, and how one T-shirt with the slogan “Eff Cancer” just might save her life.
This is a great read by C.J. Mittica and I recommend it highly. Kudos to Haley … keep fighting, girl! And Eff Cancer!
See a video of Haley shaving her head as a reminder of how awful cancer is. And here are a few images of Haley and her friends.
July 26, 2013
From guest blogger and intern Samantha Phillips …
The things that decorate my tiny cubicle include a few framed photographs, two plastic orchid plants (I would love real flowers but I struggle to keep even myself healthy and thriving), a gnome figurine and a fake autographed photo of Christopher Walken: a gag Christmas gift from a close friend. I questioned every item I brought in to adorn my work space, convinced that they would define me as a person. All it would take was a single troll doll with dirty neon hair and a gem belly button and I’d be haunted by it forever.
Fortunately, my desk accessories (deskessories? Genius!) are mild, even amateur, in comparison to the oddities that dress the desks of some of my co-workers. As MVP’s of an industry that thrives on wacky products, ASI employees often receive free promotional items that are … shall we say … unique? Do you need a Gangnam Style figurine that doubles as a flash drive? No. But it makes one hell of a conversation starter. I decided to conduct an in-depth investigation, and expose the dirty truth about ASI’s desk decorations. Thus, here they are!: a few of my favorite ASI deskessories in no particular order:
MR. T BOBBLEHEAD DOLL
Online editor Vinny Driscoll works tirelessly to upkeep our social media presence while his Mr. T bobblehead watches from atop the cubicle wall, nodding eternally in agreement. “#pitythefool!” cries the tiny intimidating figurine.
MCDONALD’S FRENCH FRY GOLF CLUB COVER
Copy writer Chuck Zak is pictured here with his McDonald’s French fry golf club head cover. Does Chuck Zak play golf? No. Why does Chuck Zak have a fast food inspired golf club head cover? It is one of the many mysteries that lie within those cubicle walls. Legend has it the fries are a device he uses to communicate with the editorial gods. Of course, no one can ever know for sure. You see that perfectly trimmed beard? It’s full of secrets.
While Patty Cangelosi slaves over the pages of copy she edits daily, she is surrounded by an array of odd items including giant highlighters and magnets shaped like slices of pizza. But perhaps the strangest of all her deskessories is the photo drink coaster pictured here, a sample gift from one of ASI’s suppliers. Why is this the top of the wacky food chain, you ask? Because Patty has no idea who those people are.
Managing editor Joe Haley’s office is a mecca of promotional oddities. It’s got everything you can dream up…a plastic pig that shoots pong balls out of its mouth, a trail hitch ball cover shaped like Barak Obama’s head, a plastic shot glass that includes a turning mechanism which allows for no-mess jello shots, an electric guitar branded with the “Joe Show” logo … I could go on. Joe is pictured here with one of his most precious office accessories: a caped monkey that doubles as a slingshot. Don’t make him angry; his office is an arsenal of weaponry that might not injure, but has the power to severely annoy.
C.J. Mittica, editor of Wearables magazine, proudly shows off the miniature bale of cotton that he acquired while conducting story research in Texas. A normal bale of cotton weighs approximately 500 pounds and holds enough cotton to make 325 pairs of denim jeans. After completing a few Good-Will-Hunting-esque mathematical equations (who am I kidding, I majored in English), I concluded that this bale holds enough cotton to make at least three denim bowties for Canadian tuxedoes.
Michele Bell is the editor of Supplier Global Resource magazine and people cannot keep their hands off of her deskessories. This silver twisty-thingy (excuse my use of industry jargon) is a favorite among her visitors. It reminds me of a hitchhiker outside of a Phish concert: it could possibly strangle you, and it is always picked up.
BOWLING PIN WATER BOTTLE
And ah, of course, the infamous bowling pin water bottle: the wild card that blew this investigation wide open. It requires no lavish witticisms to introduce it. It is the answer to possibly the most important scientific question of all time: how do you combine America’s favorite sport (besides competitive chess of course) and hydration? It is the product of years of struggle for researchers who were hungry to create something incredibly subtle and yet still so majestic. Its owner requested to remain anonymous in this investigation report, as to avoid torment from the paparazzi and constant media attention. “Yes I have a bowling pin water bottle,” she says, “But I just want to live a normal life!”
Well, that concludes this episode of “An Intern Rants about Nothing of Importance.” Tune in next week, when I will rate the office toilets in descending order based on comfort level, timing of the automatic flush, and amount of creativity used in stall door graffiti.
