picture of candies

5 Swag Items We WON’T be Giving Away This Conference Season

Ah, fall. That magical time of year to enjoy the smell of fresh apple pie baking in the oven, the crunch of leaves under your feet, and the chill of industrial AC blasting you in the face as you enter yet another conference center.

A wise man (probably) once said that with great conference-going comes great swag collecting. While we at SCM Connections have always been mildly skeptical about the choices of promotional swag given away at these events, we’ve taken notice of some of the trendier items that seem to be picking up steam on the conference circuit. Although these ideas may certainly help to promote brand exposure for some, they didn’t quite make the cut for us this time around. Here’s a quick rundown of things you aren’t likely to find at the SCMC booth in the near future:

reusable straw

#1: Reusable Straw with Case

All in all, I appreciate the aim of this product; removing excess waste from the oceans is obviously a good thing, and reusable straws have become a hot ticket item for eco-warriors and VSCO girls alike. Sadly, I just can’t get on board with the practical application of this particular product. You can only imagine the conversation that ensues when one approaches the booth looking for some take-home goodies:

Us: Would you like some swag?

Them: Um sure… (glances at container)… is that.. what is that? Headphones? Lip balm? Oh, silly putty!

Us: Nope, it’s a reusable straw! See you just pop it out of its holder, and then um… just give it a minute or two to unfold here, and I’ll show you how to-


At this point I’m attempting to validate my decision of buying 5000 SCM Connections straws by aggressively sipping hot coffee through a piece of neon green tubing. If the guest hasn’t walked away already, they’ll get the privilege of seeing me frantically search for a napkin to wipe it off with before I attempt to roll it back up for safekeeping in its little plastic house. Meanwhile, the straw is oozing leftover drops of coffee and… yeah. You get it. Hard pass on this one.

custom m&ms

#2: Personalized Candies

There’s something primally unsettling about printing a person’s face onto candy and then devouring it by the handful. It’s an endearing gesture, sure, to let someone know you care enough about them to inscribe their low-pixel likeness onto a thin candy shell. But in my 36 years on this earth,  I have never once looked at an M&M to appreciate its aesthetic value before consuming. 

As far as I know, the goal is eat these things by the handful until you’re too sick to realize how many you just had. Time and space warp, calories become meaningless, a milk chocolate existence is the only reality. And as dapper as our CEO Mike Raftery looks as a Halloween handout, I’d prefer our brand exposure to exist OUTSIDE of our target audience. Literally.

#3: "Promo Blocks"

“Hello family. I am back from the conference”

“Hi Dad!” What did you bring me?”

“A LEGO-ish set! Look at all of the things you can build! You can make a block, or another block with the same shape but the colors are reversed.”


“Yeah I knew you’d love it. Now, run along and play while daddy cleans the slobber out of his reusable straw case”

branded fruit
via brandedfruit.com

#4: Branded Fruit

Again, a good idea in principle. Fresh produce is healthy, and sometimes it can be difficult to find something with nutritional value in a trade show environment.

But let’s get real here. Someone gives you a garlic bulb with their name on it- cool. Original idea, pretty memorable. But here’s what happens next: You throw it in your swag bag. It falls to the bottom amongst all the flyers and stress balls.You forget about the garlic, and throw the bag into your suitcase and travel home… eventually, hours or days later, you crack open the suitcase, and WHOOOOSH. A wave of crushed garlic odor strong enough to knock out a cadre of vampires assaults your senses, seeping into every surface of your home. And SCM Connections is to blame. Why couldn’t they just give out creepy M&Ms instead?

tiger print sunglasses
via swagconnection.com

#5: Sunglasses

From Corey Hart to E-40, there’s always been a certain “coolness” associated with wearing sunglasses in situations where they aren’t required. Perhaps it’s the mystique of the dark, enigmatic stranger lurking in the shadows, a mind full of devastating secrets never to be told. 

Unfortunately, this hypothetical caricature is by and large absent at most of our supply chain events. So when 4:30 rolls around and a conference-wide game of telephone ensures that most attendees wind up at the one booth nice enough to give away alcohol, rocking the indoor sunglasses suddenly seems like a good idea. But you’re less likely to encounter a crowd of societal outcasts silently brooding for love lost, and more likely to see an array of Dockers-clad attendees rocking their stunner shades and accidentally bumping into the coffee trays. There probably won’t be a pop song about this anytime soon.

Take a look at our Collecting Swag blog for some tips on how to maximize your swag hunting ROI!

Share the knowledge

Share on linkedin
Share on twitter
Share on facebook
Share on email

Fresh supply chain knowledge delivered straight to your inbox

By signing up you agree to receive our quarterly newsletter