Editor's Picks: Best In (Virtual) Show

 

Since 1914, the Association’s trade show has been the industry’s launch point for the latest products to use in client promotions, and this year was no different. But instead of walking from booth to booth, attendees virtually “visited” exhibitors, engaging in live booth chats and videoconferences with suppliers where they received up-to-the-minute information about new products.

Along with hundreds of innovative products on the virtual show floor, the PPAI Expo Direct-2-You ushered in nearly 11,000 distributors during the four-day show held January 11-14. Attendees made 479,620 booth visits, took part in 331,833 chats with exhibitors and viewed products 439,611 times. Expo Direct-2-You also transformed the Product Pavilion, a favorite of Expo attendees, into a virtual display, showcasing standout products. For this year’s show, Product Pavilion products were featured under four categories: Green, PPE, Made in USA and New Poducts. Hardgoods that offer a quick fix to a worry such as keeping germs at bay, or a solution to an everyday problem, such as cold coffee, stole the show. In each category, attendees could find functional, feel-good products relating to an overarching trend of “eat, drink and be cozy.” 

The PPAI Expo Direct-2-You also presented the industry with an extravagant first look into the future of virtual trade shows, combining easy-to-use tools for an all-around excellent experience. Here’s a closer look at products featured during the first-of-its-kind show. 

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This year, the PPB editorial team took a virtual dive into the Expo Direct-2-You show floor in search of the most unique, useful and innovatively designed promotional products. Below are some of the team’s favorites seen at this year’s show. 

Tina Berres Filipski, Editor: 

The first time I laid eyes on this t-shirt decorating technique during Expo Direct-2-You, I was completely wowed. The company uses a proprietary process to uniquely customize and transform a provided basic tee, resulting in an all-over rustic and vintage “dye-like” appearance that I couldn’t resist. Stain Imaging, a business services company that is new to PPAI and the promotional products industry, describes the process as “a monochromatic image-based, wash-like/dye-like all-over printing alternative to traditional allover decorating methods.” However they create it, this look gets my vote.

Stain Imaging / PPAI 792120, A1 / www.stainimaging.com

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Kristina Valdez, Associate Editor:

When I first read about the MEATER, a wireless meat thermometer, I immediately thought of my dad. While he doesn’t need help grilling burgers and steak to perfection, this meat thermometer will make the cooking process easier for him. With a 33-foot range that connects to an app and allows grillers to select a meat and how they’d like it cooked, the app also tells grillers how long it needs to cook, along with details such as its internal, target and ambient temperatures. Besides burgers and steaks, the MEATER can help cook the juiciest chicken, turkey, fish or other meats perfectly every time for every occasion. The stainless steel and ceramic construction makes this product water-resistant and easy to clean.

Hirsch Gift, Inc.  /  PPAI 221823, S10  /  www.hirschgift.com

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Danielle Renda, Associate Editor:

While browsing through the Green category in the Product Pavilion, this Washable Paper Laptop Backpack by supplier Gordon Sinclair caught my eye immediately, and I couldn’t wait to share it with the PPB team. Not only is this earth-toned backpack 100-percent recyclable, but it’s made from cellulose plant fibers, and once it’s placed in the ground, it will start decomposing within two weeks—yes, recipients can actually “plant” their backpacks. Vegan-friendly, it’s made from tear-resistant paper that washes like fabric, while giving the look of weathered and worn leather. This eco-friendly, unique product is a true conversation-starter, and a win-win for both clients and recipients. 

Gordon Sinclair / PPAI 111537, S4 /  www.gordonsinclair.com

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James Khattak, News Editor:

The easier it becomes to participate in positive environmental action and the better that’s integrated into daily life, the more likely those positive effects will make an impact on the world. So it was exciting to see Fill It Forward’s 18-ounce Cupanion Bottle on the show floor. Recipients of the water bottle can download an app, Fill It Forward, and every time users scan the Fill It Forward sticker adhered to the bottle, the company contributes to worldwide clean water initiatives and other charitable partners. Quick, simple and good for the environment, what’s not to like?

