PPAI Magazine April 2023

MEDIA.PPAI.ORG 04.23 IN THIS ISSUE PFAS: Chemical Dilemma p. 42 Supplier Stars p. 54 Driving Golf Sales p. 60 The Big Leap Small businesses break through in promo’s record year. pg. 66

“Do I really need 3 separate systems for my business?” One complete, fully integrated system. Nope. Requires computer, tablet, or smartphone with a modern, supported browser with internet access. Product images are for illustrative purposes only. © 2020 Essent. Essent, The Essent Logo and OrderTrax are registered trademarks and EssentOne, Compass, and SiteBuilder are trademarks of Essent Corporation. All other marks are held by their respective owners. essent.com/one 800-559-9959

4 From PPAI Make Music, Not Noise 8 Feedback Essentials 11 Creative Calendar 12 Good Taste Promo Products For A Festive Fourth 16 In Style Color Me Beautiful 20 Use Case Packable Promo Voices 26 Innovation Got Champions? 30 Your Business Hold On Tight 34 Responsibility Tour de Force 38 Solutions Sticky Situations Must Read 60 Promotional Products Work Driving Growth In Golf Community 76 PPPC Communiqué 78 Buzzworthy 81 Inside PPAI 88 New Members 93 Datebook 98 Perfect Promo CONTENTS 04.23 The Big Leap PPAI’s annual Distributor Sales Volume Estimate has officially determined 2022 to be a record year for promo. A big part of that is a reversal of a trend from 2021: Small businesses are back. 66 VOLUME 47, ISSUE 03 Supplier Stars These companies consistently delivered quality products and service that impressed their distributor partners, earning them top honors as this year’s PPAI Supplier Stars. 54 The Chemical Dilemma As regulators at the state and federal level pursue and enact legislation to limit the potential danger of PFAS chemicals, promo businesses need to navigate with finesse. 42 42 54 66 d1sk / Lotus_studio / onimate / Shutterstock.com PPAI • APRIL 2023 • 3

From PPAI Dale Denham, MAS+ President & CEO 04.23 Make Music, Not Noise UNSUBSCRIBE FROM EMAILS. Turn off notifications. Block out your schedule. By any means necessary, reduce your intake of noise – not music or talking, crying babies or the constant hum of an airplane engine. I’m talking about tasks, thoughts, distractions and messages. Between personal noise (family matters, finances, friends, the news, etc.) and business disruptions (emails, requests, meetings and to-dos) most of us are overwhelmed with constant interruption. It’s holding us back, we know it, and we don’t like it. Unfortunately, those of us in business tend to be the worst about creating noise for the very people we’re trying to please – our clients. It happens in virtually every industry, including ours. Promotional products themselves could hardly be considered noisy. They are noticed and hopefully appreciated, but almost never an annoyance or distraction. It’s ironic that some of us still find a way to be a nuisance to our clients. Marketing can be noisy, but making more racket does not necessarily mean you are heard. In fact, the more commotion you generate may cause you to be tuned out completely. And when you’re making noise right alongside others making noise, the more likely a buyer is to put in their earplugs. While cheap and fairly effective (when done well), email marketing is the noisiest and most abused medium of all. Too much email causes recipients to unsubscribe and miss all your messages – if their junk filter doesn’t block you first. The same is true for social media and other forms of advertising. Too much (especially if not engaging) and users will tune you out, keep scrolling or unfollow altogether. How many of us mute (if not skip altogether) TV commercial breaks as soon as they begin? Thanks a lot, Burger King, for getting “Whopper, Whopper, Whopper, Whopper” stuck in our heads. A noisy jingle is not a song. It is not music. The question for any marketer is how to make music, not noise. It starts with targeting your messages to the right audiences and reducing the frequency of messages, especially generic messages. Evaluate campaigns to ensure you have segmented the audience effectively. For example, PPAI may send a single mass email promoting our big June events, the North American Leadership Conference and Women’s Leadership Conference, to all members. We’ll then focus our efforts on previous attendees and those who fit the target market (women for WLC and typical leader titles for NALC). We’ll supplement with direct mail to those most likely to have interest, but without overwhelming them. And we’ll mix in display advertising and social media – hopefully just enough that the message is heard but doesn’t become noisy. We miss a few people this way, but in the long term, we keep people reading what we send. Of course, we also offer promotional products to our most loyal audience members, including event attendees, so NALC or WLC stay top of mind long after the events are over. Promo is music. In addition to reducing your incoming noise, I challenge you to reduce the noise that you and your clients generate. Marketing can be noisy, but making more racket does not necessarily mean you are heard. 4 • APRIL 2023 • PPAI

S&S Activewear Reno, Nevada 89506 800-523-2155 toll tree www.ssactivewear.com asi# 84358 Mission Imprintables San Diego, California 92154 800-480-0800 toll tree www.missionimprintables.com asi# 71781 McCreary’s Tees Phoenix, Arizona 85040 800-541-1141 toll free www.mccrearystees.com asi# 69885 SLC Activewear West Valley City, Utah 84119 888-557-0799 toll free www.slcactivewear.com S&S Activewear Fort Worth, Texas 76137 800-523-2155 toll free www.ssactivewear.com asi# 84358 Kati Sportcap & Bag Houston, Texas 77057 800-392-5559 toll free www.katisportcap.com asi# 64140 S&S Activewear Olathe, Kansas 66061 800-523-2155 toIl free www.ssactivewear.com asi# 84358 S&S Activewear Lockport, Illinois 60441 800-523-2155 toll free www.ssactivewear.com asi# 84358 S&S Activewear West Chester Township, Ohio 45011 800-523-2155 toll free www.ssactivewear.com asi# 84358 S&S Activewear McDonough, Georgia 30253 800-523-2155 toll free www.ssactivewear.com asi# 84358 Carolina Made Indian Trail, North Carolina 28079 800-222-1409 toll free www.carolinamade.com asi# 43993 S&S Activewear Pompano Beach, Florida 33069 800-523-2155 toll free www.ssactivewear.com asi# 84358 S&S Activewear Robbinsville, New Jersey 08691 800-523-2155 toll free www.ssactivewear.com asi# 84358 S&S Canada Burnaby, British Columbia, V3N 0B2 800-771-1600 toll free en-ca.ssactivewear.com asi# 90703 S&S Canada Calgary, Alberta, T3J 2G2 800-771-1600 toll free en-ca.ssactivewear.com asi# 90703 S&S Canada Woodbridge, Ontario, L4H 4W9 800-771-1600 toll free en-ca.ssactivewear.com asi# 90703 Sportsman Cap & Bag Support Team 913-541-0901 info@headwear.com WHERE TO BUY Tess Hattie Cassie Janet Josie Charlie Daisy 1. Elude™ – Patented* makeup resistant, wicking and breathable sweatband. 2. Evolve™ – Patented** concealable ponytail opening. 3. Smaller, lightweight visors. 4. Perfectly sized for a woman’s head. 5. Easy, snag-free closures. *Patent #US-2023-0035442-A1 ** Patent #US-2023-0031337-A1 How We’re Different See our full collection at infinityforher.com Trend Alert! Hat shown above: Charlie - Snow Leopard on White According to sources at MAGIC Fashion Tradeshow in Las Vegas, baseball caps are trending for women. They’ve been a staple for men, but now that we’ve engineered one just for women with our patented features, it’s time to sell to the other half of the population! For additional information email info@headwear.com

