The very purpose of bags—to haul stuff from one destination to another—makes them perfect as promotional products.
“Mugs are nice, but they sit on a desk. Calendars are nice, but they hang on a wall. Bags travel. They’re mobile branding,” says Christopher Duffy, MAS, senior vice president of marketing for Union, Illinois-based supplier BAG MAKERS, Inc. (UPIC: BAGMAKRS). “Why do people buy promotional products? They want their message to be seen. They want it out there. And that’s what bags do—they travel.”
There’s also an eco-friendly factor with bags. Take, for example, bags made from recycled billboards, which have been hugely popular at Houston, Texas-based supplier Landes, Inc. (UPIC: LANDES).
“End users realize that bags made from recycled billboards are not only U.S. made, durable and unique, but they give the unmistakable message of a brand’s commitment to the environment,” says President Sonny DeShong. “You can say, ‘My brand is green’ with PET, but scream it with billboard bags.”
Before choosing the right bag for a promotion, Duffy suggests asking what’s going inside the bag. “Is it a food product or not? Few distributors think to ask this. It’s not just the size but the weight of what’s going inside,” he explains.
Also, remember to point out the differentiating qualities of a bag, such as a pen loop, a hidden interior pocket or if there’s a way to fold the bag and snap it closed. “People like these little functionalities,” Duffy says. “Functional promotional products get used, and if they get used, they get seen.”
1. Make a statement with the Metallic Nonwoven Gift Tote, which features an open main compartment, accent stitching and a front pocket. Choose from black, gold and red.
Norwood Promotional Products UPIC: NORWOOD 317-275-2500 www.norwood.com
2. The leather is butter soft on the Chelsea Knapsack, which is designed with a magnetic flap cover, two zippered exterior pockets and a deep interior pocket complete with a spot for cell phones.
Emporium Leather Co. Inc. /The Royce Collection UPIC: royce 888-769-2348 www.royceleathergifts.com
3. Sure to be a fan favorite, the GameTime!™ Basketball Drawstring Backpack features a grommeted shoulder strap that doubles as a drawstring closure. It’s also offered in five additional sports shapes.
Jetline UPIC: jetline 877-858-9908 www.jetlinepromo.com
4. A removable, TSA-compliant laptop sleeve in the Sophia Checkpoint-Friendly Compu-Tote comes in handy at airport security. The bag includes a trolley handle attachment on the back.
Leed’s UPIC: LEEDS 800-860-1555 www.leedsworld.com
5. Made from industrial, heavyweight canvas, Style LAT001 will be around for the long haul. It features heavy-duty hardware, a cross-shoulder strap and a zippered closure.
Peerless Umbrella Co. UPIC: peerless 888-485-4900 www.peerlessumbrella.com
6. The Super Snack is an insulated tote and bottle tote in one. Features include a netted and solid exterior pocket, and a clear exterior card pocket for business cards, gift cards, name badges or coupons.
BAG MAKERS, Inc. UPIC: BAGMAKRS 800-458-9031 www.bagmakersinc.com
7. Old billboards get new life in the Billboard Fashion Tote, which is manufactured from recycled billboards. Look for a Velcro® closure, binding trim and polyweb handles.
Landes, Inc. UPIC: LANDES 800-320-0399 www.landesusa.com
8. Styled in black denim fabric, the Denim Slim Brief is a fashionable way to transport laptops. It includes a protective slip pocket for an iPad, tablet or e-reader.
SUMDEX Inc. UPIC: SUMDE726 888-786-3391 www.sumdexsolutions.com
9. Go eco-friendly with the Rock Bag. It’s made from Intelliplas, which is part limestone and part post-industrial recycled polyethylene. A variety of sizes and styles is available.
Metropak, Inc. UPIC: METROPAK 800-950-8089 www.thebagsource.com
10. Litchi fabric on the Lamis Carry-On Bag has the look and feel of leather, making it perfectly gift-worthy. A back slip pocket has a hook-and-loop closure for toting books and magazines.
Vitronic Promotional Group UPIC: ACHIEVER 800-666-7117 www.vitronicpromotional.com
Curious about what styles will be hot next year? Click here to hear Christopher Duffy, MAS, weigh in on bag trends for 2012.
The Time For Promotional Bags Is Now
Out with single-use bags and in with reusable totes—or so a Los Angeles law proposed in September, according to the Los Angeles Times. If passed, paper and plastic bags would be banned throughout the state in favor of reusable varieties. If the ban passes, and other cities and states follow suit, it’s a jackpot for some sectors of the promotional products industry.Grocery totes such as this style from American Ad Bag Co. (UPIC: ADBAG) could become commonplace at California retailers.
