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Editor

Embellished

By Kyle Richardson

About Kyle

A look at the daily impact of promotional products.
 

Guest Blogs

Guest Contributor
Shouldn't I Be Able to Do My Own Accounting?
Apr 24, 2015

My husband, Steve, consults with small businesses that he calls "underdogs"—businesses that rely primarily on the skills and efforts of...



Kiwi's Coaching Corner

Paul  Kiewiet
They Won't Buy Your Stuff
Apr 23, 2015

They’ll buy the results that they’ll get. They’ll buy the feelings they can create. They’ll buy the outcomes. They’ll buy...



Lights, Camera, Promotion!

Brittany Hahn
The Worst Part of Waking Up
Apr 22, 2015

If you're a caffeine addict, there is nothing joyous about getting out of your cushy bed to cope with the...



Not So Technically Speaking

Dale Denham
3 Ways to Get Your Email Under Control
Apr 21, 2015

Email marketing works. It works so well, everyone is doing it. The low cost of sending emails has flooded our...



Beyond Words

Rebecca Kollmann, MAS+
Swing All the Way Through
Apr 20, 2015

From time to time, I’ve written about a situation involving one of my kids, and after observing something recently, it’s...



Jeff's Rant

Jeff Solomon, MAS
Fido, Felines, Fitness, Family and Friendships
Apr 16, 2015

Those who know me know I love my dogs. Spud, our precocious miniature dachshund, has been featured in many of...



Selling Smarter

Rosalie Marcus
What Creates Customer Loyalty?
Apr 14, 2015

Did you know that April is International Customer Loyalty Month? Think about the businesses you consistently patronize. What have they...



Million Dollar Mindset with Greg Muzzillo

Greg Muzzillo
The No. 1 Ingredient for Business Success
Apr 6, 2015

What’s the No. 1 key ingredient to business success? Some might say sales. Others might say marketing, technology or access...



Compliance Chat

Jeff Jacobs
The Exact Cause Was Never Determined
Apr 3, 2015

If you read what normally is in this space, you've seen a lot about the protocol it takes to manufacture...



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...



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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