…That’s a joke people. C’mon, did you really think I have the seniority and power to make those kinds of judgments? I’m just an intern for Crissakes.
March 14, 2013
Grumpy Cat, the new Internet sensation that’s sweeping the globe faster than the Harlem Shake, is currently killing it as the star attraction at the annual South by Southwest Conference and Festival (SXSW) in Austin, TX. Interviews with His Grumpiness are hard to come by these days, but I recently had a chance to sit down with the legend — also known by his real name “Tard”, short for “Tardar Sauce” — to ask him a few questions. The following is the transcript of our conversation.
Team Blog: So Grumpy Cat, let’s start with an obvious question: Why are you so grumpy?
Team Blog: OK … coulda fooled me. Anyway, onto the next question. I work in the promotional products industry, or ad specialties, you know, products with logos that promote a company, product or service. Like T-shirts, pens and mugs. Got any favorite promotional products?
Team Blog: Alrighty then, appreciate the honesty. Now that you’re a big Internet sensation, inspiring thousands of grumpy memes and rubbing elbows with celebrities, you must have some good stories, right?
Team Blog: I’ve been called worse. But anyway, there must be things you like, right? Got any favorite movies?
Team Blog: Awesome! Well, that’s a start. Whaddya think about the new Star Wars Episode 7 currently in pre-production. Are you psyched?
Team Blog: Well, that makes one of us.
Team Blog: OK, I guess we should end here before your claws start doing the talking and I end up with cat-scratch fever or something, ha ha!
Team Blog: That was a joke … a bad one … sorry. Please don’t hurt me.
March 5, 2013
I’m not much of a book reader outside the occasional novel about serial killers (don’t judge). But when I found out Advantages magazine was reaching out to industry people for titles that not only motivated them, but inspired sales, I surely was curious.
From the popular (The Biography of Steve Jobs) to the unusual (Who Moved My Cheese?), this article titled “Book It! 10 Title to Inspire Your Sales” is loaded with great tips and advice on how to find motivation when you need it. Read this article now, and in the meantime, here are the 10 titles chosen:
February 13, 2013
Queue Barry White’s Greatest Hits and get the wine chillin’ … it’s that time of year again, when lovers young and old exchange heart-shaped Hallmark greetings, drop ridiculous dough on fancy restaurants, and overdose on chocolate. Yep, Valentine’s Day 2013 promises to be all that and more for those of us with significant others. (For those of us without, like yours truly, there’s always a hockey game on and cold beer in the fridge.)
And in keeping with his annual tradition, Joe Haley of The Joe Show fame presents his top sexy promotional products of the year. Watch this year’s video here, and in the meantime here is the list of the 6 Sexy Products for Valentine’s Day:
July 17, 2012
Nicole – fitness and dance enthusiast here. So, after a bass-heavy impassioned flurry of club music that had attendees grooving together in groups of three and five, even on top of chairs with arms in the air after an emotional level, Tony Robbins took things back down a notch to talk about how to succeed in an area attendees want to improve.
“What’s an area you feel really strongly about?” Robbins asked the crowd. “Say, ‘I’m a master of whatever it is’ – that’s where your focus goes, and the energy flows.” The point is that if you’re masterful or successful in one area, you’ve got all three “pillars of success” in place. If there’s an area you’re not successful, you’re probably missing at least one or two of Robbins’ pillars.
Time to drill down. Robbins explained the first pillar: First, get laser-focused on that area – name it, be clear about what you want, and define compelling reasons for wanting to achieve it. With his typical bombast, Robbins, yelled, “If you want to lose 25 pounds, say why you want to do it – you want to rip off your shirt and say, ‘Look at me!’
Next, after you really know what you want and are motivated to go after it, get the best strategies, mentor, tools, map, coaching, to achieve the results you want. “I wanted more energy at one point, so I found like the greatest amateur athlete, this guy who ran 1,000 miles in 11 days,” said Robbins, who says that his “guru” learned how to do this from a South American Indian tribe that as a group annually runs 76 miles in a day. “So, he taught me the strategies. I got a play by play what he did, and I got more energy. In the area you want to improve you haven’t found the cutting edge. You need to go make that your drive.”
Finally, kick yourself into action. “Unlock and unleash. Take massive action. Achieve, succeed, contribute and celebrate,” said Robbins, who said that here you might start feeling conflicts like, “I want to make everyone happy but I want to always tell the truth.” How do you solve this conflict? “You’ll keep taking steps back or you’ll just give up,” he said. Robbins said to resolve these conflicts, you need to put yourself into a better state, which is a theme he’s been driving home all day – that is, remember what your mental and physical states were when you succeeded in a truly spectacular way.