PPAI® PUBLISHER & EDITOR-IN-CHIEF Josh Ellis JoshE@ppai.org DEPUTY EDITOR Rob Phillips RobP@ppai.org SENIOR DIGITAL EDITOR James Khattak JamesK@ppai.org NEWS EDITOR Jonny Auping JonnyA@ppai.org ASSOCIATE EDITORS Kristina Valdez KristinaV@ppai.org Rachel Zoch RachelZ@ppai.org RESEARCH MANAGER Robert Fitzpatrick RobertF@ppai.org ART DIRECTION SPARK Publications SPARKpublications.com 704-844-6080 ADVERTISING MANAGEMENT ACCOUNT MANAGERS Connie Brazil 972-258-3064 ConnieB@ppai.org Taylor Coward 972-258-3033 TaylorC@ppai.org Heather Mangold 972-258-3067 HeatherM@ppai.org Sandy Mendoza 972-258-3019 SandyM@ppai.org ADVERTISING CONTACT Amy Weisman 972-258-3080 AmyW@ppai.org PRESIDENT & CEO Dale Denham, MAS+ 888-I-AM-PPAI DIRECTOR OF BUSINESS DEVELOPMENT Lindsey Davis, MAS SENIOR VICE PRESIDENT Alan Peterson DIRECTOR OF FINANCE Brigitte Rousseau, CPA, MBA VICE PRESIDENT, REVENUE AND EXPOSITIONS Ellen Tucker, MAS, CAE DIRECTOR OF INFORMATION TECHNOLOGY Paul Elfstrom DIRECTOR OF MEMBER ENGAGEMENT Anne Stone, MAS, CAE DIRECTOR OF MARKETING Keith Vincent BOARD OFFICERS CHAIR OF THE BOARD Kevin Walsh, CAS Showdown Displays IMMEDIATE PAST CHAIR Dawn Olds, MAS HALO CHAIR-ELECT OF THE BOARD Andrew Spellman, CAS Therabody VICE CHAIR, FINANCE SERVICES Denise Taschereau Fairware BOARD MEMBERS TERM EXPIRING 2024 Tom Goos, MAS Image Source AT-LARGE DIRECTOR TERM EXPIRING 2024 Melissa Ralston, Koozie Group TERMS EXPIRING 2025 Noah Lapine Lapine Associates Andrew Spellman, CAS Therabody TERMS EXPIRING 2026 Chris Anderson HPG Denise Taschereau Fairware TERMS EXPIRING 2027 Dan Pantano alphabroder | Prime Line Joshua White BAMKO REGIONAL RELATIONS COMMITTEE DELEGATE TERM EXPIRING 2027 Kara Keister, MAS Social Good Promotions PPAI HEADQUARTERS 3125 Skyway Circle North, Irving, Texas 75038-3526 Phone: 888-IAM-PPAI (426-7724) www.ppai.org, pubs.ppai.org READER RESOURCES SUBSCRIBE TO PPAI MAGAZINE: Subscribe online at pubs.ppai.org or send your name, title, company name and mailing address, along with phone and fax, to PPB Subscriptions, 3125 Skyway Circle North, Irving, Texas 75038. Or phone in your subscription to 972-258-3019. Include payment with your order. Visa, MasterCard and American Express are accepted, along with checks. Additional member subscriptions are $58 for PPAI member companies (U.S.), $70 (Canada and Mexico) and $75 (international). Nonmember subscriptions are $72 (U.S.), $82 (Canada and Mexico) and $92 (international). Please allow four to six weeks for start of subscription. ADVERTISE IN PPAI MAGAZINE: Download a media kit with rates and specs for all PPAI print and digital publications at media.ppai.org, or call 972-258-3019 or email mediasales@ppai.org. WRITE FOR PPAI MAGAZINE: The magazine regularly accepts articles from both professional writers and industry experts – like yourself. Find out everything you need to know about submitting an article or an idea by reading PPAI’s Writer’s Guidelines available at media.ppai.org/submit-content. Promotional Products Association International 6 • APRIL 2023 • PPAI

