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  • August 25, 2021 6:24 AM | Dara Cormany (Administrator)

    After more than a year of virtual events and networking behind a computer screen, in-person trade shows are continuing to make a strong comeback this summer, and the promo industry has fully welcomed their return. On August 5-6, Specialty Advertising Association of California (SAAC) returned to in-person trade shows with the SAAC Expo 2021 at the Anaheim Convention Center in Anaheim, California. The event drew distributors from across the region to connect with peers, introduce their clients to the latest and greatest promotional products and be inspired about what’s to come.

    “It felt great to be at SAAC Expo,” says Stephen Ropfogel, MAS, SAAC’s 2021 board president. “While the show was not the largest in SAAC history, we had about an eight-to-one distributor/supplier ratio, which gave us time to stop and discuss projects and products. The best part of SAAC Expo for me has always been reconnecting with old friends and making new ones. We are a relationship industry and the best way to build on our relationships and start new ones is in person at Expo.”

    Alan Peterson, SAAC interim executive director, adds, “On behalf of the SAAC board, I’d first like to thank everyone who made SAAC Expo 2021 the resurgence of expos and promotional products sales in the Southern California region. It was the first trade show hosted by the Anaheim Convention Center since Spring 2020 and, by all accounts, for both attendees and exhibitors, was a resounding success.”

    During SAAC Expo’s two-day run, attendees met with exhibitors, joined a keynote presentation on the state of the industry given by Peterson and Ellen Tucker, CAE, PPAI director of business development and expositions, and sat in on the show’s “Insight On A Buyer’s Perspective” session, a panel discussion with distributors and end users. On the show’s second day, distributors accompanied their clients on the trade-show floor to give them a closer look at what exhibitors had to offer.

    Ropfogel adds, “While we did not have as many buyers attend as I had hoped, it is a good start. What a great way to educate your customers on all that we can do for them. We have all walked into a client’s office only to see a promotional product that they did not buy from us, and to have them say, ‘I did not know you sold coffee mugs, magnets or …’ you fill in the blank.”

    Mindful of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, SAAC Expo organizers took extra precautions to make the event as safe as possible.

    Peterson adds, “We kept health and safety at the forefront of the event. Though not required by the county or convention center, we made sure to have PPE readily available and kept an eye out for any changes to recommended guidelines.”

    The promotional products industry’s calendar has been full of regional trade shows and events since earlier this spring and at least 20 more in-person regional shows are planned through end of October.

    Used with permission from PPAI Media

  • July 14, 2021 5:53 AM | Dara Cormany (Administrator)

    The U.S. jobs outlook continued to improve in June, with The Conference Board’s Employment Trends Index following May’s growth with further increases. The Index reached 109.84 in June, up from 107.7 the previous month, and is now up 28.2 percent year-over-year compared to June 2020.

    The Employment Trends Index is a composite index for employment. Changes in the index indicate that a turning point in the number of jobs is about to occur in the coming months. It aggregates eight leading indicators of employment, each of which has proven accurate in its own area. The Conference Board notes that aggregating individual indicators into a composite index filters out “noise” to show underlying trends more clearly.

    The June increase in the Index came as the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported another significant month of growth. Total nonfarm payroll employment rose by 850,000 in June, with the unemployment rate slightly changed at 5.9 percent. It says that notable job gains occurred in leisure and hospitality, public and private education, professional and business services, retail trade and other services.

    “The very rapid improvement in the Employment Trends Index in June suggests that strong job growth will continue through the summer,” says Gad Levanon, head of The Conference Board Labor Markets Institute. “In the coming months, the U.S. labor market is likely to remain very tight. Recruiting and retention will remain extremely difficult, and wage growth will remain very high. Toward the end of 2021, labor shortages are likely to moderate as some of the labor supply constraints ease. But as the number of jobs in the U.S. economy continue to grow at an historically high rate, unemployment may again dip below four percent within the next 12 months. A tight labor market is likely to be the new normal until the next recession.”

    The tight labor market is being felt across the business landscape, including in the promotional product industry. Tom Goos, MAS, president of Kirkland, Washington-based distributor Image Source, says, “It is tight. We have four open positions currently and are having a much harder time attracting talent. Overall, the number of resumes we have received is down 50 percent from our normal number. Washington State just recently started requiring people who are out of work and receiving unemployment benefits to show proof they are actively looking for job opportunities. The second half of the year will be busy, and we are hoping to staff up to meet client needs.”

