The Wall Street Journal: Why Use a Free Promotional Tote When You Can, Uh, Buy One Instead?
As promotional products that have rather unexpectedly crossed over into the world of fashion, totes are all the rage these days. Simple yet hip, promotional totes have managed to displace their more costly competitors for a number of reasons. Canvas totes not only offer a more sustainable option than plastic grocery bags, but also prove to be reliable accessories fit to make subtle-yet-certain statements on individual fashion and social sense. Totes are cool, and so are you, as long as you use them. That is, of course, unless you are the Wall Street Journal.
Last week, the publication ran an article deeming canvas totes to be pretentious, and suggesting that folks spend money on bags again. While some of its arguments, such as one such citing in 2011 study in order to claim that cotton totes are somehow more wasteful than plastic bags, would be compelling in a vacuum, they fall rather short when paired with a thesis that encourages folks to buy totes anyway.
Regardless, we’re curious to see that study given all we now know about the effects of plastic waste on the environment, including that big ol’ plastic continent now taking shape in the Pacific Ocean.
Let's see what the article has to say:
You can, in fact, have too much of a good thing: beige canvas logo’d tote bags, for instance. One morning last week, I extracted such a bag from my closet and discovered three smaller versions scrunched inside it—tote within tote within tote—like an unwelcome family of Russian dolls. Literary magazines, art fairs, gourmet supermarkets, athleisure brands, noodle bars, prestige pharmacies: In 2018, there are few commercial ventures that haven’t printed their names across canvas tote bags (which often come “complimentary” with a purchase or subscription). A recent scan of a Manhattan restaurant took in three New Yorker tote bags; one tote from Marfa, Texas; one tote advertising the music streaming service Tidal; and, finally, a tote designed in the style of a Virginia Woolf book cover imprinted with the dubious wordplay “Tote Lighthouse.”
Look, we’re all for argumentation, but canvas totes deserve a little more respect. Sure, they tend to pile up in closets, and of course it gets a little tiresome to see so many New Yorker totes in a day, but at least they get reused! As promotional products, they couldn’t work any better, gathering brand impressions like no other.
The whole purpose of a branded tote is to promote a brand, and the fact that folks are willing to do so is a testament to the power of both marketing and brand identity. People also love totes because they’re free or cheap, and so to tell them instead to seek out bags that cost upwards of $100 kind of misses the point. Trust us, we’d love to get our hands on this tote from YETI, if only the price tag didn’t deter us so.
At the end of the day, we at Promo Marketing think that people should be able to accessorize however they please. Whether that means they want a canvas tote for every day of the week, or a designer one worth the price of all of those together, then so be it. But to hate on canvas totes just because they’ve reached the mainstream? Now that’s just pretentious.