“Look, what it comes down to a lot of the time is accepting what you’re afraid of,” Robbins said. “Courage is when you’re scared shitless and you do something anyway.”
July 17, 2012
Michele here, appropriately covering the portion of Tony Robbins’ presentation that has to do with getting past negativity and self-sabotage. I get it because my default attitude is snark, misanthropy and nihilism. According to Robbins, people like me have “life conditions that do not match their blueprint.” Meaning, one’s life’s conditions are not aligned with their expectations. Bring on the karmic cleanse and attitude adjustment, Mr. Robbins!
One attendee bravely stood and announced to the crowd of hundreds, at Robbins’ urging, where her main pain point resides:
“I’m unhappy with my weight,” she said.
“Why?,” Robbins asked.
“Because I’m fat,” she said matter of factly and to the howls and applause of the audience.
Robbins maintains that progress in life is the key to happiness and that we “grow or die.” “You need to change the filter of your life and your perspective from what’s missing in your life and focus on what you have.”
Pain, Robbins says, provides three choices:
“Sometimes not getting what you want is how the universe makes things work out,” Robbins says. “Without making mistakes, there’s no growth.” (Side note: It’s amusing, incidentally, that Tony Robbins is not unfamiliar with “working blue,” and peppers his speech with colorful cursing akin to a sailor on shore leave… He’s sassy!)
Learned helplessness breeds the “Three Ps,” Robbins noted: “If your problem involves Permanence, Pervasiveness and is Personal it can be difficult, but it’s not insurmountable. Changing situations and story telling alters your life condition and things will improve.”
Robbins also said that if one wants freedom in their life, they should expand their blueprint. “You can’t control relationships, but you can alter your blueprint” and manage expectations.
And as I’m ready to sign off and turn over the blog for the next hour to my colleague Nicole Rollender, Tony Robbins – who always seems a little too “evangelical” and rah-rah – won me over with this missive: “Are you unhappy in life? Get over it, dipshit.” Rock on, you crazy giant.
March 9, 2012
With its “Look Book” feature, each issue of Stitches magazine goes in search of the latest in fashion finds from the runway. Billed as a “guide to what’s hot and new,” today’s “Look book” fashion finds could be tomorrow’s hot promotional apparel trend. Don’t miss this month’s edition: New York Fashion Week, written by Julie A. Cajigas.
And here are some fashions items from this month. Enjoy!
Let’s get lacey. Oscar De La Renta combines detail with drama to achieve this high-voltage runway gown. The bodice, neckline and straps feature a delicate black lace, bringing attention to the model’s shoulders and face. Choose lace, crochet and other intricate fabrics to take outfits and accessories to the next level.
Walking down the A Detacher runway at Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week, this look confirms that polka dots are once again hot. Polka dots might remind you of childhood fashion (or perhaps ’80s fashion), but when used in the right color palette, or in moderation, polka dots can add a lovely femininity to any ensemble. Choose polka dots to adorn an accessory, layer with solids and spice up basic black. Polka dots don’t always have to be the star of the show. They make a wonderful peek-out lining for jackets and bags alike.
COLOR OF THE YEAR
Pantone has named tangerine as 2012’s hot color — and the 2012 runways are full of this juicy shade. Here, Sherri Hill paired tangerine with a cool sherbet orange in this stunning gown. “Tangerine is a new, different, refreshing color,” says Susan Gagainis, brand consultant for Geiger (asi/202900). “And, men can easily wear tangerine, too.”
On the runway, tangerine is often selected as an allover garment color, but can also be paired with other shades. “The color looks great with other shades,” Gagainis says. “Head to the opposite side of the color wheel and consider blues, teals, greens, browns and reds as complementary colors.” When decorating tangerine garments, choose a color that stands out and stands up to this bright, bold color.
Couture and retail looks were shining and shimmering their way down the Mercedes-Benz runway in preparation for a glowing spring/summer 2012 fashion season. The look? Fabrics that shimmer and glimmer. “Shiny fabrics are great for spring and summer because they are soft, feminine and fluid,” says Jennifer Tsai, vice president of operations and Lilac Bloom designer for Tri-Mountain (asi/92125). “As the weather warms up, women can ditch the chunky knits of winter and slip into slinkier fabrics and more flattering silhouettes.” Seen here on the Ralph Lauren runway, these glowing garments are appearing in various metallic shades along with blush pink and pastel green.
