photography by Chad Windham
It all started—for me, at least—with a downy white baby blanket with the words “Erin Elise” embroidered into it in pink stitching, along with two baby footprints.

A CEO had learned that my wife and I had just had a little girl. He asked me for her name.
A few weeks later, the aforementioned swag—or, in the jargon of the trade, “promotional product”—showed up in the lobby of D CEO magazine.


I had no idea that my baby and I had stumbled into a growing industry trend: personalized swag. (It’s so personalized, in fact, that I can’t easily unload this gift, as I have the pair of jogging shoes, autographed football, and other items I’ve unwillingly received in the course of 19 years of journalizing.)


An executive loves to read, but is on the road constantly? He or she could easily receive a Kindle e-book reader from a Dallas law firm looking for their business.


Rick Casner, a vice president at Dallas-based Gizmo Group, says his company sent a total of $4,400 worth of nice flashlights, leather coasters, luggage tags, and CD cases to 100 companies, including OGE Energy (formerly known as Oklahoma Gas & Electric) executives. Later, OGE execs awarded Casner’s company a three-year, $500,000-a-year contract for promotional products through Gizmo.


So, if on one frosty North Texas morn you receive a monogrammed Columbia fleece pullover, don’t be surprised. And, if you know someone who has a baby named Erin Elise, I’d be glad to relinquish my swag at a mutually agreed upon location.