4imprint, LLC

| Updated: September 08, 2021

When you hear the word advertising, what do you picture? A billboard on the side of the highway? A TV commercial? A page in a magazine?

A promotional product?

Promotional products are the most effective form of advertising.

When creating your next marketing budget, you may want to consider adding promotional items to your marketing mix. According to PPAI (PDF), promo products are the most effective form of advertising—more than broadcast, mobile, online or print. And Canadians say promo items are their favourite form of advertising (PDF).

In this Blue Paper, we’ll talk about why advertising giveaways work so well, and discuss the advantages of classic, contemporary and co-branded advertising promotional items.


The power of promotional items

We know advertising giveaways are effective, but what makes them work so well?

Promotional products are in it for the long haul

Think about how many computer pop-up ads, magazine pages or 30-second TV commercials people see each day. Now think about how much time they spend processing those ads. While people might recall an especially entertaining or insightful ad, most advertising goes by so fast it is often forgotten.

Promotional products have incredible staying power, with people holding on to them for an average of eight months.

Promo items promote brand memory

People don’t just keep and use promotional items—they remember where they came from. While studies have shown that brand recognition from video ads drop by half overnight, an impressive 85 percent of recipients (PDF) remember what company gave them a piece of apparel like a shirt or hat.

They create goodwill

In a world where people fast-forward, click “skip” and flip pages to avoid advertising, promotional products continue to create excitement. In fact, getting a promotional product affects how people view a brand. Remember that 82 percent of recipients (PDF) view a brand favourably after receiving a promotional product. Moreover, 83 percent of recipients are more likely to do business with a company after receiving one.

83 percent of people are more likely to do business with a brand after receiving a promo item.

What truly makes advertising promotional items stand out is that they are more than just information—they’re a gift. They show appreciation and gratitude.


Picking the perfect giveaway

Now that we’ve talked about why advertising promotional products work, it’s time to find the perfect promotional product for your brand.

When choosing an advertising promotional product, keep in mind your goal is for the recipient to keep the item for as long as possible. People hold on to promotional products that are:

  • Fun
  • Functional
  • Trendy

As you choose your promotional product, be sure to remember:

  • Your budget
  • Your target market
  • The number of giveaways you need
  • How the item will represent your brand

Narrowing down the choices

With so many advertising promotional items to choose from, finding something that will keep your company top of mind can be difficult. Refine your search by considering these categories: contemporary (products that are hot now), co-branded (products from a popular brand) and classics (items that never go out of style).


Show your company’s relevance by choosing a promotional product that is hot right now. When fashion trends and fun items like message boards start showing up on shelves at your local store, it’s likely you can tap into those trends for a standout promotional product.

Having trendy advertising giveaways can help you make positive impressions in several ways.

  • It can turn your table into the place to be at a trade show or event.
  • It can demonstrate that your business is keeping up with the times.
  • Customers often appreciate and are excited by trendy items, so they’ll be more likely to keep them.

Fashion forward

Fashion is ever changing and so is your brand. Stay up to date with the market by selecting products that feature the hottest trends, like heather fabric. Or take advantage of the return of the fanny pack—this time as a sling bag. Fashion-forward advertising promotional products are sure to be popular. And because they are trendy and current, your recipient will likely want to show them off at home or at the office.

Fashion-forward advertising promotional products get used.

The must-have item

Having a hot item on hand is a simple way to catch the attention of attendees at a trade show. It’s also a good way to show gratitude to customers and employees when used as a thank-you gift.

Right now, Qi® wireless charging pads are a must-have tech product. With so many smartphones being created with wireless charging technology, these types of products will only grow in popularity. That makes wireless chargers a good bet for your brand.

PopSockets® have become an extremely popular accessory, something Liz Blackburn discovered when her college started handing out the PopSockets Phone Stand – Full Colour.

“Because they were trendy, I was seeing more and more people using them,” said Blackburn, the Operations Manager at the College of New Caledonia in Prince George, B.C. “In particular, my boss was using one and recommending them to everyone and they were buying them.”

The college purchased a branded version for on-campus staff, and quickly realized demand was higher than expected. “When we would go to another campus for meetings, staff members would be asking where [the PopSockets] came from. So, we had to send them to those staff members as well,” Blackburn said.

When their recruiters saw how popular they were, PopSockets were added to the list of promotional items to hand out to potential students. “When students come to visit, they get one and it reminds them to do things like check on their admission status,” Blackburn said.


If you want to take your advertising giveaway to the next level, consider pairing your name with a well-known brand. Many companies are now offering to co-brand promotional products.

Under Armour® is one of them. Currently the fourth best-selling sporting goods manufacturer in the world, their high-quality line include shirts, bags and more. Since these products are already popular, there’s a very strong chance an Under Armour promotional product will be used frequently. If you brand an Under Armour bag with your logo, for example, your name will get more attention.

The classics

Eighty-two percent of Canadians (PDF) keep promotional items because they’re useful. That’s a major reason why classic promotional items remain popular. Other reasons include:

  • They’re available in a variety of price ranges, from high-end to budget-friendly.
  • They are available in a variety of colours, so it’s easy to match your brand or show off your logo.
  • Many have trendy variations, allowing you to tie a useful classic to a fun contemporary promotion.

According to study linked above, the three most popular promotional items in Canada are:

Writing instruments

From the budget pencil to the high-end pen, every writing instrument generates almost 3,000 impressions according to the study linked above, making them an ideal way to provide customers with your contact information.

Just ask April Molloy, a CSR/Administrator for Encore Metals in Winnipeg, Man. She’s been using the Paper Mate® Sport Pen as a giveaway for several years.

“We have multiple generations of these pens,” Molloy said. “We’ve gone through pretty much every colour and translucent one available. I like to tell customers they’re limited edition,” she says with a laugh.

The pens are kept in the shipping department, where drivers are encouraged to use them to sign forms and take them when they need them. “They have our logo and company website. Customers take them and hold on to them, so they always have our information on hand,” Molloy said.


Polo shirts are a great way to create a polished, uniform look for your employees. And they can be worn outside the office to further promote your brand. Comfortable T-shirts make great gifts to thank customers for their business.


Bags turn your brand into a billboard. Each one generates more than 4,700 impressions (PDF). And bags come in a wide variety of price points. You can give high-end bags to your employees who need to carry their laptops or you can hand out simple tote bags to customers at an event. Either way, bags are sure to please.


Promotional giveaways are the ads people want

What makes advertising giveaways so special is that they are more than ads—they’re also gifts. By finding the right promotional item, you can turn that gift into thousands of brand impressions.