Editor's Picks: Taking Care Of Business

Americans spend so much of their time working that it’s no wonder NBC’s TV series The Office, which portrays the daily lives of office employees in a humorous “mockumentary” style, became so popular. But the amount of time Americans spend at work is no laughing matter.

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics’ “American Time Use Survey” reports that Americans with full-time jobs spend an average of 8.89 hours at work on an average workday. More startling is this fact: the average person spends 13 years and two months at work in a lifetime, but only three years and seven weeks on vacation, says an article in HuffPost Australia. Those long work hours are characteristic of the American workforce. According to the International Labour Organization, Americans work 137 more hours annually than Japanese workers, equivalent  to 17 eight-hour workdays; 260 more hours annually than British workers, equivalent to 32.5 eight-hour workdays; and 499 more hours annually than French workers, equivalent to 62.4 eight-hour workdays, or an extra two months of work.


The good news is the more time people spend at the office, the greater the number of advertising impressions they get from the promotional products on their desks. Since desk and office products command so much real estate in people’s daily lives, using those products to advertise and promote brands makes good sense.

“Office items are great because they are most often practical, useful items that remain front and center in the workplace,” says Carrie Lewis, marketing/communication manager for Clearwater, Florida-based supplier BIC Graphic North America. “The more times someone sees the imprint information, the more likely they are to remember the company message.”

Gina Addison, marketing coordinator for Stuttgart, Arkansas-based supplier Drum-Line, Inc., says desk and office-related promotional products are used and seen daily, which generates unlimited exposure for your client’s brand. “Every time your customer touches a promotional product, it’s one more chance for you to make an impression,” she adds.

Office promotional products are ideal when used as incentives, or for recognition and thank-you gifts, says Vince McDonald, vice president of promotional products for St. Louis, Missouri-based supplier Incentive Concepts. “Whether it’s a small gift for fun, or a larger gift to celebrate a big accomplishment, the recipient will truly appreciate showcasing the gift in their office for all their coworkers or teammates to see,” he adds.

For tips distributors can use when selling office promotional products to their clients, PPB turned to Alisa Nickel, marketing director for North Mankato, Minnesota-based supplier 3M Promotional Markets, who suggests reviewing what your clients already have in their offices when meeting with them. This will tell you which office products your client values the most. “Office desk space is a key marketing tool to advertise your brand message, so it is important to get it right,” Nickel says. “Understanding who your market is, is key to your success.”

Brandon Brown, vice president of marketing for West Jordan, Utah-based supplier SnugZ USA, agrees. “The goal is to always provide something that is highly functional and that the end user will actually keep and place on their limited desk space. People don’t need more clutter in their lives.”

The key is to focus on function—to recommend those ultra-useful products that people will use multiple times a day when they are at work. “Functional products like journals and calendars are at home in many different places,” Addison says. “People like to use organizational tools that bring them joy, so an eye-appealing photo, graphic or motivational saying effectively promotes your brand.”

To determine the most effective office-related promotional products for a particular audience, get to know that audience first. Identify the demographics to know who will be receiving and using the items. Once you know who the audience is, you can determine what items will fit best for their specific work environment. “More importantly, look for something unique that the recipients will be proud to display,” McDonald says.

 This additional research has its payoff. “Taking time to choose the right product will ensure it is kept in a visible location within the office or desk workspace,” adds Lewis. However, many office and desk products are so versatile, they can be used by people from all age groups, industries and demographics. “There is such a broad selection of useful office products you can easily find a solution with a great imprint area that will fit almost any budget,” she says.


Perfect for office workers because of its multi-functionality, the Collapsible Desk Lamp with Fan features a task light, fan and phone stand all in one product—and it collapses to save space on the desktop. This useful promotional product features three modes—fan only, light only or fan and light, and has a large, visible imprint area on top.

