Promotional merchandise is also referred to as an item, product or gift. It is at times called a schwag or swag in the marketing world. This are articles of advertisement and are used in communication strategies, marketing programs and advertising campaigns. They are usually give-aways and gifts that are provided for the purposes of promoting a certain company or product, promote an event, brand or corporate image, hence the name promotional.

They often have the logo of the company or a brief slogan or catch phrase and are given away in conferences, trade shows and other events for free. Some may be sold at a competitively low cost. The very first instance of a promotional item was seen in the United States of America. These were commemorative buttons that were given out in the year 1978 during the election of President George Washington. Following this and in later years, other items began to be used as promotional items.

These included calendars, wooden specialties and rulers. During that time, there was no particular industry that organized this activity and anyone would produce any items and print the company’s logo on it and further distribute it themselves. However, in the early 19th century, certain printers and marketing minded individuals began thinking of promotional merchandise as a good opportunity to market their wares.

Henry Beach and Jasper Meeks, in their separate capacities, reviewed the idea with in-depth details and were soon printing and distributing marbles, card cases, aprons, calendars, fans, buggy chips, cloth caps and other items that were then seen as important items. They imprinted their company’s logo on these items and because it was a new concept, many other companies picked up on it and the year 1904, twelve producers of promotional products met to come up with the very first association for the quickly growing industry. The association is the modern day Promotional Products Association International or PPAI.

It currently has a global membership of more than seven thousand five hundred members. PPAI represent more than twenty two distributors and about five thousand manufacturers worldwide. Promotional merchandise step up any promotional strategy that a company engages in because people like free gifts and gifts that will last for a long period of time. This is the reason why these items are a favorite to many clients and marketing managers alike and many people visit events where they can get a free promotional item.