Spring showers will bring summer flowers – and a bevy of runway-ready rain gear, including this gorgeous jewel-tone jacket from the Irina Shabayeva spring 2012 show. Outerwear always has a high perceived value, making it a great gift, giveaway or incentive – and outerwear is never more important than on a cool, rainy day. In addition to leveraging the trend by providing a fashion-forward raincoat, decorators can put clients’ marks on a unique umbrella or even provide a printed plastic poncho for their outdoor events.
January 11, 2012
I guess the old saying “Everything Old Is New Again” really is true, especially when dealing with promotional apparel. In fact, this month’s Counselor magazine has an article titled exactly that, with seven examples of iconic images from yesteryear tied back to some current fashion trends. For example, remember:
Well, of course you do! And yes, they’re all coming back into fashion again! Read this article to find out more, and don’t be afraid to hold onto those parachute pants a little longer!
April 28, 2011
From Counselor Senior Writer Dave Vagnoni, our guest blogger who’s reporting from the land of China …
On an especially hazy day here in Hong Kong, I had breakfast with Danielle and Randee from Dard, along with Ross Beaton of Australia’s Logo-Line. Ross, who’s a former Counselor International Person of the Year, has been trying for days to get me to eat how the locals do (that means eating fish that stare back at you). He’s also been pushing Peking Duck, which is not on my top 10,000 list of things to eat. Sorry, Ross.
As a compromise, I did decide to take baby steps toward enjoying Far East cuisine by sampling authentic Chinese noodles this morning. Now, in America, a similar noodle dish would come with broth and maybe mushrooms. Real Chinese noodles, though, can come with exciting additions like fish balls. I opted for spinach noodles in a broth with some unpronounceable green vegetables, a bit of pork (I think) and, yes, a few of the aforementioned fish balls. While it was, I admit, a tasty dish, I’m still craving Italian food. A burrito doesn’t sound bad either.
After breakfast, I went to a press conference hosted by Jeffrey Lam, the chairman of the Hong Kong Gift Show organizing committee. He had some interesting things to say about pricing, labor and exporting – both in his general remarks and to me in our sit-down interview. He told the audience – a group of about 20 members of the international press – that he expects labor costs in China to increase 10%-15% every year for the near future. He admitted manufacturers in China face serious challenges related to inflation and the rising costs of raw materials.
He also said he anticipates the U.S. dollar will remain unstable and may even “tumble” in years to come, while Chinese currency will hold its value, he believes. Here’s part of my Q&A with Lam from this morning. There will be more to come from this interview online and in Counselor magazine.
Q: How can companies really know that products manufactured in China are safe and compliant?
A: Hong Kong has a very mature testing industry. The international companies are here and the labs are here. They are here to help the industry test their products. All the manufacturers do test their raw materials and also the finished product before shipping. I’m sure they can provide the buyers with the certificate about the safety aspect of the product. You know, this is something that the buyer should ask for and the supplier should supply to buyers. Hong Kong, like the toy industry, works very closely with the U.S. importers and U.S. toy companies on certain safety standards. I know all the toy products made here comply with the U.S. and international regulations.
Besides talking with Lam, I also had the chance to meet with several other show suppliers – some from the industry and some that aren’t. One company I spoke to manufactures those really elegant greeting cards sold in the U.S. by retailer Papyrus. Another company supplies housewares and gift items to Pier One and Bed, Bath & Beyond. A third supplier – from Japan – showed me a bunch of relief-from-the-heat novelties that he hopes to soon introduce to companies in North America. The items were pretty clever and have promotional potential. If you want more details, shoot me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Following the press event, I spent a very educational hour with Jeff Lederer from Prime Line. As he met with a factory contact, I watched him literally take a pitched product and create a design for a new, multi-use pen that I think is really going to do well in the industry. Jeff is also extremely knowledgeable about compliance issues. Our conversation will be part of the video I’m putting together, plus the feature I’ll be writing for Counselor.
As I was walking the streets of Hong Kong today, I realized my time in China is passing quickly. With fondness, I thought I’d type out a few things about China that I’ve found particularly odd, humorous or just plain surprising. Here goes.
OK, back to my trip. Tomorrow, after some early meetings with industry folks, I’ll be headed to Victoria Peak and, if all goes according to plan, I’ll close my Friday with a trip to the night market. Anybody have souvenir requests?