What is swag, or as it also is referred to, schwag? I’ve heard the term explained as an acronym for “Stuff We All Get,” but Wikipedia offers a more official explanation:
“Promotional items or promotional products refers to articles of merchandise that are used in marketing and communication programs. These items are usually imprinted with a company’s name, logo or slogan, and given away at trade shows, conferences, and as part of guerilla marketing campaigns. These items are also referred to by the slang terms swag.”
I would definitely rank the VMworld Conference SWAG I received in the past among the best of the best.
For starters, at the last two VMworlds all attendees received a conference bag or backpack with a water bottle at the registration desk. Once registered and badged the immediate next step was to find the conference t-shirt table. Then, having had attended several VMworlds in a row, the next step was to find the VMworld Alumni special gift. All of this was done before I even got to the exhibitors!
Usually, the exhibitor booths are located in the same area as, or on the way to where the meals are served, so chances are good you will spend at least a couple of hours there during the week. Don’t assume a conference bag will be enough to hold all your SWAG once the Solutions Exchange is open though. I am not exaggerating when I say I averaged four to six shirts, two coffee mugs, at least one baseball cap, eight to 10 pens, and a hacky sack or some other similar toy per day at VMworld 2007. Do not also assume that you got all the good stuff on the first time through either. Many exhibitors change their SWAG during the week. The amount of money spent on the promotional items must be in the millions.
To illustrate the type and the volume of SWAG I am talking about check out this TechTargetTV video of SearchServerVirtualization.com’s editors Bridget Botelho and Jan Stafford going through all their stuff from VMworld 2007:
[kml_flashembed movie="http://www.youtube.com/v/Zm-o7bLovtg" width="425" height="350" wmode="transparent" /]
So when you start thinking about packing for VMword 2008 in Las Vegas, NV next week, be sure to allow some room in your luggage for all the vendor swag you will bring home. Be sure to allow enough room in your Inbox for all the follow up email you will start receiving soon after you get back home too. Hey, it’s part of the game. You want the t-shirt? Then get your conference badge scanned. Whether you like it or not, that’s the rules of engagement with the exhibitors in the Solutions Exchange. In my opinion it is more than worth it.