We’ve been tracking a friendly debate between two camps at Forbes.com over the current welfare of tchotchkes as an advertising tool. Each camp makes interesting arguments from opposing sides, but we’d like to add a different point of view to the discussion. Don’t worry—we’ll keep it friendly.
Let’s begin by casting a light on two descriptions of the funny little word in question; one is an objective definition and the other a crowd-sourced contribution:
“Tchotchke” may not always carry the same meaning as it once did, but let’s see how a couple of contemporaries use the word.
Interestingly, each person openly uses the term “promotional products” when describing modern marketing practices. Perhaps they each draw moderately different lines where they categorize one branded item from another, but the divide between the two arguments, we think, is much smaller than the two camps realize.
We agree that the ‘t-word’ has earned an unfavorable reputation in the marketing industry, but mostly in terms of its perceived value as a marketing tool. Any cheap (or otherwise) promotional item without a useful purpose or meaning to its recipient, one that quickly ends up in the trash, is worthless to marketers. This may well include “cheap bling.”
So, what items comprise the “best-loved advertising media?” We think of promotional products that are well made, serve a useful function, resonate with consumers, and deliver a Branded Experience. This includes anything from distributing whistles on customized key chains to self-defense students, to giving away futuristic automotive designs to car enthusiasts.
In this day and age, perhaps “promotional products” is the term that best suits our industry. Nevertheless, we can all agree that the purpose of a modern-day promotional item, no matter what we call it, is to provide an experience your brand wants its customer to have.
So, the next time you present a brand-imprinted custom bottle opener to a consumer who says, “Now this is a tchotchke I can use,” you may reply, “Well then, by definition, it’s no longer a tchotchke.”