This week’s blog feature is by Corey Witmer, an event industry leader with over a decade of experience working for some of the world’s largest brands including Nike, Apple, Budweiser, Volkswagen, Citi, and Panasonic. Corey’s activated two Super Bowls, led production on eight New York City Marathons, and was honored at last year’s Event Marketer’s Experience Design Technology Awards for his most recent work with Netflix.
In fact, we can trace back the first promotional products in the US as early as 1789, with the commemorative buttons for the election of George Washington. Creation and distribution of a swag bag formally started in the late nineteenth century when Jasper Meeks, a printer in Coshocton, Ohio, persuaded a local shoe store to contribute book bags embossed with the store name to local schools. The first trade association for the industry was founded by 12 manufacturers of promo items in 1904. Believe it or not, things have hardly changed since then.