    Tamara Borello, MAS, chief operations officer at distributor EPromos Promotional Products in St. Cloud, Minnesota, adds, “The mid-high-level positions are easier to fill, but more competitive now. The entry-level and more administrative roles are challenging as people are not as willing to make a change as easily. Conversely, those in current management roles seem to be curious as to what other positions and alternatives may exist. Remote is absolutely preferred over mandatory in-office position requirements.”

    Kevin Nord, president of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania-based Pro Towels, says, "The labor market is very tight and we are constantly looking at new ways to think out of the box to engage potential employees. There are challenges that fortunately we have been able to overcome with our leadership team."

    Used with permission from PPAI

  • July 14, 2021 5:52 AM | Dara Cormany (Administrator)

    You might want to consider a Plan B that relies less on imported product.

    6/28/2021 | Jeff Jacobs, The Brand Protector

    Like taking a hammer to an already fragile supply chain, recent COVID-19 spikes in Chinese ports may already be threatening your clients’ promotional holiday plans. You likely have already felt the pain of product delays or complete lack of availability due to the pandemic. But now, congestion at container shipping ports in southern China is making things worse as authorities step up disinfection measures due to a flare-up in COVID-19 cases. The shipping backlog right now is the largest since 2019.

    Since the end of May, more than 150 coronavirus cases have been reported in Guangdong province, a key manufacturing and exporting hub in southern China. That has triggered local governments to step up prevention and control efforts and have slowed port processing capacity. Ports in Guangdong, including Yantian, Shekou, Chiwan and Nansha have issued notices in the last two weeks suspending vessels from entering ports without advance reservations. Bookings for export-bound containers will only be accepted within three to seven days prior to the arrival of vessels. Major shipping companies have warned clients of vessel delays, changes to port call schedules, and the possibility of skipping some ports altogether.

    Yantian port was originally supposed to be back running at full capacity in just a few days after the outbreak was announced, and now it’s supposed to be open by the end of the month. Just as it took several weeks for shipping schedules and supply chains to recover from the vessel blocking the Suez Canal in March, it may take months for the cargo backlog in southern China to clear while the fallout ripples to ports worldwide.

    A.P. Moller-Maersk A/S, the world’s No. 1 container carrier, released a statement saying, in part, “The trend is worrying, and unceasing congestion is becoming a global problem.” The global shipping industry is already hamstrung by the pandemic hangover that adds inflation pressures and delivery delays. Now there’s an even bigger obstacle.

    The situation in South China is another “in a string of disasters we’ve seen plague the global supply chain,” according to Nerijus Poskus, vice president of ocean strategy and carrier development for Flexport Inc., which makes software that helps companies manage their supply chains. He estimated the congestion in Yantian will take six to eight weeks to clear.

    So, what does all this mean to you? To your sales and marketing efforts, the new timetable is a problem because it extends disruptions to the late-summer period of peak demand from the U.S. and Europe. Both the retail market and your suppliers/importers would normally be building inventory in warehouses ahead of the year-end holiday shopping and recognition sales rush.

    Usually cheap and nearly invisible to both distributors and consumers, ocean freight is now more expensive than ever. It has become double trouble for the world economy, acting as both a drag on commerce and a potential accelerant for inflation. Just last week, U.S. Federal Reserve policy makers raised inflation forecasts in part because of the shipping bottlenecks that have formed, and as supply fails to keep pace with demand. That’s where it could even get into your personal pocketbook.

    Even without the Suez blockage or port backlogs, the global transportation system would probably still be struggling with maxed-out capacity. Exports from China and other Asian nations are at record highs, as U.S. and European economies reopen and other markets such as India buy medical goods to help with their ongoing outbreaks.

    “There are still a number of problem spots that will pose challenges to global trade and logistics activities in the second half of 2021,” says Nick Marro, lead analyst for global trade at the Economist Intelligence Unit in Hong Kong. “The biggest risk will be recurring Covid-19 outbreaks, which we can probably see as inevitable owing to the new variants, but this will also include mismatched supply and demand for container space and existing logistical bottlenecks in major Western ports.”