Send feedback on articles in PPAI Magazine or opinions on industry issues to JamesK@ppai.org. Feedback Inspiring / Shutterstock.com 04.23 Promo Pros Defend Industry In The Virginia Statehouse Following reports that the Virginia House of Delegates was considering a bill that would prohibit state agencies from purchasing promotional products, two members of the Virginia Promotional Products Association, Todd Mawyer, CAS, CEO of TK Promotions, and Jeanne Walls, MAS, president of JWalls Ink!, leveraged their connections at the statehouse to successfully lobby against the proposal. I am very proud to be associated with both Jeanne and Todd and their passion and ability to communicate the importance of the industry with such eloquence. Lisa Bibb, MAS Executive Director Virginia Promotional Products Association Well done, Jeanne and Todd! As we learned at all those L.E.A.D. meetings in D.C., a lot of legislators have no idea about the value promotional products bring to every organization that uses them. Unfortunately, many politicians see cutting promotional products as a “victimless” budget cut that won’t get a lot of blowback from the public. Fantastic job swooping into action to educate these folks. Thanks for defending our industry. Stay vigilant! Scott Schoenbauer General Manager Alumicolor Fort Collins, Colorado PPAI 111298, S3 The Noncompete Conundrum The Federal Trade Commission has proposed a new rule that would ban employers from imposing noncompete clauses on their workers. Whether or not the rule goes into effect, either as currently written or after following various revisions, the proposal has some industry members reflecting on their own experiences with such clauses. We have never required noncompetes and have a mutually respectful separation policy. Our agreement has three simple terms: No. 1, reps can take their personally won accounts with them, and No. 2, no one will call on them as long as, No. 3, they don’t call on any of their now-former sales colleagues’ accounts. I believe that it is up to me to create a compelling, attractive place to work, and if I don’t, that’s my bad. David Sears Founder and CEO PrintResource Westborough, Pennsylvania PPAI 699986, D3 This is a great idea, with some governance needed. I, for one, am currently under a highly restrictive noncompete. In my case, and in others like mine, I would agree to this lifting. However, how does a company protect its IP and other trade secrets? This is why I feel heavy scrutiny needs to take place. There must be some protections for employers as well. Employers who are abusers should be penalized heavily, but fairness on both sides is imperative. Cliff Quicksell, MAS+ President and CEO Cliff Quicksell Associates Walkersville, Maryland PPAI 140922 Excellent work, Jeanne and Todd! A huge thank you for acting on all our behalf to intercept this damaging piece of legislation in the nick of time. We owe you a debt of gratitude. Educating our legislators and their staff is so important in the prevention of such misguided decisions. Kevin Wilkins Co-owner Swag City Williamsburg, Virginia Great job! While I am a member of SAAGNY, I’m sure your situation will arise in other regions of the country. Your fortitude is to be congratulated. Irwin Kotcher Vice President Merri Moments. Lynbrook, New York 8 • APRIL 2023 • PPAI

PROMOTIONAL PRODUCTS TO BE UNIVERSALLY VALUED Essentials 04.23 IN STYLE Color Me Beautiful page 16 CREATIVE CALENDAR p. 11 GOOD TASTE p. 12 USE CASE p. 20 ShotPrime Studio / Shutterstock.com Trending fashion colors run the gamut from earth tones to vivid hues, with pastels, blues and greens as standouts for this year. PPAI • APRIL 2023 • 9

If this calendar is helpful or if you have ideas for ways that we can better provide this information, email the editors at magazine@ppai.org Creative Calendar | Essentials Exceptional Promotions SPECIAL OBSERVANCES CALL FOR Use these special occasions to ignite your imagination for relevant – and distinct – client promotions. Compiled by Kristina Valdez NATIONAL COMFORT MONTH 7 NATIONAL TOURISM DAY 11 NATIONAL TECHNOLOGY DAY 6 NATIONAL EYEWEAR DAY 16 NATIONAL FUDGE DAY Product idea: This metal tin is stuffed with chocolatey fudge brownies. The treat comes with six individually wrapped double chocolate fudge Mrs. Fields brownies. It’s the perfect reward for a hard day’s work. NC Custom / PPAI 111662, S7 www.chocolateinn.com July NATIONAL GRILLING MONTH 6 NATIONAL FRIED CHICKEN DAY 20 NATIONAL MOON DAY 28 NATIONAL WATERPARK DAY Product idea: The CLAM cooler has everything you need to keep the party going all day. This branded cooler has a 100% fully customizable decal on the cooler’s lid. It holds up to 58 12-ounce cans and keeps ice for up to three days. It’s leak-proof for all-day floating and features a quick access lid. SOCK101 / PPAI 625402, S6 www.sock101.com May 25 NATIONAL WINE DAY 23 NATIONAL HYDRATION DAY June NATIONAL CAMPING MONTH Product idea: The six-piece Carignan Electric Wine Set is a perfect home gift for any occasion. This six-in-one wine set includes one electric corkscrew wine opener, one wine aerator pourer, one seal cutter, two vacuum stoppers and a base for storage. The wine aerator pourer enhances the taste of the wine, while the vacuum stoppers help to preserve the wine much longer than a standard bottle stopper. Logomark / PPAI 110898, S11 / www.logomark.com PPAI • APRIL 2023 • 11

Essentials | Good Taste THE FOURTH OF JULY brings to mind parades, hot dogs, fireworks and flags. It’s a great time to gather and celebrate with friends and neighbors. Whether it’s a company barbecue or a community festival, promo products can be the icing on the cake – you know the one, with blueberries and strawberries in a starsand-stripes pattern on top. Rhonda Campagna, president of Georgia-based distributor STG Marketing, lives in a large neighborhood that hosts a huge Independence Day bash with live music. To help support the event, local businesses sponsor the event, and people can reserve tables for a fee and participate in a table decorating contest for prizes. “As far as promo, every kid will get a colored wristband that lights up, because that is the coolest thing for kids when it gets dark,” says Campagna. Promo Products For A Festive Fourth Get your clients’ brands in people’s hands on Independence Day with thoughtful promo picks. By Rachel Zoch InnovativeImages / Wenika Lunsia / Shutterstock.com 12 • APRIL 2023 • PPAI