Backpacks For The Blue Man Group
Nocturne Productions, a supplier of video production services for live stage shows, needed a special backstage giveaway for the Blue Man Group tour. It called in Michelle Perkol of Star Gift Alliance, who sourced the perfect gift: the EVO Backpack from Anaheim, California-based supplier Mobile Edge (UPIC: Mobile).The Blue Man Group logo was imprinted onto a rubberized patch, which was sewn to the top of the backpack. Nocturne’s logo was embroidered on the lower portion of the bag.
Perkol reports a happy client and a re-order of this bag. “It was a challenge to find the right bag that had everything I was looking for. The EVO Backpack had everything I needed and more,” she says. “The coloring was ideal, and the logo placement worked out great.”
How Do You Design A Great Bag? Ask Miss America.
Kirsten Haglund, Miss America 2008, is a beauty queen with an eye for design. Last year, she teamed up with Hartwell, Georgia-based supplier Southern Plus (UPIC: southpls) to launch The Kirsten Haglund Collection of bags. Part of the proceeds from the bags goes to the Kirsten Haglund Foundation, which Haglund started in 2009 to provide awareness and treatment for eating disorders. Read on to learn how Haglund is using the bags to convey her foundation’s mission: “Love Your Body, Rock The World.”PPB: How did your relationship with Southern Plus first begin?
Haglund: I met Brannon Craig [national sales manager for Southern Plus] through a contact of mine in summer 2010. I started a conversation with him about my foundation and what [Southern Plus] does. We hit it off. They were interested in helping the foundation, so we developed a partnership. We looked at what they could do and what I loved, and they said, “Why don’t we do a great bag line that’s trendy, fun and representative of the foundation?” The foundation is all about inspiring women to love themselves and love their bodies. [Southern Plus] was on board with that. We launched the line in January 2011 [at The PPAI Expo].
PPB: Where did you find inspiration for your bags in this collection?
Haglund: The motto of my foundation is “Love Your Body, Rock the World.” It’s a celebration of life. The foundation raises money for eating disorders and treatment. Our goal is to provide women with access to the care they need so that they can live healthy, productive lives. It’s an empowering movement—not a depressing movement.
In that festive, celebration-of-life kind of vein, I thought: What’s something that has attitude, life and funk, and that stands out? We don’t want women to blend in with the crowd—we want women to own who they are and stand out. We wanted something that was unique and that was spunky and funky. The animal print on the zebra tote is a mix of classy and funky. And the floral-print bag features gray, which is a trendy thing right now.
PPB: Have you always had a passion for design?
Haglund: I’m a shoes and bags girl—those are my loves. I grew up as an artsy person, doing musical theater and dance, as well as acting and singing. So I grew up in the art and design world. When I was in school at the University of Cincinnati, we had to take a costume and design class, and that’s when I first got the experience and exposure to the design aspect as an art. I’ve never been great with sketching, but because of my creative background, I love to mix, match, design and collaborate.
PPB: What do you enjoy most about designing bags?
Haglund: I’ve always been a creative person. I like the functionality of being able to create something that’s not just for a good cause but that’s fashionable. I like the cross between good causes and fashion—the two don’t have to be mutually exclusive. And knowing that part of the proceeds goes to a good cause makes my heart happy.
PPB: What’s your personal favorite from this line and why?
Haglund: I love big bags. I always carry my life with me wherever I go, and I travel a ton, so the zebra tote is the perfect carryon for me. The zebra pattern isn’t too outlandish, and it’s just the right amount of class. When you travel, get off the plane and you’re tired, at least you have a nice bag. It’s functional and fashionable.
PPB: Are you using the bags in any way for your foundation?
Haglund: We’ve had all three bag designs printed with the foundation logo. The zebra tote is our bestseller; we sell it at all the events we do for our foundation and through our website. We also take orders on Facebook. We did a walk for my foundation recently, and we had the bags and all our merchandise there to sell. The zebra totes went like hotcakes. We couldn’t keep them on the table. It’s nice to provide something that’s for a cause, but that’s also something people will use and be proud to carry.
PPB: What’s next? Can we expect to see more designs from you?
Haglund: We’re going to see how the first collection goes and see if we can elaborate on this specific line. We’ll be watching the runways to see what we can add in the spring. We’re grateful for the partnership with Southern Plus. We love them and all they do. They’ve been a great partner.
ABOVE Kirsten Haglund; The Zebra Duffel is one of three bag designs from The Kirsten Haglund Collection, available from Southern Plus (UPIC: southpls).