    You may have already been planning ahead for the fourth quarter with the anticipation of a constrained supply chain. It might not be a bad idea to check to see if that plan still holds up, or it’s time to make a Plan B that relies less on imported product.

    Jeff Jacobs has been an expert in building brands and brand stewardship for 40 years, working in commercial television, Hollywood film and home video, publishing, and promotional brand merchandise. He’s a staunch advocate of consumer product safety and has a deep passion and belief regarding the issues surrounding compliance and corporate social responsibility. He retired as executive director of Quality Certification Alliance, the only non-profit dedicated to helping suppliers provide safe and compliant promotional products. Before that, he was director of brand merchandise for Michelin. Connect with Jeff on Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram, or read his latest musings on food, travel and social media on his personal blog jeffreypjacobs.com. Email jacobs.jeffreyp@gmail.com.

  • July 12, 2021 5:36 PM | Dara Cormany (Administrator)

    By the end of this year, just over half (51 percent) of knowledge workers—i.e., those who are involved in knowledge-intensive occupations, such as writers, accountants or engineers—are expected to be working remotely. This projection from Gartner represents an upward shift from the 27 percent of knowledge workers working remotely in 2019.

    Gartner also estimates that remote workers—employees working away from their company, government or customer site at least one full day per week or who work fully from home—will represent 32 percent of all employees worldwide by the end of 2021. This is up from 17 percent of employees in 2019.

    “A hybrid workforce is the future of work, with both remote and on-site part of the same solution to optimize employers’ workforce needs,” says Ranjit Atwal, senior research director at Gartner.

    Remote working varies considerably around the world depending on IT adoption, culture and mix of industries. In 2022, 31 percent of all workers worldwide will be remote—a mix of hybrid and fully remote. The U.S. will lead in terms of remote workers in 2022, accounting for 53 percent of the U.S. workforce. Across Europe, U.K. remote workers will represent 52 percent of its workforce in 2022, while remote workers in Germany and France will account for 37 percent and 33 percent, respectively.

    Gartner notes that India and China will produce some of the largest numbers of remote workers, but their overall penetration rates will remain relatively low with 30 percent of workers in India being remote and 28 percent of workers in China working remote.

    The lasting impact of remote work is resulting in a reassessment of the IT infrastructure that shifts buyer requirements to demand work-anywhere capabilities. Atwal says, “Through 2024, organizations will be forced to bring forward digital business transformation plans by at least five years. Those plans will have to adapt to a post-COVID-19 world that involves permanently higher adoption of remote work and digital touchpoints.”

    A hybrid workforce will continue to increase the demand for PCs and tablets. In 2021, PC and tablet shipments will exceed 500 million units for the first time in history, highlighting the demand across both business and consumer markets. Organizations also deployed cloud services to quickly enable remote workers. Gartner forecasts worldwide end-user spending on public cloud services will grow 23.1 percent in 2021 as CIOs and IT leaders continue to prioritize cloud-delivered applications.

    Used with permission from PPAI

  • July 12, 2021 5:20 PM | Dara Cormany (Administrator)

    Sales leaders should be adaptable. Different circumstances call for different leadership styles. Some situations may call for quick action while others require more contemplative planning. Additionally, not all sales reps respond to the same kind of leadership approach. Highly skilled, experienced employees may need something totally different than sales reps who are brand new to the field.

    Fortunately, you can adapt your leadership style for the sales rep or the situation at hand, says Ben Brearley, the founder of Thoughtful Leader. In this issue of Promotional Consultant Today, we discuss Brearley’s thoughts on three basic leadership styles and when to use them.

    Style No. 1: Directive leadership. This leadership style involves assigning projects and directing employees what to do. Brearley sometimes calls it “old-school leadership” because most workplaces favor more collaborative leadership styles today. In the past, employees simply did what they were told and didn’t raise any questions.

    When to use it: Directive leadership still has its place, according to Brearley, especially in time-sensitive situations. When a decision must be made swiftly or a pressing issue needs to be resolved, directive leadership is often the best way to proceed. It’s quick and simple, he says.

