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Jun 02, 2021

Return of Live Events Powering Promo Sales

  • by Admin

Chris Ferriter was stoked to be in this kind of rush again. When an NBA team learned it could have more fans in attendance at its home playoff games than initially expected, the franchise turned to Ferriter's Miami-based promotional products distributorship SoBe Promos (asi/245603) to provide large quantities of branded T-shirts to give away in the arena. It was a rush job with a no-room-for-error deadline, but Ferriter couldn't have been happier for it. "It feels amazing to be working on non-PPE projects and providing people with printed goods for events again," says Ferriter, SoBe's vice president of sales. Overall, SoBe is "seeing a huge spike in requests for promo items that are being used for in-person giveaways, including music festivals. T-shirts, stadium cups, mugs and drinkware items are popular. We seem to be doing a ton of apparel." "Fans, it turns out, are what give games life, shape, vigor, context — and soul," writes @williamfleitch https://t.co/z7ABj5Evhp — New York Magazine (@NYMag) May 26, 2021 Across the United States, promo distributors say they're experiencing a similar rise in orders for branded merchandise for all kinds of in-person events. Sure, some promo firms are seeing significantly more sales than others, and in general distributors say the event-related activity is not yet back to pre-COVID levels. Nonetheless, after the pandemic-savaged year in which in-person event-related orders essentially disappeared, the roar back to activity is proving a big boon for many distributors. "Our order counts are double what they were at this time last year," says John Henry III, CEO of Fort Wayne, IN-based JH Specialty (asi/232445) and Counselor's 2019 Distributor Entrepreneur of the Year. "We aren't back to pre-pandemic levels, but signs are supporting that we will be in the near future." Advancing vaccination rollout, societal reopening, warmer weather and declining COVID cases are helping to drive the return of in-person events for which promo items are needed. Like other distributors, Henry says JH Specialty has been providing products for everything from concerts, corporate events and nonprofit initiatives, to university activities, family reunions and trade shows. One of those orders involved transparent stadium totes for a high-profile entertainer's concert. "As the public gets more comfortable and events of all shapes and sizes are happening, we're seeing orders to support them," Henry says. "Hats, T-shirts, and coolies with the addition of more items with a retail feel or brand have been popular." Check out this discussion for more on the return to live events. Dallas-based distributorship Bob Lilly Promotions (asi/254138) reports that client engagement events of all types and sizes are starting to proliferate. Corporate golf tournaments - and outdoor events in general - have made a big comeback. "For golf tournaments, clients are requesting signage, awards/prizes, apparel - shirts, quarter-zips and caps - and other golf related items," says CEO Bob Lilly Jr. "We're also seeing requests for Bluetooth speakers, drinkware and umbrellas. For client engagement events, the products selected depend on the theme, but branded seating, cooler options and other items that can be used outside have been sought after. Clients are also asking for healthy snacks and items that promote a healthy and active lifestyle." Recently, Los Angeles-based Top 40 distributor PromoShop (asi/300446) struck a deal to provide a fintech company with loads of Apple AirPods, which were to be gifts for an in-person employee event. Sales meetings and automotive shows are starting up again, and PromoShop is providing promo products for them, too. "For our clients' events, we've seen mid-range to high-end gifting, together with bags for mass giveaways," shares PromoShop President Memo Kahan, a member of Counselor's Power 50 list of promo's most influential people. Due to ongoing supply chain issues , some distributors note that product availability can be a challenge on requests for client events (and other orders too). But in general, the inventory issue doesn't appear to be derailing promo's overall rising momentum with in-person activities, as industry firms continue to find solutions to meet clients' needs, even if it takes more sourcing dexterity. Certainly in-person events are on the ascent at Stowebridge Promotion Group (asi/337500), says company President Kathy Finnerty Thomas. The Chandler, AZ-based distributorship is helping clients with initiatives that include bike races and other outdoor events, some of which are planned for the autumn when Arizona's inferno summer cools a bit. In a sizable job, Stowebridge is providing solutions for the June conference of a large medical rehabilitation organization, which has a few hundred locations around the country. Another job centers on gifts and room-drop items for a top award trip for about 600 folks traveling to a high-end resort in Mexico. "People," says Finnerty Thomas, "seem to be ready for fun again."

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