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Editor

Embellished

By Kyle Richardson

About Kyle

A look at the daily impact of promotional products.
 

Guest Blogs

Guest Contributor
Which Version of QuickBooks Is Best for Ad Specialty Distributors?
Mar 27, 2015

There are five versions of QuickBooks, each designed for specific applications, and the ad specialty business was not one of...



Kiwi's Coaching Corner

Paul  Kiewiet
Hone
Mar 26, 2015

What are you doing to hone your skills? Hone. What a funny word! Abraham Lincoln said, “Give me six hours...



Lights, Camera, Promotion!

Brittany Hahn
In a Relationship: The Bachelor and Power Meetings
Mar 25, 2015

My mom often tells me, "Brittany, you should apply to be a contestant on the show 'The Bachelor' to find...



Not So Technically Speaking

Dale Denham
Industry IT Innovation
Mar 24, 2015

A small group of IT leaders is beginning to change the technology dynamics in the industry. Two years ago, a...



Compliance Chat

Jeff Jacobs
Want to Know Who's Really Influential? We’re Going to Use Data to Find Out
Mar 20, 2015

Starting today, we are embarking on the most comprehensive search of the promotional products industry's top content providers ever done....



Jeff's Rant

Jeff Solomon, MAS
How Does Amazon’s Business Model Affect Ours?
Mar 19, 2015

Our evolving industry business model continues to be a hot topic. Recently I started wondering how an online purchasing mentality,...



Beyond Words

Rebecca Kollmann, MAS+
Spring Cleaning
Mar 16, 2015

It’s that time of year when the world looks fresh and clean—for those of us with winters of snow, we...



Be Bold, Be Different, Be Memorable

Rick Greene, MAS
My Best Promotion: Infusing Bold Solutions & What We Do Do
Mar 4, 2015

This year, the Be Bold, Be Different, Be Memorable blog postings will have a common theme. Promo Marketing has asked...



Million Dollar Mindset with Greg Muzzillo

Greg Muzzillo
Wisdom from Lady Gaga
Mar 2, 2015

I recently watched the Academy Awards and was amazed at Lady Gaga’s tribute to “The Sound of Music.” If you...



Selling Smarter

Rosalie Marcus
Feeling Reluctant?
Feb 17, 2015

Have you ever felt reluctant to make a sales call, follow up with a client or attend a networking event?...



Quick Thoughts by Cliff Quicksell, MAS

Cliff Quicksell, MAS
Measure the ROI at Trade Shows (Using the Right Mix of Creative and Promotional Products)
Dec 30, 2014

Every year more and more products are being introduced into the market, and after a while it all looks the...



Editor's Notes

Nichole Stella
The Perfect Match
Mar 5, 2013

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



Promotional Fashionista

Colleen McKenna
5 Soccer Promotions for After the World Cup
Jul 1, 2014

Studies show that Americans prefer soccer to NASCAR. Here are five items to sell to soccer fans....



Mike's Blog

Michael Cornnell
Interview with Jason Black, CEO of Top Distributor Boundless Network
May 19, 2014

Ranking #19 on the Top 50 List, Black shares his thoughts on the future of the industry and what has...



The Hot Button

Mary Ellen Sokalski, MAS
"How It's Made" Can Make You More
Jun 11, 2014

The show "How Its Made" is celebrating its 22nd season on television. How can we be a hit, season after season,...



Be Dazzled

Elise Hacking Carr
Got Control Issues?
May 14, 2014

Does chaos define you? How you respond to certain situations says a lot about your character. Here are five quotes...



Big Picture Promo

Matt Kaspari, CAS
Meeting Clients Where They Are
Oct 24, 2013

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
May 29, 2012

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



Creating More Purposeful Sales Conversations

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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