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As Events Return So Should Promo Products

At a food truck and music festival in northern New Jersey recently, there were almost no promo products to be had.

With the pandemic finally showing signs of receding, events both big and small are popping up all over the country. People are looking for reasons to get outside, and they have money to spend. The promo industry should be working hand-in-hand with clients to ensure they’re getting their brand message out with clever and useful swag and merchandise.

This past weekend, I attended the Mine Hill Food Truck & Music Festival in northern New Jersey – my first event in a long time. It was strange seeing a few hundred people roaming around maskless. It felt normal, if you remember that feeling. However, there were very few promo products to be had. It was a missed opportunity for both local and major brands. I was there for just over an hour, enjoyed a cheesesteak and toured the area. There were only three vendors with promotional items on display. The one nationally known brand was Cutco Knives, which had a tent set up with some products – including kitchen utensils of all kinds, as well as pots, pans and other smaller branded items, like bags.

Cutco Knives tableclothCutco Knives had their wares spread on a branded tablecloth.

Two local businesses set up shop at the festival. One of the food trucks, Taxi Cab Burger, pitched branded tents with tables underneath, offering shade from the 90-degree heat. It was the only food truck out of about 15 that offered a place to sit with a shade option. Naturally, it was packed with business as customers looked to enjoy their meal out of the sun-kissed field.

Taxi Cab BurgerTaxi Cab Burger offered relief from the heat at tables under logoed tents.

Finally, the most impressive display of branding was from Butch’s Hot Sauce, which had a tent set up along with a display of eight different sauces available for sample and purchase. My family and I sampled several flavors before buying a mild BBQ garlic sauce. Along with the purchase, we received a labeled bag, along with stickers and a business card. Custom stickers and sticker sheets are a low-cost promo, ideal for helping small businesses boost brand awareness.

Butch's Hot Sauce stickersButch’s Hot Sauce gave out branded stickers with purchase of its sauce.

These were the only companies with branded items on display. No one else was selling merch or giving away promo items. This could be partially because of COVID, as there was still social distancing being enforced and cashless payments encouraged. Regardless of the reasons, however, it was a huge missed opportunity.

An even bigger missed opportunity was at the event’s beer garden. Locally brewed drinks were available for tasting and purchased, but the samples were all in clear shot glasses. Why not pour drink samples in glasses branded either with the event logo or the logo of the beer being sold? The logoed glasses could be given away or sold as a way to commemorate the event. A sticker or other small item with the brewery logo could help drinkers keep track of their favorite samples.

Even the food trucks themselves could have made a more lasting impression by giving out small items, such as stickers, magnets or cups, with a food purchase. COVID precautions may prevent some businesses from handing out swag, but with the country rapidly reopening and people returning to festivals like this one, there’s a lot of opportunity for distributors to help clients promote themselves after a year of being stuck inside.