Good Taste | Essentials Highlight your client’s brand with this lightup LED Tube Bracelet, perfect for nighttime events like watching fireworks. One color and one location imprint. Complies with CPSIA. WOWLine / PPAI 112440, S4 / www.wowline.com Stadium cups and coolies are also popular items, both during the event and for ongoing use. Campagna says these promo picks can be both cost-effective and simple to set up, especially with a supplier that offers ready-touse art so you and your clients don’t have to start from scratch on the design. Perfect for bottles and narrow cans, the 12oz. Slim Seltzer Coolie will keep any drink cool and is great for advertising at outdoor events. Made in the USA and available in 25 colors. BEST Promotions USA /PPAI 461689, S4 www.bestpromotionsusa.com Keep partygoers hydrated with refillable 12-oz. Stadium Cups. These reusable cups are made of recyclable, dishwashersafe polypropylene. Optional straw lid available at additional charge. Available in 13 colors, including red, royal blue, navy blue and white. Garyline / PPAI 112004, S10 / www.garyline.com Hats and T-shirts also make great giveaways for community events and holidays. Adding your clients’ brands to these wearable items turns recipients into walking billboards, which is especially effective when you add social media into the mix (think hashtags and QR codes). “We encourage everyone in the group to take photos of their families, take photos of the kids playing, doing fun things,” Campagna says, “and then to post them on our Facebook group to build that sense of unity and camaraderie among all of our friends and family and neighbors.” Underline your client’s brand with the USA Bottom Wave Short Sleeve T-Shirt, handdyed in Montana and one of more than a dozen red-white-and-blue designs available. “Every tie dye comes out just a little bit different, which is cool,” says Campagna. Kerr’s Cotton Creations / PPAI 313486, S2 www.kerrscotton.com Whether it’s a company barbecue or a community festival, promo products can be the icing on the cake.

Essentials | Good Taste Keep your client’s message on top with a Contrast Front Brushed Velcro Lowstyle Cap. This form-fitting, structured baseball cap with Velcro closure is made in the USA by union workers. Available in combinations of 15 colors (red/navy shown). Unionwear / PPAI 111926, S1 www.unionspecialties.com Here are a few more promo products to keep the patriotic party going: The 25-quart Bison Cooler ice chest can be carried by one person and holds up to 21 12-oz. cans or 32 lbs. of ice. Features include insulated walls, a silicone gasket, drain plug, rope handles, skidpreventing rubber feet and a lockable lid. Made in the USA. Bison Coolers PPAI 697899, S3 www.bisoncoolers.com No July Fourth celebration is complete without a few red, white and blue stars. Put a little sweetness – and your client’s brand – in everyone’s hand with a Mini Tube with Starzmania non-melt candy. The 4-inch tube is filled to the brim and perfect for giving out at festivals. NC Custom / PPAI 111662, S7 nccustom.com “We encourage everyone in the group to take photos of their families, take photos of the kids playing, doing fun things, and then to post them on our Facebook group to build that sense of unity and camaraderie among all of our friends and family and neighbors.” —Rhonda Campagna 14 • APRIL 2023 • PPAI

Good Taste | Essentials Did someone say apple pie? This 9.5-inch Serrated Pie Server can be used year-round for pizzas, quiches, cakes and anything else that’s cut into wedges for serving. Made in the USA and backed by a lifetime guarantee. American Made Cutlery PPAI 111255, S4 www.americanmadecutlery.com Hold snacks and condiments at your fingertips in the twocompartment Dip-It Snack Bowl. It’s washable, reusable and perfect for fruits and vegetables, chips and salsa, vegetables and dips, nachos and cheese or fries and ketchup. Evans Manufacturing PPAI 110747, S11 www.evans-mfg.com PPAI: 111248 | ASI: 35375 | SAGE: 50327 | UPIC: ACCENTS | DC: 101273 888.287.7883 www.americanaccents.com Made & Printed in the USA Quick Turn Arounds Low Minimums • Made from renewable resources • 170+ stock shapes available • 50 piece minimums • Full color digital imprint • White high-density pulpboard • 35/55/80 pt. thicknesses Scan for more info! PULPBOARD COASTERS S ck & Cus m Shaped Submit your own shape! PPAI • APRIL 2023 • 15

Essentials | In Style Color Me Beautiful Trending fashion colors run the gamut from earth tones to vivid hues, with pastels, blues and greens as standouts for this year. By Rachel Zoch FASHION TRENDS, INCLUDING COLOR, COME AND GO, but most garments meant for corporate apparel or promotional purposes tend toward the tried-and-true neutrals: black, white, navy, gray. But bold color choices can make your brand stand out, says Carissa Richmond, director of national sales with Los Angeles-based supplier Bella+Canvas. “We’ve realized that 70 to 80% of buying decisions are based on color alone,” she says, “so having the right color is key.” Richmond adds that although many promo customers initially look for blanks in neutrals or classic red or blue, they are often drawn to other colors once they see what’s available. “We’re seeing that a lot of customers are gravitating towards colors that differentiate their offering,” she says. “… A lot of them realize that if they’re going to add a color that none of their competitors have, then that really differentiates their offering and helps continue to grow their brand.” The color experts at Pantone have highlighted a variety of colors for 2023. Well ahead of unveiling Viva Magenta, its 2023 Color of the Year, Pantone released a color palette for New York Fashion Week in September 2022. The collection of 10 mostly bright hues for spring and summer includes vivid red, pink and orange, as well as classic and lime green, plus two calming, grayish blues. To complement these cheery hues, Pantone also provided five “core classics” with a more subdued tone, including pastel pink and blue and earthy shades of gray, green and brown. Pale Dogwood PASTEL Sharp Green GREEN Blue Atoll BLUE ShotPrime Studio / Shutterstock.com 16 • APRIL 2023 • PPAI

