Comparing the Republican and Democratic Convention Swag Bags and Promotional Products
Conventions and politics: two arenas custom-made for promotional product use. From trade show handouts to political buttons, branded merchandise plays a major role in both realms, so it is no surprise that you'll see more imprinted items at political conventions than at most promotional products trade shows.
Presidential election years always see a surge in promotional sales, but the 2012 election cycle is particularly interesting for members of the incentives industry. Between the president cutting the government's promotional budget by 20 percent, candidates being caught selling foreign campaign items, and the media's recent obsession with swag, an unusually strong emphasis has been placed on decorated merchandise.
That interest culminated in the two largest political conventions in the country, the Republican and Democratic National Conventions, where party delegates descend to nominate their candidate for presidency. These conventions are more than political procedure: they are part party, party spectacle, and many of the delegates get into the party spirit by donning their party's promotional merchandise.
Each convention provided journalists with an official swag bag of merchandise. According to Gawker, the Republican Convention, which ran from August 27-30, gave a bag which included:
- One University of Tampa brochure and chip clip.
- One Tampa Bay Storm beer cozy.
- One poolside relaxation kit: cheap shades, sunscreen, handheld fan/ personal intimate massager.
- One package of CSX-branded breath mints.
- One copy of "The Patriot's Essential Liberty Companion Guide to Our Founders' Wisdom."
- One copy of BAYPOP magazine.
- One copy of Mitt Romney's book, No Apology: The Case For American Greatness.
Meanwhile, the Democratic Convention, which began on Tuesday and concludes this evening, provided the media with the following:
- One Piedmont Natural Gas-branded Charlotte 2012 floppy plastic water bottle and carabiner.
- One issue, Charlotte Business Journal.
- One Charlotte 2012 Visitor's Guide.
- One "Awesome Mini Game Pack" consisting of a handful of cardboard cards.
- One Belk-branded leather-like portfolio.
- One Charlotte 2012 fan, non-electric.
- One advertisement for the Madeline Albright "Read My Pins" exhibit at the Mint Museum.
- One AT&T-branded tote bag.
- One mini can of Coke Zero.
The media packages were not the only swag bags floating around the convention centers. Some states provided their own delegates with welcome packages. The Sacramento Bee reports that both Democrat and Republican delegates received swag bags filled with items sponsored by local state businesses and politicians, with the contents of the RNC California bag being valued at up to $700.
Each convention has also had an official store filled with branded merchandise available for purchase. Vanity Fair reported that the most popular item at the RNC store was a Mitt Romney iPhone cover, retailing for $40, while the National Post features a collection of various promotional items currently for sale at the DNC.
Kyle A. Richardson is the editorial director of Promo Marketing. He joined the company in 2006 brings more than a decade of publishing, marketing and media experience to the magazine. If you see him, buy him a drink.