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Editor

Embellished

By Kyle Richardson

About Kyle

A look at the daily impact of promotional products.
 

Lights, Camera, Promotion!

Brittany Hahn
Viral Marketing: The #IceBucketChallenge and How It's Still Relevant
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Many of us have dumped a bucket of ice on ourselves this past summer to raise awareness for ALS. No...



Not So Technically Speaking

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6 Reasons to Move to Microsoft Office 365
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2015 is the right time for you to plan to upgrade to the latest version of Microsoft Office, Office 365....



Beyond Words

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Taming the Monster
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Today, we’re going to look at something very small, but also very important. It’s unseen by many, lurking in the...



Compliance Chat

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The Rules for Beer Pong
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There are lots of recyclables and choices on who takes what. With a little education you can still keep to your...



Jeff's Rant

Jeff Solomon, MAS
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I'm writing this while recovering from a big race in our town. Sitting here sore in a few places, I...



Selling Smarter

Rosalie Marcus
7 Ways to Get Paid Faster
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Recently, I had a coaching call with a promotional products distributor who was frustrated because some of her clients were...



Kiwi's Coaching Corner

Paul  Kiewiet
Take it to the Next Level
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To what lengths will you go to make yourself remarkable to your clients? If you're not willing to think harder...



Million Dollar Mindset with Greg Muzzillo

Greg Muzzillo
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Our business is about building the lifestyles of our dreams. And to create the lifestyle you’ve always wanted to live...



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Setting Annual Sales Goals are a Waste of Time II—Sales Goals Strike Back
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For some people, setting sales goals is not a waste of time. It's all about perceptions, really—perceptions that empower and...



Quick Thoughts by Cliff Quicksell, MAS

Cliff Quicksell, MAS
10 Tips for Creating Testimonials that are Compelling and Useful
Oct 27, 2014

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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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Promotional Fashionista

Colleen McKenna
5 Soccer Promotions for After the World Cup
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Mike's Blog

Michael Cornnell
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May 19, 2014

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The Hot Button

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"How It's Made" Can Make You More
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Be Dazzled

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Got Control Issues?
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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
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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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