In Style | Essentials If magenta is too strong, consider ballet pink or an even lighter pastel. This Midweight Hooded Sweatshirt comes in 37 colors (shown in light pink) and sizes XS- 5X. Features a jersey lined hood, tearaway label and kangaroo pocket. S&S Activewear / PPAI 256121, S12 / www.ssactivewear.com Go with light gray for a modern look. This men’s Old Navy Dynamic Fleece Full-Zip Hoodie features contrasting details at the zippers, cuffs and pockets. It comes in three colors (shown in light heather) and sizes XS-3X. (Women’s companion black only.) Vantage Apparel / PPAI 113235, S10 / www.vantageapparel.com 1. Pastels Never Fade Away Fashionistas are all in for pastels. Take the runway reporting of Anna LaPlaca for Who What Wear, who lists “icy pastels” and gray (“the new It neutral color”) among the colors featured most frequently by designers. “Shades of periwinkle, lavender, mint, and light pink appeared watered down and barely there,” she writes. “I’m especially keen on trying this trend, as I just know it will play well with my wardrobe of more classic neutrals.” Pastels can be a great way to add some variety to corporate apparel programs for a fresh but timeless look, and beige has been popping up on red carpets as a neutral but fashion-forward counterpoint to the metallics and glam normally associated with celebrity events. Ballerina PASTEL Nimbus Cloud PASTEL PPAI • APRIL 2023 • 17

Blues from barely-there pastel to deep, dark navy are trending, especially bright turquoise hues. This OGIO Ladies Pulse Dolman Tee comes in four colors (shown in electric blue) and sizes XS-4X. Made of breathable 100% polyester with stay-cool wicking technology. SanMar / PPAI 110788, S16 / www.sanmar.com This unisex Pack-N-Go Pullover comes in 16 colors, including four shades of blue (shown in Carolina blue). The lightweight, water-resistant jacket folds into its own front pouch pocket with zipper closure and self-fabric loop for easy packing on the go. Charles River Apparel / PPAI 111644, S10 /www.charlesriverapparel.com Essentials | In Style 2. Dive In The Deep End With Blue Hues LaPlaca also notes that aquamarine, a bold shade between green and blue, made a splash in spring/ summer collections: “I can confidently say that there’s a new bold It color in town, and it couldn’t be any fresher,” she writes. “Shades of aqua, turquoise, and cerulean are quickly gaining traction.” A perennial classic, denim has surged in popularity in the past year, and a selection of blues provides denim-like options for T-shirts and other garments. Glam.com’s Zoe Nolz reports that shades of blue dominated spring 2023 collections, from “unconventional denim ensembles, ultra-light blue pieces, and even a couple of brighter blue hues” from Burberry to “bold cobalt blue outfits” from Christian Siriano. “Therefore, the hue won’t be limited to a single tint, shade, or saturation in spring 2023,” she writes, “light, bright, dark, denim, and subtle blues should all be trendy.” Richmond agrees: “You really can’t go wrong with a shade of blue.” Electric Blue Lemonade BLUE Carolina Blue BLUE 18 • APRIL 2023 • PPAI

3. Now It’s Easy To Be Green Green, another standout on spring/summer runways, appeared widely in retail and street style in 2022 and continues to grow in popularity. PureWow’s Abby Hepworth says green is the “new top dog” in fashion and extols its versatility: “You can opt for essentially whatever shade you like best and feel confident you’ll fit right in.” Given strong sales for green in 2022, Richmond is also excited about green this year, especially Pine, a muted, earthy hue Bella+Canvas adopted as part of its group of “vintage” colors. These earthy hues offer a counterpoint to bright, Y2K candy colors and give a garment the appearance of having been washed and worn for years, suggesting nostalgia, comfort – and staying power. “Washes are very popular in our industry,” she adds, “so this kind of achieves that look without actually having a wash process added to it.” Green continues to grow in popularity, from pale mint to dark forest. This 100% cotton Unisex Jersey Short Sleeve Tee comes in a whopping 86 colors, including 10+ greens (shown in pine), and sizes XS-5X. BELLA + CANVAS / PPAI 304892, S6 / www.bellacanvas.com This Ladies’ Cool & Dry Mesh Piqué Polo comes in 23 colors, including four shades of green (shown in jade), and sizes S-3X. The moisture-wicking fabric offers UV protection. Men’s companion available. alphabroder Prime Line / PPAI 156993, S16 / www.alphabroder.com In Style | Essentials Pine GREEN Jade Turquoise GREEN PPAI • APRIL 2023 • 19

Essentials | Use Case TRAVEL TECH Packable Promo Industry pros reveal the products they use, the products they want and the products they would suggest as on-the-go tech and travel essentials. Compiled by Kristina Valdez R. RENÉE JONES, MAS Founder/CEO A Creative Touch PPAI 331634, D3 Wilmington, North Carolina JONES FAITHFULLY uses an airplane pocket. “I never leave home without my airplane pocket. I love it because I can slide it over the seatback tray, and while the tray is in the up position, I have several pockets that I can store things like my iPad, water bottle, etc. … The last time I flew, the flight attendants raved about it. It’s lightweight, and there are multiple imprint options.” The Ionshield Airplane Pocket is a stretchable cover for airplane tray tables and features four expandable pockets with plenty of room to hold a laptop computer, water bottle, phone, eyeglasses and much more. It is reusable, washable and durable. There is no need to touch the tray table because the pocket covers both sides of the tray, giving you a clean surface to eat and work on. High Caliber Line / PPAI 205801, S10 www.highcaliberline.com CRAIG WEISS VP of Sales and Marketing Initial Impression PPAI 102875, D5 San Diego, California Weiss faithfully uses a foldable phone holder. “As someone who travels extensively for both work and pleasure, I use several promo items on my travels, from a thermal water bottle to hang off my laptop bag to a travel case to hold all my chargers and cables, as well as a high-capacity power bank. My most prized possession is my Easel foldable phone holder so I can use my phone as my alarm clock.” Pixel-Shot / Shutterstock.com 20 • APRIL 2023 • PPAI

