“Swaaaaggg… Stuff. We. All. Get.” — Michael Scott, The Office

April 2, 2013

Anyone who watches The Office can’t help but relate to character Michael Scott’s enthusiasm over all the swag he receives at a Pennsylvania paper industry conference. Swag (noun. Loot – booty – spoil – plunder) is one of the great bonuses to attending any sort of conference, tradeshow or major event.

Here at Communica, I have had the opportunity to attend quite a few conferences and thus I’ve received all kinds of swag. I love free things and always collect conference swag with such enthusiasm that often swiftly fades the moment I get to the office. So it got me thinking – what is good swag and what is bad swag?

Below you will find my personal best and worst swag received. Is it merely junk destined for your office garbage can? Or is it an item that holds significant value? Read the list and let us know – the more swag-opinions the better.

Good Swag:

  1. Hand sanitizer. Conferences are a germ incubator. All those people in close confines, shaking hands, eating food, shaking more hands, eating more food. Discovering a small vial of hand sanitizer in my conference swagbag was one of my most pleasant surprises at a recent conference.
  2. Notebook and pen. Simple, easy, classic. Conferences are full of new ideas and great learning opportunities, but unless you can jot down those memories – what’s the point?
  3. Backpacks/bags/shoulderbags. Have I mentioned how much swag you get at conferences? What better promotional item than a vessel to carry all your swag in?  

Bad Swag:

  1. Candy/treats/chocolate. Don’t get me wrong, no office loves chocolate more than Communica Vancouver. But let’s be honest, the second most common activity at conferences besides networking is eating! The last thing you want is more tempting sugar. Save the sweets for the predictably decadent banquet dessert.
  2. Flashlight/whistle/mini speakers/bottle opener. These items seem great at first. But do I really need a mini flashlight? No. Instead these items are bright gimmicks that will only clutter your desk.
  3. Hats/toques/shirts. Free clothes sound appealing but when it comes down to it, you are unlikely to ever wear these items again. Unless you have a family member who relishes wearing these clothes (you know the one) or you need some new gym shirts, walk away from this swag option.

What do you think? Do you agree with my assessment of swag valuation? What are your best and worst swag experiences?

–Jessica Davies, Communica Advisor, Aboriginal Engagement

The umbrella is Communica swag — held by the author