    Style No. 2: Inclusive leadership. Unlike directive leadership, where you delegate and assign specific tasks, inclusive leadership involves asking for input. In your planning and decision-making, you take time to gather feedback from your sales reps and involve then in the process.

    When to use it: Brearley says inclusive leadership is valuable when you are working with an experienced and knowledgeable group. By requesting their feedback and insight, you can often improve a situation’s outcome. This leadership style is also helpful when you are not clear which direction you should take. By asking your team members for their thoughts and conversing with them, you can get a gauge on what they are thinking. When you want to motivate your sales team and show that you care about their opinions, tap into this leadership style.

    Style No. 3: Coaching leadership. With directive leadership, you tell people what to do. With coaching leadership, you provide the support and assistance to help your employees solve their own problems, says Brearley. This style promotes growth and development. Consider asking different kinds of prompting questions that encourage your sales reps to think about their work differently. The idea is not to do the work for someone, but to guide them to reach a desired outcome on their own.

    When to use it: A coaching leadership style is best when you have time to help train your sales reps. If you are fighting fires or under tight deadlines, it might not work so well. Keep in mind that this leadership style only works when sales reps want to learn. Otherwise, bosses and employees will only become frustrated.

    As a leader, you have the responsibility to adjust your leadership style to fit the occasion. Sometimes, your sales reps need quick and clear guidance. Other times they may benefit by being involved in big decisions. And sometimes one-on-one coaching is the best approach. Try different approaches and let go of what doesn’t work. When you approach leadership with a flexible mindset, your entire team will benefit.

    Source: Ben Brearley is the founder of Thoughtful Leader and is an experienced leader, AIPC and PRINT® certified coach and MBA passionate about developing thoughtful and effective leaders.

    Used with permission from PPAI

  • July 12, 2021 5:19 PM | Dara Cormany (Administrator)

    Our industry is a three-legged stool. Each leg has interdependence on the other. When one leg doesn’t bear its weight, has a wobbly performance, the others feel it and the whole thing gets a little shaky.

    Our three legs - Supplier - Distributor - Client - work together so well much of the time when each is at full strength. Partnerships develop when each leg decides to trust each other. It requires that we assume positive intent. 

    The success of each leg is dependent upon the success of the others. A distributor needs successful suppliers and has a vested interest in the ongoing success of their clients. 

    To ensure their own growth and strength, it is incumbent for suppliers to build strong distributor relationships. Even though they are connected through the distributor network, suppliers must have products — as well as ideas and services that facilitate end user success. Supplier performance has a direct impact on end user perception of the industry and their decisions on where to spend their marketing dollars. 

    Clients are also stronger when they nurture and build their distributor partnerships. Even though their connection to the supplier leg is through their distributor, trust strengthens the stool. We’ve seen this work in the growth of end user shows. When I was a distributor, I had clients who developed brand preferences for some of the suppliers and supplier reps with whom I partnered. 

    Each leg is an expert in areas and can provide services with degrees of proficiency, efficiency and value that the others cannot touch. Suppliers are the experts on trend-watching, importing, warehousing, decorating, and logistics. End users know their industries, markets, strategies, objectives, plans and vision. It is the distributors’ role to connect these to create valuable solutions to the problems of the marketplace. They must create sensible solutions that reach the right markets, at the right time at the right price.

    So it does none of the legs any service to knock or weaken the other. We are in a unique imperfect storm that is disrupting all three legs in different ways. A worldwide pandemic has recked havoc on supply lines, transportation and labor forces. As the pandemic subsides, pent-up demand and a rush for new events has overwhelmed systems in multiple industries including our own. 

    It is as important to you to strengthen the other two legs as it is to keep your own organization healthy.

    Each of us need to treat each other with grace and understanding and recommit ourselves to being our best in these difficult and challenging times.

    Paul Kiewiet MAS+ is an industry speaker, writer, consultant and coach. He serves as the executive director of MiPPA. Kiewiet was inducted into the PPAI Hall of Fame and the MiPPA Hall of Fame. He served as Chairman of PPAI in 2007. A former distributor, he founded Promotion Concepts, Inc in 1982 and worked with some of America’s most valuable brands including Coca-Cola, Kelloggs, and Whirlpool.

