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Name: Adam Bernard
Home: Fairfield, Connecticut, United States
About Me: Entertainment journalist with 15+ years of experience. Supporter of indie music. Lover of day baseball, fringe movies, & chicken shawarma. Part time ninja. Nerdy, but awesome.
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Does Your Schwag Stack Up?
Friday, January 12, 2007

Promos from Potluck, Jake Lefco and Defamation League

How many times has this happened to you? You go to a concert or event of some kind and someone’s handing out schwag (promotional items). Maybe you get a sticker. Maybe you get an album sampler. Maybe you get a t-shirt that’s seven sizes too large. Whatever it is, you go home with something and the label thinks they’ve done their job promoting the album in question. The only problem is the sticker rarely gets stuck on anything other than a notebook, there’s no guarantee the CD will get listened to and nobody outside of an NFL lineman can legitimately wear the t-shirt. What’s a label to do? Get interesting. Over the years I’ve had a lot of really dope schwag hit my desk, here are some of my favorites.

Jake Lefco’s Dental Floss – Jake Lefco’s dental floss takes the idea that someone’s schwag must act as a promotional item to everyone and turns it on its head. Most labels want to give away stuff they can then see or hear in public. Jake, on the other hand, wants you to see his name every night when you floss your teeth before you go to bed. Don’t floss? Even better, because that floss will sit your medicine cabinet as a constant reminder of who Jake Lefco is (and of why your dentist appointments always seem to go so poorly). Jake Lefco is the first artist to ever hit me off with floss and I have to say I thought it was damned cool.

Potluck’s Blunts – California rap duo Potluck rap about weed, a lot, so rather than just hand out their stickers, or attempt to bomb neighborhoods with them, they made them just a little bit smaller than a Royal Blunt wrapper and stuck them on them before handing them out to potential listeners and mailing them out to writers. This was a stroke of genius. If a person is interested in smoking blunts they’re involved in weed culture and if they’re involved in weed culture they’re more than likely going to dig Potluck’s music. Potluck could have handed out album samplers and had half the people listen to them, earning them a few fans, but by handing out blunts with their sticker on the wrapper they targeted their promotional item and brought in a much larger percentage of fans and possible buyers than any sampler could have managed.

Defamation League’s Condoms – Now let me start this one out by saying I am not a fan of Defamation League’s music (and neither is my boy Matt over at RapReviews judging by his review of their album), I am, however, a fan of their promotional items. When I received their album in the mail not only did it come with the customary bio, but it also came (no pun intended) with two condoms that had perfectly sized clear stickers on them featuring the name of the group, faces of the group, and the catchy phrase “when the Jimmy’s too small to fit this, go bareback and risk it.” OK, so the message sucks, but it goes along with their lyrical content so in the end it makes sense. The condoms are hilarious, unexpected, and something that you instantly want to show to a friend. Again, brilliant promotional item.

Kung Faux’s Chopsticks – Last year I received a few Kung Faux DVD’s from a PR company and they came with, I kid you not, chopsticks. Had they been branded chopsticks it would have been supremely impressive, but as is the ancient eating tools falling out of the manila envelope caused enough of a “huh” moment to warrant me listing them here. How can a promotional tool work even when it doesn’t have the product’s name on it? When it has me calling up a friend to say “you won’t believe what the folks over at Kung Faux slipped into their press package.” It got me to call a friend and mention the name of the product it was promoting. Not bad for something that they probably bought by the case and then did nothing with other than stick in an envelope.

Those were only four examples, but there are tons of others out there. The size XXXXXL shirts need to be put on the shelf, it’s time to be innovative. Traditional ways of promoting albums can work, that’s what makes them traditional, but at the same time it’s the artists and companies that come up with interesting new ways of promotion that will catch our eye and once they have that our ears will be more open to hearing their music, as well. So, does your schwag stack up?


posted by Adam Bernard @ 8:04 AM  
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