Use Case | Essentials This durable silicone phone stand easily adjusts to change the viewing angle. Users can extend the stand to change the height of the phone stand, it folds for easy packing and travel, and it fits most smartphones vertically or horizontally. Ariel Premium Supply / PPAI 161650, S11 www.arielpremium.com Weiss wants to try an OGIO laptop bag. “I’m trying to find an excuse to get a new OGIO laptop bag. I don’t love the bag I use, but I don’t have an excuse to get a new one.” This OGIO Command Messenger makes getting through the airport easier. It has an interior zippered pocket on the front flap for easy decoration access and user organization, plus a top handle for easy grab and a large main compartment with a sleeve that fits most 15-inch laptops. The detachable, adjustable and padded shoulder strap also has a zippered pocket for quick access to small items. Plus, there’s a luggage trolley pass-through on the back. SanMar / PPAI 110788, S16 / www.sanmar.com/ Weiss would suggest a high-capacity power bank. “If it’s something I use, it is something I recommend – the Easel phone stand if they have a smaller budget, up to a rapid charge/high-capacity power bank if they want something higher-end. I have a client that brings in their salespeople and dealers in from all over the country. They did an amazing power bank, and it was a huge hit.” Snap into the future with the latest technology from Apple. The MagSafe 10,000 mAh Power Bank is capable of magnetically attaching to the back of iPhones 12s and 13s right out of the box. Android and older iPhone users can use the included magnetic ring to quickly make their phone MagSafe compatible. The power bank also includes fast USB and Type C ports for users who prefer to use cables instead of Qi charging. Tomax / PPAI 113176, S6 / www.tomaxusa.com PPAI • APRIL 2023 • 21

RYAN PAULES Owner/Chief Swag Officer Radar Promotions PPAI 500797, D3 West Hills, California Paules faithfully uses a double-walled water bottle. “[I use it] to stay hydrated and for easy fill-up at airport water stations. It won’t leak or sweat in my bag. … My No.1 top favorite thing to do when traveling, especially when traveling east/ahead in time zones is waking up inordinately early (due to the time change and my native PST schedule) on the first morning and walking to the nearest independent coffee shop that I’ve never heard of.” This vacuum-insulated water bottle will keep up to 20 ounces of liquids cold or hot longer on the go than non-insulated bottles. The convenient twist-off cap has a rubber grip and carrying handle, and the copper lining keeps drinks cold for up to 24 hours or hot for up to 12 hours. The durable powder-coated exterior can be printed or laser engraved. High Caliber Line PPAI 205801, S10 www.highcaliberline.com When traveling, Paules always buys plush toys. “My kids are 8 and 9. While they understand a lot about what our company does, Dad is still gone for two to five days at a time, and they miss me. One deal we made last year was that I would buy them both a stuffed animal of the state’s animal that I visited on that trip. They recently both got a bighorn sheep for a trip to Nevada.” Essentials | Use Case PPAI: 111248 | ASI: 35375 | SAGE: 50327 | UPIC: ACCENTS | DC: 101273 Made & Printed in the USA Quick Turn Arounds Low Minimums www.americanaccents.com | 888.287.7883 Scan for pricing! •Heavyweight single ply material •Biodegradable •Made from renewable resources •Metallic and neon ink colors oƒered at no extra cost •Free PMS matching •Multiple print methods available 50 piece minimums! ALMOST LINEN™ NAPKINS Looks and feels like real linen! 22 • APRIL 2023 • PPAI

This Shorties plush toy is perfect for all ages. A variety of styles are available, from unicorn to llama (shown), and IMAGEN Brands has committed to donate 1% of sales on every stock plush order referencing code PLUSHGB22 to the service dogs nonprofit 4 Paws for Ability. IMAGEN Brands PPAI 114197, S10 www.imagenbrands.com Use Case | Essentials Paules would suggest high-quality outerwear to keeps recipients warm and comfortable in various climates. “Regional memberships and events and personally traveling to them is going to continue to be one of several prongs of our company’s attack plan on bringing the wide world of the promotional products industry to our clients in new, fresh and unique ways.” Staying warm while on the go is easy with this Packable Puffy Jacket. Thanks to a water-repellent fabric coating and finish, wearers can remain comfortable no matter where the day takes them. The jacket includes polyfill insulation, an interior storm flap with chin guard and a zippered chest pocket. SanMar PPAI 110788, S16 www.sanmar.com PPAI • APRIL 2023 • 23

IDEAS TO ADVANCE THE MARKETPLACE Voices 04.23 YOUR BUSINESS page 30 INNOVATION p. 26 SOLUTIONS p. 38 HOLD ON TIGHT During times of economic worry, promo businesses can best persevere by being thoughtful and trusted partners for their clients. Responsibility Tour De Force p. 34 PPAI • APRIL 2023 • 25 Hermin / Shutterstock.com

Voices | Innovation anttoniart / Deemerwha studio / Shutterstock.com LET’S TALK TECH without the techy talk. Sometimes the problems we face outside of the digital sphere – like in our personal lives – are the same things that cause hiccups in an innovation project. There’s often a lesson to be learned for any company pushing digital transformation. Here’s an example of how the same human nature at play all around us coincides with a major challenge for many tech initiatives: I was aiming for a Mother of the Year award recently when I decided to switch to a healthier milk choice for my kids, ages 8 through 18. Days went by and no one touched the new milk, so I decided to ask why. I started with the youngest, who told me that the oldest said it was gross. My middle son, who’s a football player, said the oldest told him that the new milk doesn’t have enough vitamin D to help grow his muscles. I finally checked in with my 18-year-old. His response was, “It looked different from the milk you usually buy, so I didn’t even try it.” Anyone who has tried to lead a wide-scale Got Champions? Any digital transformation initiative needs internal advocates. Here’s how to create them within the ranks of your company. by Tanaisha Dunbarger 26 • APRIL 2023 • PPAI

Innovation | Voices PPAI: 111248 | ASI: 35375 | SAGE: 50327 | UPIC: ACCENTS | DC: 101273 Made & Printed in the USA Quick Turn Arounds Low Minimums www.americanaccents.com | 888.287.7883 Scan for pricing! •170+ stock shapes available •Custom shapes available •Digitally die cut; no additional fee •Available with or without handle •Made from 3mm white, rigid, PVC •Digitally printed with 4-Color process 50 piece minimums! RALLY FANS Handleless Rally Fan Handled Rally Fan digital transformation initiative in an organization understands the point by now. It’s about change management. What I would call at work a “change readiness assessment” was clearly missed, making project Healthier Milk Choice a bust. As you see in my home life example, it’s very easy for a single influential detractor to sway opinions around them, and a lot of times they have little reason besides the fact that the new system is a little different from what they’re used to. People will also latch onto stories based on what they perceive to be happening if they are not informed; my football player wouldn’t believe that nonfat milk actually contains more protein than whole milk. This year’s Mother of the Year must be a better communicator. When it comes to any digital transformation project, a very clear and intentional organizational communication strategy will need to be established in the early planning stages. It doesn’t matter if your goal is to consolidate systems to reduce your When it comes to any digital transformation project, a very clear and intentional organizational communication strategy will need to be established in the early planning stages. PPAI • APRIL 2023 • 27

