The Evolution and History of Promotional Products

Promotional Products have been around for a very long time, we figure it would be interesting to see the evolution of promotional products since they first made their debut in 1789!

1789 – George Washington created commemorative buttons to mark the event that he was elected president. Because of the success in his campaign, wooden promotional items such as almanacs, calendars, rulers and wooden items became popular.
1864 – A ferrotype with a locking pin was made for Abraham Lincoln the year he was reelected.  This pin was sold by vendors at campaign rallies or sold in small quantities to vendors.

1886 – A man by the name of Jasper Meek is known to most as the father of the industry of promotional products.  Meek was a newspaper salesman who wanted to keep his presses running during slow times.  After seeing a child drop her schoolbooks on a dirt burlap-bagsroad, he had an idea that he would use his printing press to print advertising messages on burlap bags.  He sold the bags to his friend Mr. Cantwell who gave the bags out for free to children who came into his store.  The end result?  Mr. Cantwell’s message: “Buy Cantwell Shoes” was seen all over town and Meek found a way to stay busy during his slow season.

1889 – Meek had a good streak of selling his bags without competition until another newspaper salesman, Henry D. Beach decided he was going to start printing advertising messages on anything that could be ran through a printing press: aprons, caps, hats for horses, bags for marbles, buggy whips, card cases, calendars and fans.

1896 – The first presidential election to mass-produce campaign buttons

Second Part of the 19th Century – Adolphus Busch, helped pioneer more than the Anheuser-Busch company.  When Busch’s salesmen went to taverns new-york-knicksto sell Busch’s products, Busch sent them with logoed items like corkscrews and pocket knives, to give to their potential and current customers.

1920’s – The first bobblehead to be used for promotional purpose was one created for the New York Knicks.

1936- The Chevrolet garage sent out a photographic postcard with their advertising message of 12 lube jobs for $6 in time payments.

color-changing-stress-reliever1937 – After polyurethane was first synthesized in response to the demand for a rubber substitute during World War II, stress relievers were developed.

After 1930’s – 2000’s – Pens, coffee mugs, bumper stickers, post-its, etc became popular throughout the years.

2008 – President Barack Obama created an online store with promotional SWAG – this was a different take on presidential election campaigning.

2008 – Present – More and more products are available to print logos on than ever before.  With over 25,000 products to choose from and different kinds of inks used for print (example: UV Ink), the promotional products industry has evolved extensively in the United States alone, since the first promotional button was created for our first president.



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