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Editor

Embellished

By Kyle Richardson

About Kyle

A look at the daily impact of promotional products.
 

Be Bold, Be Different, Be Memorable

Rick Greene, MAS
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Rosalie Marcus
Feeling Reluctant?
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Have you ever felt reluctant to make a sales call, follow up with a client or attend a networking event?...



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Rebecca Kollmann, MAS+
Give the Gift of Time
Feb 9, 2015

None of us have the time we’d like to accomplish what we need to get done. Time is a precious...



Quick Thoughts by Cliff Quicksell, MAS

Cliff Quicksell, MAS
Measure the ROI at Trade Shows (Using the Right Mix of Creative and Promotional Products)
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Every year more and more products are being introduced into the market, and after a while it all looks the...



Guest Blogs

Guest Contributor
How Can a 3D Printer Make You Money?
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One of the most difficult parts of getting the sale is showing the customer exactly what they want when they...



Editor's Notes

Nichole Stella
The Perfect Match
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The Super Bowl has also become the Ad Bowl, where brands duke it out to see who has the funniest,...



Promotional Fashionista

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Mike's Blog

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Mary Ellen Sokalski, MAS
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Elise Hacking Carr
Got Control Issues?
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Big Picture Promo

Matt Kaspari, CAS
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Promotional marketing is at its best when it empowers a client’s brand, meets his or her objectives and fits within...



My Two Cents

Rick Brenner
For Promotional Product Sales, Protect Your Client's Brand
Jun 3, 2013

Whether you are selling to a global brand like Nike or to your local YMCA, no single asset is more...



Friday Sales-thought of the Week!

Dale Limes, MAS
Reverse Engineer Your Sales Success
Mar 18, 2013

Steven Covey reminds us that when setting goals ... "Start with the end in mind." That is to visualize the...



The Sales Challenge

Bill Farquharson
Think and Succeed
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What would happen if you woke up in the morning and your first thought was, "I am never going to...



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Lisa Leitch, CSP, MAS
Under 100 Days to Achieve 2011 Goals
Oct 20, 2011

It's hard to believe, but there are fewer than 100 days left to achieve 2011 goals! Are you on track...



The Real Toy Story: A Look Inside a Chinese Factory

 

A post on Reddit by user mod83 this morning introduced me to Michael Wolf, a German-born, Hong Kong-based photographer. After a career in photojournalism, Wolf made the switch to fine arts in 2003, producing many works depicting life in urban China.

In 2004, Wolf created an art installation in called "The Real Toy Story." For the project, Wolf took portrait and action shots of Chinese factory workers building children's toys, then sought out those same items in stores across California. Combining the bright plastic toys with the gray factory shots, Wolf hoped to highlight the disconnect between the products we buy and the culture that produces them.


You can visit Michael Wolf's site to see photos of the installation as well as all of the individual photographs used. While I appreciate what he was doing with the gallery showing, the photos are more powerful without all the splash. The portraits are staged and I assume the factories were on their best behavior during the shoots, but you still get a real look at what life is like for these workers. How they work, how they dress, what they eat and where they sleep.


What I found most interesting are all the chairs they use. When you go through the gallery, pay attention to what all the employees are sitting on during their portrait shots. The cobbled-together seats are apparently so common in China that Wolf's first art project, "Bastard Chairs," focused exclusive on them.

These photos are nearly 10 years old now, and a lot has happened in China, as well as in the U.S., that could impact the conditions you see in these photos. An increased focus on China as it becomes a more powerful world player, higher material costs that make mass production less profitable, and stronger regulations due to laws like CPSIA are all changing the picture of Chinese factory life. These factories don't look nearly as bad as some I've seen, and maybe life for these workers is even better now than it was in 2004, but according to one report on Mattel released last week, that isn't likely.

The factories depicted may not produce items relevant to our industry, but Chinese shops like this are making promotional products every day. It's not difficult to imagine the workers assembling tumblers or T-shirts instead of doll parts.

For more information, as well as the full "The Real Toy Story" gallery and other projects about life in China, visit photomichaelwolf.com.

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