Innovation | Voices technology footprint, clean up master data, security and compliance, userfriendly interfaces and the list goes on. The one thing that could negate the entire story of a successful digital transformation – and is not often enough addressed by leadership early on – is end users’ engagement and acceptance, which all rolls up to change management. There are three key components to getting this part right: communication, involvement and advocacy. Who knows more about the day-to-day business processes than the users? Keeping that in mind, it is essential that we don’t lose sight of the fact that introducing new technologies means that we are changing the way they work. From an IT perspective, involving them in the initial planning phase may be viewed as premature or even an inconvenience to them. But in the long run, they’ll be glad they were included: No one wants to be the last to know, or to feel like a huge change was dumped on them without any say in the matter. The goal should be that users are not only informed, but also vested in the system and the outcome. This evolution happens organically when the user feels that their voice is being heard and their input is considered as decisions are being made. Often, the things that are most important to our users and what they really want are very different than what IT perceives. Now that you have drawn in the users through meaningful communication and involvement, it’s time for them to be ambassadors and champions who spread the good word of the initiative. They will play a key role in user acceptance across the organization. This cannot be accomplished by the IT team controlling the narrative with formulated messaging. Instead, consider that the way users work truly could be changing drastically with the implementation of a new system. They may even feel that their engagement in the project is only helping themselves out of a job, as they recognize that their timeconsuming usual tasks are being automated or streamlined, and that new skillsets may be required in their positions. This is why upscaling the skills of the workforce should be baked into the early planning phase. Identify what new skillsets are needed and formulate a plan to invest in the training. It is important to communicate this plan with the ambassadors and champions to set clear expectations that they are not only essential to the success of the project, but also the success of the ongoing business. In the end, any digital transformation project of magnitude is going to face some resistance. That’s why it’s important to cultivate a partnership with the end users and business areas they represent. This will enable a smoother path to acceptance and buy-in. Dunbarger is a business systems analyst at PPAI. Who knows more about the dayto-day business processes than the users? Keeping that in mind, it is essential that we don’t lose sight of the fact that introducing new technologies means that we are changing the way they work. Want all of our best digital transformation articles delivered straight to your inbox? Visit media.ppai. org/subscribe to sign up for PPAI Newslink, and you’ll also receive Innovation Monthly emails. PPAI • APRIL 2023 • 29 anttoniart Foxys Graphic / Shutterstock.com

Voices | Your Business LATELY, I’VE BEEN THINKING a lot about 2009 – not about the balloon boy hoax, or Kayne West (it was his name at the time!) showing up Taylor Swift at the VMAs, but about my first “official” year working in the promotional products industry. It also happened to be the last time a recession changed our approach to sales and advertising. As we navigate through another uncertain time and fears of a possible recession grow, it is easy to wonder how you and your business can thrive, let alone capitalize, during such a time. It may seem counterintuitive, but an economic downturn creates a unique opportunity for promotional products to cut through the clutter, make an impact and create a meaningful difference in the bottom line of any company or individual salesperson. Just make sure your clients keep the best strategies in mind and that your treat them the right way. Hold On Tight During times of economic worry, promo businesses can best persevere by being thoughtful and trusted partners for their clients. by Lindsey Davis, MAS Even as industry professionals, we all have that great tumbler we keep on our desk, that bag we always take to the airport and that pen we threaten others never to steal. 200dgr / Hermin / Shutterstock.com 30 • APRIL 2023 • PPAI

Your Business | Voices Make It Memorable Take the time to do something special. When done right, promo can be memorable, personal and highly effective. Let’s keep this between us, but when done wrong, promo can also be careless and forgettable. Even as industry professionals, we all have that great tumbler we keep on our desk, that bag we always take to the airport and that pen we threaten others never to steal. But when a sales opportunity arises, economic insecurity can make us momentarily forget what makes promotional products so special. Keep these tips top of mind when considering your client’s next campaign: 1. Ask more questions. It’s easy to think you are asking enough, but you are probably asking less than you think. Come up with a few mustasks to deepen your conversations about projects. My personal favorite is, “How do you measure success?” And when I’m really not getting anywhere, a simple, “Tell more about…” or “Help me understand…” will get or keep them talking. 2. Shop and design with the end-user recipient (not the buyer client) in mind. Ultimately, the effectiveness of the product comes down to retention. Emphasize the importance of usefulness, quality and personal connection. Consider Merch Stores Help your clients embrace the idea of a merch store – online or in-person – and give them a new revenue channel that also promotes their company. People who purchase merch are also brand advocates. They become walking billboards and referrals for a company, creating even more revenue opportunities after the product is sold. Keep in mind a few key drivers of successful merch stores: 1. Have a wide range of products and price points. Incorporate items like apparel, technology, personal care, drinkware and bags to make sure the products work their way into the buyer’s life in their home, office or pockets. 2. Keep the design top of mind. Some buyers will love a giant imprint bragging about their inclusion in your community. Some will prefer a more subtle option like tone-on-tone or a simple design. You should be prepared to meet both of these needs. Promotional Products Work In Any Economy Surveyed consumers say that, in times of recession or economic hardship, promotional gifts stand out as a sign of brand value and show that employers care about their workers. 83% Would experience strengthened loyalty to a brand they currently shop with that gave a promotional product. 73% Are more likely to buy from a company that gave them a promotional product that they kept. Unrelated to pay or work schedule, thoughtful gifts are preferred as a way for an employer to show they care, more than: • Discussing career • Recognition on social media • Planning a social event • Educational conferences –PPAI Research People who purchase merch are also brand advocates. They become walking billboards and referrals for a company, creating even more revenue opportunities after the product is sold. PPAI • APRIL 2023 • 31

