Our articles on the most popular promotional products of the year

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What year, eh?

In all of our time covering the promotional product industry, this may be the most eventful reporting year we’ve seen. We’ve had pandemic relief, a return to business, new virus variants, celebrity fast food meals, Elon Musk has really looked into meme-worthy merchandise and more. The words “supply chain” have become a part of our everyday vernacular.

It’s interesting to look back on the year. It’s so eventful that it’s easy to forget some of the great stories we posted in 2021.

So we decided to take a look at what interests you the most, as the readers. In case you need a refresher like we do, here are the 10 Most Read Promotional Marketing Stories of 2021. Click on each headline to read (or re-read) the full story.

And don’t forget to check in over the next few days as we recap 2021 with our annual year-end closing series.


Patagonia announced this year that it will stop letting companies add their logos to its clothing. This was a big blow to the industry, as Patagonia has always been viewed as a quintessential outerwear brand with high perceived value. The company’s reasoning was that adding logos makes a term garment obsolete, which could doom it to a future in a landfill.


After changes to NCAA rules allowed college athletes to begin using their Name, Image, and Likeness (NIL) for personal purposes, Barstool Sports created a program for lesser-known student-athletes so that ‘they present themselves as “stool athletes”. Athletes received free loot from Barstool and the right to represent Barstool on social media, but the actual benefits were a bit unclear.


The reboot of “Space Jam” was practically an excuse to form new marketing partnerships, and it worked as expected. The film’s partnership with Nike and Xbox was a branded kit that included sneakers, gaming systems, and more, all wrapped up in smart packaging and sent to influencers like professional athletes. He looked good and got a lot of attention on social media.


In January, hundreds of dockworkers at the Los Angeles and Long Beach ports tested positive for COVID-19, creating a backlog of 40 ships and unloaded cargo. Obviously, this was just the start of problems at West Coast ports and around the world in 2021.


K-pop sensations BTS had a celebrity meal with McDonald’s, and unlike previous winners, they were able to put their logo on food packaging and employee clothing, all of which ended up on resale sites like eBay. Turns out people really want a bold paper bag as long as there’s a logo they like on it.


It was a great year for Olivia Rodrigo, whose debut album “Sour” received critical and critical acclaim. But the young pop star’s merchandise wasn’t as well received, with some customers complaining about products that looked nothing like what they had on the site, incorrect orders, or damaged merchandise.


The PRO law, intended to help workers in the odd-job economy by facilitating unionization, was passed in the House in March. The bill would also create problems for employees of promotional products who are considered independent contractors. Industry organizations such as PPAI have joined with other business groups in urging lawmakers not to enact the bill.


In this detailed report, we took an early look at how the pandemic would affect the supply chain. At the start of the year, people were already experiencing issues such as delivery delays, price increases, etc. Sadly, many of these issues have not gone away and may not end until 2022 or beyond.


9. California Ports See Record Container Ship Order Book in August

As of August of this year, 44 ships were waiting to access the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach, exceeding the February total. With holiday shopping well underway, in addition to COVID-related closures at international ports, ships were experiencing an average wait time of 7.6 days.


The Alabama-based minor league baseball team have shown how far good branding can go in building team spirit. The team hadn’t even played an inning before selling $ 4 million worth of merchandise, including to some fans who didn’t even know they were a baseball team.


Come back tomorrow for the next 2021 report. Thanks for reading!


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