2021 Wrap-Up: Our Most-Read Stories of the Year
What a year, huh?
In all our time covering the promotional products industry, this might be the most eventful year of reporting we've experienced. We had pandemic relief, business returning, new virus variants, fast food celebrity meals, Elon Musk really leaning into meme-worthy merchandise and more. The words "supply chain" became a part of our daily vernacular.
It's been interesting taking a look back at the year. With it being so eventful, it's easy to forget about some of the big stories we published in 2021.
So, we decided to take a look at what you, the readers, were most interested in. In case you need a refresher like we do, here are the 10 most-read Promo Marketing stories from 2021. Click each headline to read (or re-read) the full story.
And don't forget to check in over the coming days as we recap 2021 with our annual year-end wrap-up series.
Patagonia announced this year that it would transition away from letting companies add their logo to its apparel. This was a blow to the industry, as Patagonia has always been seen as a quintessential outerwear brand with a high perceived value. The company's reasoning was that adding logos makes an article of clothing eventually obsolete, which might condemn it to a future in a landfill.
After NCAA rules changes allowed college athletes to begin using their name, image and likeness (NIL) for personal gain, Barstool Sports created a program for lesser-known student-athletes to brand themselves as "Barstool Athletes." The athletes were given free Barstool swag and the right to rep Barstool on social media, but the actual benefits were a little unclear.
The "Space Jam" reboot was practically an excuse to form new marketing partnerships, and it worked as intended. The movie's partnership with Nike and Xbox was a branded kit featuring sneakers, gaming systems and more, all wrapped in some clever packaging and sent to influential people like professional athletes. It looked good and got plenty of attention on social media.
In January, hundreds of dock workers at the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach tested positive for COVID-19, creating a backlog of 40 ships and unloaded cargo. Obviously, this was just the beginning of the issues at ports on the West Coast and worldwide in 2021.
K-pop sensations BTS had a celebrity meal with McDonald's, and unlike previous honorees, they got to put their logo on food packaging and apparel for employees, all of which ended up on resale sites like eBay. It turns out people really want a greasy paper bag as long as it has a logo they like on it.
It was a big year for Olivia Rodrigo, whose debut album "Sour" dropped to commercial and critical acclaim. But the young pop star's merchandise wasn't so well-received, with some customers complaining about products that looked nothing like they did on the site, incorrect orders or damaged goods.
The PRO Act, intended to help workers in the gig economy by making it easier to unionize, passed the House in March. The bill would also create problems for promotional products employees who are considered independent contractors. Industry organizations like PPAI joined other trade groups in urging lawmakers not to sign the bill into law.
In this longform report, we took an early look at how the pandemic would affect the supply chain. At the beginning of the year, people were already experiencing problems like shipping delays, price increases and more. Unfortunately, many of those problems haven't gone away, and might not until well into 2022 or beyond.
9. California Ports See Record Container Ship Backlog in August
By August of this year, 44 ships were waiting for access to the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach, topping the February total. With holiday shopping well underway, in addition to COVID-related shutdowns at international ports, ships were experiencing an average wait time of 7.6 days.
The Alabama-based Minor League Baseball Team showed how far good branding can go to create team spirit. The team hadn't even played an inning of ball before selling $4 million worth of merchandise, including to some fans who didn't even know they were a baseball team.
Check back in tomorrow for the next 2021 wrap-up. Thanks for reading!