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Death of the Swag Bag; The Rise of Virtual Swag

The swag bag is a conference and event staple. Sponsors have long clamored for the chance to contribute a t-shirt, pen, special offer or some other branded tchotchke (the swag) to a tote or sack (the bag), which then is gifted to every attendee.

swag bag event organizerThe lure of the swag bag is simple. It is a tangible embodiment of sponsors’ messaging, intended to be something that attendees keep with them throughout the event and take home afterwards. And if all goes as planned, attendees will use that cheap ballpoint pen emblazoned with a corporate logo instead of their prized Montblanc or opt for a branded key chain and toss out their lucky rabbit foot key ring.

The sad reality of swag is that it is expensive to produce and almost always irrelevant. After the event, that sponsor’s pen or key chain is tossed into a pile of other branded paraphernalia - that is, if they were not thrown into the trash at the event itself.

As physical swag dies a slow death, a new form of event sponsorship and promotion is rising: Virtual swag.

Virtual swag is an online goodie bag containing sponsor collateral, digital experiences and special offers that attendees can visit again and again. Accessed via a web page, it’s fast, cheap, and easy to produce.

Online video or special offers to watch online videos are fast becoming popular with sponsors interested in virtual swag items. A video is more engaging than a branded pen, ‘stickier’ than a keychain and far more likely to be referenced than an informational pamphlet. Moreover, online video has a much longer shelf-life than the traditional swag bag. And perhaps best of all, online video -- like all virtual swag -- can be shared via email or social media, making it the sponsor gift that keeps on giving.

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