There is something oddly painful that we all experience at the events and trade shows that everyone in the Marketing (in fact most) industries encounters.

These events are a source of constant consternation amongst peers at every company I’ve experienced – every single one. Are they a worthwhile way to gain brand exposure, meet with customer and prospects, and be seen to be relevant with a presence at the Big Shows (include here C-level speaking spots, partner events, technical seminars, et al)?

“You must be in it to win it” cry the New Business team. “We need visible presence, or the competition will roll over us” shrieks the Brand team, “It’s a vital opportunity to meet with press and influencers, all in one place” coo the PR department.

All true.

OR… It’s a massive waste of money and time.

Now, I am not going to solve that age-old conundrum within the confines of a stay-at-home induced blog post (hard ROI target Brand team? Want to put a sales target tied to your bonus on that event Mr New Biz Director?? No? Hmmm interesting). No, what I want to segue into here in the single most important part of the corporate event experience that we all face when we attend, especially the big trade shows…. freebies!

What our cousins across the pond refer to as tchotchkes, but we call them free crap giveaways.

And yet there is hope amongst the clicky-pens and water bottles. For I have seen the holy grail of corporate event giveaways, the single most popular item I’ve come across at any show, ever, with a line around the stand at one point…

A small, yellow rubber duck. Company logo on the side.

Genius.

Why do I think this is a such a fantastic idea? For the same reason that there was a queue for these things – they are for the kids of the people collecting them. They are going to be in the baths and on the shelves for years to come, completely out of the cluttered, desktop environment, away from the stack of branded notebooks and valued for its entertainment value to your precious child.

The logo blaring from the side might not be hammered home to you every bath time, but sometimes it will and it is certainly more likely to be seen than the other garbage littering your desk drawer.

Needless to say they were out of these ducks in a matter hours. Everyone there could take home something actually interesting for their kids instead of work colleagues. They had created something that the target audience craved and had real value to them.

Maybe I’m more offended – and in this case impressed – by the production and distribution of giveaways since the Marketing department is responsible for the time, thought, creativity and spend for these, but even for something I find so painful it’s nice to see a smart, creative and successful idea leading to a stand queue.

…and a smile on a child’s face.

So, what examples of amazing/terrible event giveaways do you have? Leave a comment below.