BIC Graphic NA  /  PPAI 114187  /   www.bicgraphic.com


What would the office be without Post-it Notes? These must-have office staples are as indispensable as copier paper, paper clips and a morning cup of coffee. Leverage the popularity of these handy notes by printing your client’s advertising message or logo on this sleek Post-it Pop-up Note Dispenser. The weighted dispenser makes for easy, one-handed dispensing of the Aqua Wave 3x3 Post-it Pop-up Notes. It’s the perfect desk accessory for gaining repetitive brand recognition.

3M Promotional Markets   /   PPAI 113638  /   www.3m.com/promote


Sure to become your favorite desk accessory, the Sonic Ambient Lamp + 10W Collapsible Wireless Charger features ambient mood lights in four colors, offering a fun, lava-lamp take on a wireless charger. Both fun and functional, this product includes a rubber-grip, non-skid base, foreign object detection and Qi-equivalent compatibility—plus, it’s collapsible and repositionable to fit multiple heights and angles.

Ariel Premium Supply, Inc.  /  PPAI 161650  /  www.arielpremium.com


Help office workers cope with stress and find their happy place with these Wooden Stacking Zen Stones. Stone stacking is the art of balancing small stones on top of each other in various positions as a form of meditation and inspiration. As users balance the stones, they connect with the flow of nature and the world around them. This promotional set includes five wooden “stones” of varying sizes packaged in an attractive gift tube that can be imprinted with your client’s message. Add this set to your next campaign for stress-free advertising.

Jornik Manufacturing Corp.   /   PPAI 111065   /   www.jornik.com


When your brain needs a break from work, reach for the Rattler Wood Puzzle to enhance focus, creativity and problem-solving powers. The puzzle pieces are connected in a long snake of rotating blocks. The goal is to uncoil the blocks and reassemble them back into a cube. Laser-etch your client’s logo to the side of this well-made wooden puzzle for the perfect desktop employee incentive.

SnugZ USA   /  PPAI 112982   /  www.snugzusa.com


The perfect fit for a recipient’s favorite writing instrument or a flower stem, the Pen Holder/Bud Vase adds crystalline sparkle to any desktop. Featuring plenty of space for your logo and message, this promotional product makes a stunning corporate gift.

Crystal D  /  PPAI 112326  /   www.crystal-d.com


Staying organized and on schedule is a challenge for most office workers, so the Gloss Cover Time Manager With Pen is a welcome gift. Featuring week-at-a-glance views with one-hour increments and month-at-a-glance views, this planner is a complete organizational tool to effectively plan and stay on schedule. It includes a 14-month calendar, reference pages and two handy back pockets for important documents or business cards. A black heavyweight back cover with elastic pen loop, elastic closure/bookmark and Dynamic Pen complete this promotional product that is perfectly at home on the office desk or on the go.

Drum-Line  /  PPAI 102565  /   www.drum-line.com 


Offering all the fun of a classic bean bag toss in a smaller, portable set, the Viva Sol Mini Bean Bag is a miniature game that can be played almost anywhere—inside or outside, on a desk or a picnic blanket. Crafted from solid wood and wood veneers with a walnut finish, this sophisticated mini bean bag set features a walnut finish and eight mini bean bags.

Incentive Concepts  /  PPAI 212912  /  www.incentiveconcepts.com


The Square Mega Magnet Clip is strong enough to hold calendars, mail and paperwork and the extra-strength magnet attaches it securely to file cabinets, magnetic boards and office refrigerators. Add a one-color logo to the three-by-three-inch area on the front. It’s available in six solid and four translucent colors; shown in orange.

Evans Manufacturing   /   PPAI 110747  /   www.evans-mfg.com


The perfect spot for an inspirational quote of the day, the Bubble Light Box lets one get creative by writing and drawing on a personalized light box. Change the messages on the bubble-shaped light box daily or leave them for a while. This fun and expressive promotional product comes with a black wipe-off marker and includes an on/off switch on the side and an adhesive hook and loop on the back to mount it on cubical walls.