    Used with permission from PromoCorner

  • July 12, 2021 5:18 PM | Dara Cormany (Administrator)

    “Mindfulness” has become an increasingly popular buzzword over the past year, with workers suffering from pandemic-related burnout and record high stress levels. But what does it really mean?

    Mindful.org defines mindfulness as the basic human ability to be fully present, aware of where we are and what we’re doing, and not overly reactive or overwhelmed by what’s happening around us. Sounds nice, right? Practicing mindfulness can help you stay focused, flexible, and think in a healthier and less stressful way, which helps to make your life at work easier to handle.

    Every person already has the ability to be mindful – you just have to learn how. Here are a few of our tips for increasing your mindfulness at work:

    Be Present

    Mindfulness is all about being present in the moment instead of operating on autopilot. When you’re consciously present at work, you can give your full attention to the task you’re working on, which helps improve your quality of work and makes it easier to stay on track. But a wandering mind is normal and natural, so when your thoughts start to shift to wondering what’s for lunch or considering the latest office gossip, what are you to do?

    When you catch yourself beginning to lose focus, it’s important to acknowledge those thoughts instead of just trying to shake them out of your head. Recognize your thoughts and emotions, and then bring your attention back to the task at hand. I know, I know… easier said than done. But mindfulness doesn’t mean you have to be perfect 100% of the time – you just have to try to stay aware of what you’re doing and what you’re feeling.

    Slow Down

    The humble king of taking it slow: the tortoise.

    Slowing down and taking the time to give your feelings and thoughts space might seem counterintuitive to working well. However, relaxing a bit can make you happier, healthier, and more resilient, making you more efficient and productive.

    Anyone who’s ever tried to complete a last-minute project in a panicked rush knows how much your work can suffer when you try to get things done in that state. It’s just not good for you! Even though it might seem a little backward, slowing down a bit to refocus can put you in a mindset that allows for sound decision-making and action-taking.

    Set Reminders

    This is probably not the first blog or article you’ve read about mindfulness, and you might even already be aware of all the benefits that practicing mindfulness can offer. However, if you’re not actively remembering to be mindful, even if you already know all there is to know about mindfulness, you’re missing out!

    This might be the best tip out there for solid mindfulness practice: set yourself a reminder. Choose a time of day to set aside and give yourself a few minutes (even just 5 minutes can make a huge difference in your day!) to step back and refocus on your surroundings, your emotions, and your state of being. Take a few deep breaths and reflect, and we promise you’ll feel ready to get back to your work with a clear head.

    Practice Gratitude

    Have you ever heard that people are far more likely to leave a review online when they’ve had a negative experience than when they had a great one? This is called a negativity bias. We’re more likely to remember and dwell on things that went poorly than the good things in our lives. Practicing gratitude as a part of your mindfulness is a great way to combat this.

    Writing down a few things you’re grateful for each day is a simple way to practice mindfulness.

    There are so many things to be grateful for in a typical day, and taking the time to identify the little things that you have to be thankful for can help you focus on the good in your life, even when things get tough.

    Mindfulness isn’t all closed eyes, crossed legs, and “ohmmmm”s. You don’t even have to meditate to be mindful! Taking just a few minutes each day to refocus on your intentions, thoughts, and surroundings and practice living in the moment can help you feel happier, healthier, and perform better at work.

    Used with permission from SAGE

  • July 12, 2021 5:18 PM | Dara Cormany (Administrator)

    How well do your sales reps take care of their clients after a sale? Long-term clients are critical to your organization’s success. Existing customers know you and like working with you, and they’re also more likely to spend more on your products and services. The longer you retain your current clients, the more profitable they can become to your organization.

    It’s important to continue serving and nurturing clients after they sign on the dotted line. This could mean connecting with them on social media, checking in to see how a campaign went or sharing a helpful article.

    In this issue of Promotional Consultant Today, we highlight a post from The Center for Sales Strategy blog explaining why post-sale service is so important.

    1. Post-sale service allows sales reps to shine. Sales reps have educated, encouraged and guided their clients throughout the entire sales process. They put in the work to get their buyers through the sales funnel. While the heavy lifting is done, the post-sale period still reflects on sales reps’ performance, according to the blog post. When teams deliver on promises made during the sales process, the buyer diverts some of the credit to the sales rep. The opposite is also true. The post-sale service period is a chance for your sales reps to solidify the relationship.