Your Business | Voices PPAI/582106 SAGE/50398 No Minimums FREE SETUP 18 Kit Styles on Sale from Basic to Premium! Display Kit EQP Sale! $670(C) Complete Banner Wall Kit 5’ x 8’ Banner Wall 6’ Table Cover 12’ Feather Flag Full Color Imprint $1,599(C) Complete Premium Tent Kit 10’ x 10’ Steel Frame 10’ Back Wall Side Walls 6’ Table Cover Two 12’ Feather Flags Full Color Imprint $793(C) Complete Basic Tent Kit 10’ x 10’ Steel Frame 6’ Table Cover Full Color Imprint Go To DiscountMarketingProducts.com to see all Sale Display Kits Premium Polyester Materials 2 Side Imprint on Feather Flags Focus On Appreciation During times of economic turbulence, customer retention becomes even more important. Building and maintaining brand loyalty will likely be a top priority for all of your clients. Help them achieve this goal through marketing plans with a focus on appreciation, with these ideas: 1. Make gifting part of their strategy. Employees, vendors, customers and prospects are all target audiences for appreciation marketing. Creating a positive connection with a relevant, personal and well-timed promotional product can make all the difference. 2. Leverage personalization to make the item even more special by putting their name on it. The extra thought counts. Finally, here’s another thing to remember as you work to navigate hard economic times, whether they come years from now, later in 2023 or if they’re already upon us by the time this article is published: Your clients and the end users are very likely going through it on some level, too. We know what that means: Tighter budgets, difficult decisions and the general insecurity of not knowing where the economic bottom is or how long it’ll take to build back up. The tips above are designed not to squeeze out a client’s last penny, but to show you’re an empathetic partner to them and perhaps that they are the same for their own clients or employees. We’ll all get through it together. Davis is the director of business development at PPAI. These tips are designed not to squeeze out a client’s last penny, but to show you’re an empathetic partner to them and perhaps that they are the same for their own clients or employees. PPAI • APRIL 2023 • 33

Voices | Responsibility Tour De Force Peek Behind The Scenes At Mandalay Bay Convention Center For Ideas To Improve Your Business’s Sustainability Performance. by Maurice Norris EIGHT YEARS AGO, PPAI SET A GOAL: The PPAI Expo should become a zerowaste event. In the beginning, there was some internal skepticism that it was even possible – that the biggest waste of all would be our time. But we truly believed that we could and should do better. So we were elated to learn as a staff, when all the dust was settled and the calculations from Mandalay Bay Convention Center were returned, that The PPAI Expo 2023 achieved this huge milestone. All told, we recycled 107,862 pounds of material that week in Las Vegas. Nearly 54 tons! We could not have done it without the long-term vision and commitment of PPAI staff, or without the help from so many members like you. But we also owe a huge debt of gratitude to Mandalay Bay and the work of its parent company, MGM Resorts, for creating sustainability policies that deliver results. They are world-class leaders in sustainability, so it was also a personal thrill to join PPAI’s Product Responsibility Advisory Group for a tour of the convention center’s sustainability program during the week of the event. 34 • APRIL 2023 • PPAI

Responsibility | Voices While alternative energy usage and water conservation were the foundation of MGM Resorts’ sustainability program, materials recycling was also a huge focus. All of us on the tour came away inspired by the effort and filled with concepts we can try to adapt and implement to improve our own operations. Not all of these will be attainable for you – or even applicable – but there’s at least a chance they’ll spark an idea that does make a positive impact. I just have to share these key insights from the tour: 1. Consider process and training adjustments. The tour revealed MGM Resorts replaced over 1.4 million light fixtures with energyefficient LED lighting. The resort also trains its room attendants to draw the curtains and turn the HVAC systems to 72 degrees when servicing guest rooms, which helps maintain room temperatures while using less energy. 2. Search for scalable options. Perhaps one of the largest impacts is made by MGM’s Mega Solar Array, which comprises 323,000 solar panels arranged on 640 acres in the desert north of Las Vegas. The Mandalay Bay Convention Center’s roof holds 26,000 solar panels on 26 acres, which it claims is the largest contiguous solar array in the United States. Collectively, MGM Resorts’ alternative energy program provides up to 90% of its daytime electricity needs across 13 properties in Las Vegas. While most buildings in our industry may not have 26 acres of roof space, solar panels and energy-efficient lightbulbs are scalable activities that can produce impactful results for industry companies looking for ways to reduce their carbon footprints. 3. Know that opportunities to reduce consumption are all around you. The resort has removed 200,000 square feet of natural grass on its properties and replaced it with landscaping alternatives more tolerant to the droughts that affect Las Vegas and other areas. Aside from switching out the grass, Mandalay Bay also replaced nonnative plant and tree species with native plants that do not need to consume as much water to survive in the Las Vegas environment. 4.Set goals. The resort previously created an initiative to reduce its collective water usage per square foot by 30%, which it reached in 2019. When you set specific sustainability goals, you can measure Let The World Be Your Oyster How MGM Creatively Contributes To Environmental Stewardship When MGM National Harbor in Maryland opened, the resort joined a local coalition whose goal is to replace 10 billion oysters in Chesapeake Bay by 2025. Overfishing and other mistreatment of the bay has led to water quality degradation and other adverse impacts on the ecosystem, including a severe decline in the oyster population that so many area businesses and international restaurants rely on. The practice of restoring the oyster population entails collecting shells at multiple resort properties, including Mandalay Bay, and having the shells treated before returning them to the Chesapeake. This goal has numerous benefits because oysters filter water and provide habitats during their procreation process. This initiative provides a sustainable source of new oysters that benefits the coastal waters and MGM locations, because each half-shell can support 10 new oysters. RYO Alexandre / Shutterstock.com John Roche / Shutterstock.com PPAI • APRIL 2023 • 35