Beacon Promotions   /   PPAI 113702   /   www.beaconpromotions.com


Sleek European styling and ultramodern appeal combine with a comfortable feel, no matter where you grip the Trintana Comfort Pen. The engraved silver imprint and shiny trim contrast boldly with the trendy matte comfort finish and state-of-the-art hybrid ink. The pen’s comfortable triangular shape also prevents it from rolling off the desk and this triple-sided pen has three imprint areas that can easily accommodate a client’s logo, contact info and recipient’s name. 

Hub Pen Company   /   PPAI 110772   /   www.hubpen.com


This 12-inch ruler features inches in 1/16ths and metrics in millimeters. Crafted of maple with white plastic edges, the backside has a handy fraction-to-decimal-to-metric conversion chart. Also available in six-inch and 18-inch lengths.

Woodrow Engineering Company   /    PPAI 113309   /    www.woodrowrulers.com


Employees at a manufacturing facility had seen a lot of recent changes, including a heightened customer focus coupled with a new training program called Partners in Excellence. The company sensed the employees’ increased stress and wanted to give them a voice during this period, so at one of the company’s “town hall” meetings, it presented them with a Bubble Light Box imprinted with the Partners in Excellence logo. Employees embraced the corporate incentive and many displayed the light box on their desks and added handwritten inspirational quotes, which improved office morale and eased the transition through the changes. (See Bubble Light Box).


Choosing the right desk or office promotional product for your client’s campaign is critical to success, but equally so is selecting the right decorating method. PPB asked some of the industry’s leading suppliers of desk and office products to comment on some of the most popular decorating techniques they are seeing for this category of promotional products. See the sidebar “Decorating Methods Defined” for details on each technique.

The decorating method chosen will, of course, depend on multiple factors, including the item’s substrate (or material) and its color, plus the design of the logo and the size of the imprint space.

“For example, glass and metal products lend themselves to engraving while less expensive items and desktop games are better suited for screen printing,” says Vince McDonald, vice president of promotional products for Incentive Concepts.

At SnugZ USA, debossing and etching are popular decoration methods. “All of our leather items are handmade and sewn, and have a debossed logo,” says Brandon Brown, vice president of marketing. “We also have many items that are laser-etched.”

Gina Addison, marketing coordinator for supplier Drum-Line, Inc., says she is seeing increased use of blind debossing, a decoration method that presses the decoration into the material, but doesn’t press it through to the other side like a deboss or emboss would. “Blind debossing gives a more refined look to journals and planners,” she says.

Crystal D prefers to use a sand-blasted etching technique to decorate their crystal awards and gifts.

Decorating methods don’t have to be fancy to be effective. A four-color process imprint can be just as eye-catching as etching and debossing, says Alisa Nickel, marketing director for 3M Promotional Markets. “Bright colors and easily readable imprints are attractive and easy to remember,” she says.

“A full-color imprint will catch anyone’s attention,” says Pamela Baker, marketing copywriter for Hub Pen Company. 

Addison agrees, adding that a full-color photo is more engaging than a black-and-white logo. “The right set of photos can tell your company’s story quite beautifully,” she says. “No matter which decorating technique you choose, the most important ingredient to provide is quality artwork.”


Learn more about the most popular decorating methods used to decorate desk and office products, so you can better advise your clients.

Emboss: Embossing always leaves a deboss (a recessed impression) on the
back side of the material. With this method, you get an effect on both sides—
the embossed side is raised while the debossed side is pressed in.

Deboss: This decoration technique features a pressed-in logo or company
name. It’s the reverse side of the emboss.


Blind Deboss: A trending decoration method, the blind deboss leaves an
impression pressed into the material, but it doesn’t press through the other side
like a deboss or emboss would.

Etching: Etching is done either by sandblasting or using a chemical process that
etches the imprint into solid substrates such as glassware, crystal and metallic

Laser engraving: This method uses light to burn an image onto the substrate,
giving a logo a clean, polished appearance.

Screen printing: This decoration technique involves pressing ink through a fine
mesh screen and onto the surface of a product.

Four-color process: In this method, four different color values—cyan, magenta,
yellow and black (CMYK)—are used together to create a color image. 


Brittany Glenn is a Dallas, Texas area-based writer and former associate editor of PPB. 

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