    2. Post-sale service is a chance to help the client succeed. The best sales reps care about their clients’ long-term success. To them, it’s not just about making a sale and earning a commission—it’s about making an impact for their clients. While sales reps may have done an exceptional job answering buyer questions, responding quickly and defining value, the post-sale period is equally important. According to the blog post, the post-sale process is an opportunity to set the customer up for success through proper education, accurate information and prompt service when needed.

    3. Post-sale service could lead to maximum-value contracts. If your clients have a subpar experience with your team after the sale, they likely won’t return for repeat business. However, if your sales reps impress buyers all the way through the process, including after the sale, you position your company for upselling opportunities and continued profits from this customer.

    4. Post-sale service helps build loyalty. When clients buy a product or service from you, they are buying a solution to a problem they face. They want to trust that your sales team understands their needs—including those that may arise during the post-sale period. According to the blog post, buyers will often complete repeat purchases knowing they don’t have to worry about potential obstacles after a purchase.

    Taking care of your clients after the sale is important for them—and for your sales team. When clients have a positive experience with the products or services they purchased or received from you, they are naturally happier. They get the results they were looking for and are more likely to return for repeat business.

    Source: The Center for Sales Strategy blog. The Center for Sales Strategy is a customer-focused selling and talent-focused management consulting company.

    Used with permission from PPAI

  • June 15, 2021 12:08 PM | Dara Cormany (Administrator)

    Executive presence—that certain gravitas and innate ability to inspire and influence others—is a key skill to develop when you work in sales. When you have a strong executive presence, you know how to draw people in and compel them to keep listening. This skill serves you well whether you are pitching to prospects, presenting to clients or meeting with your sales team.

    According to leadership expert and executive coach, Joel Garfinkle, extroverts aren’t the only ones with strong executive presence. He says many introverts possess a more subtle but equally important version of the elements of executive presence.

    Whether you want to help those on your sales team or strengthen your own executive presence, Garfinkle says there are four key points to know. We share Garfinkle’s thoughts on the four components of executive presence in this issue of Promotional Consultant Today.

    1. Confidence. The first key component of executive presence is confidence—and just the right amount. If you appear overly confident, it may come across as bravado or bluffing, says Garfinkle. Introverts usually exude a tamer version of confidence than extroverts. Rather than talking just to be heard, they state their opinion when they have something valuable to say. Whether you consider yourself an introvert or extrovert, you can improve your executive presence by remaining calm and collected and making yourself a reassuring presence to those around you.

    2. Boldness. Introverts aren’t traditionally considered bold. However, when they overcome their natural tendency to hang back, they can set themselves apart as bold. This boldness goes a long way at developing executive presence. Garfinkle notes that the presentation doesn’t even need to be flashy. The important thing is to become known as someone who makes a decision and stands by it. Once you make the leap to own your position, you can handle whatever comes your way.

    3. Trustworthiness. Another important component of executive presence is trustworthiness. Since the introverts on your team are probably less likely to have a showy persona or participate in gossip, they are probably viewed as trustworthy professionals. The challenge, says Garfinkle, is allowing others to see that their character and personality matches their words and actions. This is difficult for professionals who come off as a closed book. Remember that people need to know a little about you and where you stand in order for them to trust you, Garfinkle points out.

    4. Insightfulness. Professionals who have the ability to hang back and observe a situation before responding are demonstrating a strong executive presence. This is where introverts tend to shine more than extroverts because they are accustomed to listening before speaking.

    Garfinkle says it’s important for professionals to share their insights, though. Many people don’t speak up thinking that no one wants to hear their thoughts, or they need more time to put their ideas together. Remember that people want to hear what’s on your mind—and they want to hear now, not later. Garfinkle recommends that professionals practice being clear and concise on the fly in order to develop their executive presence.

    Executive presence is the special sauce that can separate ordinary sales reps from the extraordinary ones. While extroverts may regularly demonstrate the components above, introverts also have what it takes to build a strong executive presence.

    Compiled by Audrey Sellers

    Source: Joel Garfinkle has written seven books and is recognized as one of the top 50 leadership coaches in the U.S. As an executive coach, he has worked with many of the world’s leading companies, including Google, Amazon and Starbucks.

