"Rock Stars of the Promotional Products Industry" Brings Promo Heavyweights to PROMOTIONS EAST
Familiar faces could be seen all around the PROMOTIONS EAST trade show floor on Monday, as suppliers and distributors attended education sessions and prepared their booths for Tuesday's exhibits. What was surprising, however, was seeing some of those faces in the same place.
Monday's big draw was the keynote panel, "Rock Stars of the Promotional Products Industry." Moderated by Joel Schaffer, MAS, president of Soundline, this roundtable discussion saw some of the industry's most active members on stage together for the first time: Tim Andrews, president and CEO of ASI; Paul Bellantone, president and CEO of PPAI; Jonathan Isaacson, president of Gemline; Jo-An Lantz, MAS, executive vice president of Geiger; Anne McKeough, vice president of global sales for Staples Promotional Products; and Ira Neaman, president of Vantage Apparel were all answering questions from Schaffer, which had been provided by industry members.
The discussion began with Schaffer asking the panelists for their industry forecasts, and they were nearly universal in being cautiously optimistic for the future. Paul Bellantone noted that the industry grew 7 percent last year, and that compared to other advertising mediums, "only Internet marketing and mobile marketing are growing faster." Other topics included questions about financing, the impacts of social media, how technology is changing sales and the importance of product safety.
China was a recurring topic in the conversation, although for a change, it was not centered around U.S. jobs being sent overseas. During a section on international developments and the influence of the BRIC countries (Brazil, Russia, India and China), several of the speakers noted that these countries may be viewed as threats, but they may also be viewed as opportunities. Ira Neaman said that "BRIC has the largest bureoning middle class," and Tim Andrews added that China alone "will have 700 million people in the middle class."