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History of Promotional Products and How They Began

The History of Promotional Products Goes Way Back

When you see a branded t-shirt or a pen with a brand’s name on it, you probably don’t think about why they exist or where they came from, but rather the brand itself. This is why promotional products are such an effective marketing tool, and in fact, have been for hundreds of years. The history of promotional products dates almost as far back as the beginning of the United States. Read on to learn more about the history of promotional products and how it got to be the $20 billion a year industry that it is today.

What Was the First Promotional Product?

The first promotional product on record in the United States dates back to 1789, during the election of George Washington. The commemorative buttons that were used during his campaign mark the beginning of promotional products. Washington’s campaign success sparked the use of other promotional items, from almanacs to calendars and wood specialties, such as rulers. While these promotional items existed, it wasn’t until later in the 19th century that people started to catch on to the idea of creating and distributing promotional products.

A Brief History of Promotional Products

The man considered to be the “father of promotional products” was named Jasper Meek, a newspaperman and printer from Ohio. In the late 1800s, Meek started distributing burlap book bags to local schools to promote his newspaper and keep the presses running during slow times. Eventually, this idea of using products to promote businesses took off, and the number of manufacturers of promotional products began to grow.

 

In the early 1900s, representatives from some of the manufacturers came up with the idea to create an industry trade association for promotional products. This would allow them to address various issues, such as pricing, new ideas, business losses and operating procedures. This association was first named the Advertising Manufacturers Association, but today it is known as the Promotional Products Association International (PPAI). Tradeshows become a part of the association’s functions in 1914, which now happens to be the industry’s premier tradeshow event known as the PPAI Expo, held yearly in Las Vegas.

Promotional Products Today

The Great Depression took a toll on the promotional products industry, but by 1947, the industry recorded sales of over $100 million. Today, promotional products are a multi-billion dollar industry and continue to grow. Statistics show that promotional products are one of the most cost-effective options for businesses to promote their brands, with an average cost per impression of $.005. Consumers keep promotional products for an average of six months, the most popular of which are wearables, writing instruments, bags and drinkware.

EmbroidMe Does Justice to the History of Promotional Products

EmbroidMe knows how important promotional products are to the success of businesses, and with almost one million products to choose from, we are sure to have the perfect promotional solutions for virtually any business or organization. Visit our website to find the resource center closest to you, where you can stop in to speak with one of our promotional marketing experts and see samples of many of our high quality products.