    Used with permission from PPAI Media

  • June 15, 2021 12:07 PM | Dara Cormany (Administrator)

    In late March, beloved fast food chain SONIC partnered with Detroit-based sign painter Kelly Golden to release a new merch collection called Local SONIC Swag that’s got a little something for everyone (or everyone who lives in one of the 46 U.S. states where SONIC operates!). The tees have been a hit with fans of the burger chain and generated hundreds of social media posts on Instagram, TikTok, Facebook, and more.

    A video spot from SONIC showing off the new tees.

    You don’t have to be a seasoned promotional products whiz kid to know that it takes more than a fantastic product to have a successful promotion. So, what makes this clever promotion so popular?


    Instagram post with the #MySONICSwag hashtag from user @alegriajimeniz.

    Good promos invite people to connect and engage with your brand, and that’s just what these tees from SONIC do. With a custom-designed tee for every one of the 46 U.S. states where SONIC serves customers, this promotion offers fans a unique way to connect with the brand on a personal level. By combining local pride with fun designs and classic SONIC drive-in imagery, these tees invite patrons to show off their home state and their favorite fast food restaurant with a unique and quirky fashion statement.


    Just a few of the 46 unique tees available at sonicswagshop.com.

    What makes these tees so unique is the carefully considered individual designs for each state. From Alabama to Wyoming, these tees combine the things that make each state special with SONIC menu items to create whimsical graphics. The classic, vintage-style sign painting art of Kelly Golden fits perfectly with the 1950’s nostalgia of a drive-in restaurant like SONIC.

    • Tennessee
    • Texas
    • Rhode Island

    The Tennessee tee features a country-music playing raccoon whose drum set is a tater tot and onion ring, a clear homage to Nashville’s rich country music history. There’s a cowboy riding rodeo-style on a chili cheese coney for Texas, another classic SONIC menu item. Rhode Island gets its quintessential clam with a cute peppermint in place of a pearl, a wink to the state’s culinary and economic icon, and to the sweet post-meal treat that comes with every meal ordered at the drive-in snack stop. And that’s just a few of them! Every single SONIC State Swag tee has clever reminders of each state’s specialties mashed together with tasty treats, all wrapped up in cohesive designs that are fun to wear.

    Social Media Push

    When you add your favorite tee to your cart on sonicswagshop.com, there’s a note to share your state swag look on social media with #MySONICSwag, and this is included in their own social media posts about the shirts as well. Social media is a crucial component of every successful promotion, and this one is no different. Flipping through the hashtag on Instagram will greet you with cute family and couples’ photos set to the background of the iconic yellow and red drive-in, but that’s not the only social media success this campaign has had.

    Viral TikTok from @nixswede on the SONIC state tees.

    For many people (teens especially!), the news of this cute promotion broke on popular social media app TikTok in a viral video with over 1.1 million views from user @nixswede. In this video, @nixswede shares her favorite SONIC state tees, which no doubt inspired plenty of people to check out the tees and order their own. The success of her first video inspired @nixswede to make a whole series rating all of the SONIC state tees, each to the tune of 15 to 115 thousand views and likes a-plenty.

    Giving Back

    Screenshot from sonicswagshop.com featuring info on their give-back program.

    Not only are the SONIC tees adorable and a great way to flaunt some state pride, but they also give back to a good cause. For this promotion, SONIC is giving $1 from every t-shirt sale to help fight childhood hunger through the SONIC Foundation. The SONIC Foundation is a 501c3 non-profit division of the Inspire Brand Foundation and works to spark brighter futures for America’s youth by supporting education, community, and the ending of childhood hunger. By partnering their promotion with a good cause, SONIC’s fans can feel good about their purchases knowing that they’re helping their communities.

    Innovative promotions are multi-faceted and exciting, and that’s just what the #MySONICSwag campaign accomplishes. Depending on what state you want to rep, there are still tees available in many sizes on their site (sorry, Texas, you’re so popular that all your tees are out of stock right now). The SONIC state swag promotion is an excellent inspiration for your future campaigns!

    Used with permission from SAGE

Specialty Advertising Association of California (SAAC) 
3125 Skyway Circle N
Irving, TX 75038

p:972.258.3070   e: info@saac.net

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