The Coolest Items I Saw at the PPAI Expo

Posted by Andrew Brown on Mar 8, 2016 2:30:00 PM

My first time attending the PPAI Expo was in 2007. I ducked into the restroom between education sessions. For those of you who have never been in a men’s room, just know that every urinal has a splash guard in its basin, usually made of rubber or plastic. Only at the PPAI Expo, the splash guards were imprinted with the name and logo of an exhibitor and a call-to-action: “Visit us at Booth XXX.” Talk about a captive audience.

I tell that story so you understand that the promotional products industry is not stuffy. It’s filled with fun, creative people willing to experiment with offbeat ideas. The best promotional products distributors are good at brainstorming and problem-solving. They’re not just looking for the least expensive mug or pen. They want there to be a vision, a purpose and a story behind the products they suggest.

That’s one reason my vote for the neatest item at the PPAI Expo goes to BeBack Customized Gum Packs ( The product is a pack of gum with a card attached to the back. The card is perforated, so it can be torn off. It is an incredibly simple product with practically limitless applications.

For example, Bohemian Biergarten, a bar in Boulder, Colorado, handed the gum to students at a nearby university. It printed a coupon on the perfed card, so the giveaway led directly to new clientele. Dana Noble, creative director at BeBack, told me that fundraising for sports teams is another popular application for the giveaway. Teams print their schedules or profiles of their athletes on the cards.

A close runner-up was Digital Imports’ paper webkeys ( Imagine any paper marketing collateral — brochures, business card, flyers, postcards, etc. — but with a tiny USB port attached. When users plug in the USB, they’re taken to a predetermined URL. There are endless applications where customization and tracking are important — trade shows, for instance.

The business card I picked up had a sample webkey attached to a perforated strip of paper. When I got home from the conference, I stuck it into my computer. It automatically launched my Web browser and took me to a unique landing page.

Read Andrew’s entire PPAI Expo recap in the February 2016 issue of PS Magazine.

Topics: Promotional Products, Innovations


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