Promotional Products & Hidden Liabilities: Risks to Avoid


As an attendee or planner, we’ve all taken home bags of swag; some more exciting than others. From stress balls to energy drinks and solar phone chargers, the list of promotional products continues to impress.

Until recently, I was completely naïve to the thought of swag safety. I’m not talking about just warning labels. The liabilities behind swag are real risks that need to be avoided prior to investments and distribution. Corporate giveaways and product marketing require brand protection; more than just branding with proper colors and logos.

How many of us have heard of the Consumer Product Safety Commission? This was new to me as well and I’ve been ordering swag for years. In our recent session with Larry Cohen and Shamini Peter of Axis Promotion, the team explained to us the compliance and regulations we must abide by. From the CPSC to the FDA, we must know where our products are coming from, particularly food items. Recalls are a dreaded word for vendors as well as you the event professionals. Promotional items are now embedded with tracking codes exactly for this reason. If something terrible were to happen and there were a recall, the packages can be tracked back to their originating distributor and further action can be taken.

As dramatic as this may sound, the truth is, it’s a reality. This sort of thing has happened, as Larry and Shamini mentioned, to major players like McDonald’s and Reebok where they needed to immediately jump in and protect their consumers. And this leads right up to their number one safety tip – Always assume responsibility for the safety, compliance and appropriateness of the products that you are giving away.

So what are some questions to ask your vendors? Axis recommends the following examples:

  • Have you vetted your suppliers & factories?
  • Do you test products? If so, what companies do you use for testing?
  • Do you consider any of your products to be children’s items? If so, have they been tested?
  • What are you doing to help mitigate compliance risks?
  • Are you a part of any quality control or safety organizations?

In the end, it’s critical you know which products are “red flags,” which have been recalled, what kind of testing has been done and how best to avoid additional risks because you’re looking to give your attendees a takeaway that continues to carry on your event’s memorable experiences.

If you want to learn even more, I’d highly recommend viewing the Axis Promotions session on Promotional Products Hidden Liabilities: Risks Eventprofs Need to Avoid.




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