Fill It Forward / PPAI 792815, S1 / www.fillitforward.com

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Bring the tunes along for the ride with the JBL Go 3. This miniature speaker features bold styling and rich JBL Pro Sound. With its new eye-catching, edgy design, durable fabrics and expressive details, this is a must-have accessory for the next outing. Listen, rain or shine, to the waterproof and dustproof speaker. With its integrated loop, this speaker can go anywhere.

Hirsch Gift, Inc.  /  PPAI 221823, S10  /  www.hirschgift.com

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This 18-ounce sweat-proof Koozie® Savannah Tumbler with a retail-inspired design, keeps beverages hot for seven hours or cold for 16 hours. Recipients will never want to put this cup down, getting your clients maximum brand impressions. The screw-on, spill-resistant lid has a slider opening and sports the Koozie splash icon. The lid can be easily taken apart for thorough cleaning.

Koozie Group  /  PPAI 114187, S13  /  www.kooziegroup.com

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Give the sweetest gift imaginable with the Batch & Bodega Sugar Rush box. Recipients will be delighted to open this box and find toffee, sprinkles and cotton candy, all imaginatively flavored and packaged for a sweet tooth utopia. The flavored cotton candy includes sugar and spun strawberry shortcake cotton candy, poppy handcrafted popcorn, salted caramel popcorn and legally addictive surprise party. Along with four rainbow metallic drink coolies pre-printed with “LIFE IS SWEET,” these sweet treats come in a customizable holographic foil box with a personalized card at no additional charge.

HPG/Batch & Bodega  /  PPAI 793135, S1  /  batchandbodega.com

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This bright and colorful Translucent Color Daypack allows any brand to stand out in a crowd. Not only does this multi-use bag feature a main zippered compartment, an interior mesh pocket and a top carry handle, but also an adjustable shoulder strap that converts the bag into a sling when the strap’s zipper is closed. Perfect for festivals and concerts, this daypack can complete any campaign. 

Koozie Group  /  PPAI 114187, S13  /  www.kooziegroup.com

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The PrevaGuard™ Ion Stylus Pen comes with an EPA-registered antimicrobial additive that protects the pen by suppressing the growth of mold and mildew. The hourglass-shaped barrel makes writing comfortable while the stylus tip allows hands-free touchscreen access.

Koozie Group /  PPAI 114187, S13  /  www.kooziegroup.com

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Bring the fun everywhere with this Portable Pop-Up Cornhole Set. Made of a durable polyester material, the two 24-inch by 36-inch boards come with eight bags and ground stakes all folded into a compact pouch that can be used on every surface. Players of all ages will be ready to get their game on. 

Peerless Umbrella Company  /  PPAI 112666, S10  /  www.peerlessumbrella.com

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The h2go Rincon bottle transforms the drinking experience. This 18-ounce, single-wall borosilicate glass bottle has a translucent soft-touch finish with a threaded bamboo lid that’s perfect for chilled beverages. It comes in five soft colors that make a stunning addition on any workspace. Gift box included. 

ETS Express  /  PPAI 135148, S11  /  etsexpress.com

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This flexible magnetic mat has a durable black vinyl cover and is ideal for securely holding tools, small parts and fasteners. Magnetically mount this mat to metal toolboxes or other surfaces for quick access and easy tool removal. Great for auto shops, warehouses and do-it-yourselfers, this magnetic mat goes where you go and keeps your tools organized and within reach.

Ads On Magnets  /  PPAI 491494, S3 / www.adsonmagnets.com

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Keep your face mask handy with this helpful Face Mask Retainer. This USA-made retainer attaches to the ear loops of a face mask while the face mask hangs around the neck when not in use. Choose from two attachment options: bulldog clips or j-hooks. 

Fields Manufacturing  /  PPAI 111951, S9  /  www.fieldsmfg.com

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Nothing says “hello” like a new favorite pint glass. BruMate Imperial Pint Tumbler holds 20 ounces of any favorite beverage and will keep it at the perfect temperature from the first sip to the last. The versatile design allows end users to use it as a cocktail glass, pint glass or travel tumbler.    

Hirsch Gift, Inc.  /  PPAI 221823, S10  /  www.hirschgift.com

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Kristina Valdez is associate editor of PPB.

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