Water Cooler: A Different Perspective: Celebrating A Collection Of Promo From Defunct Companies
When speaking about promotional products, from their design to the products’ intent and staying power, the conversation focuses on the here and now. Whether that’s preparing for up-and-coming events or motivating workers to reach safety milestones, promotional products are tangible items used to leave an imprint today, whether that’s by helping to motivate employee behavior, thank guests for attending a recent event or encourage them to make a charitable donation.
What is hardly, if ever, discussed, is what happens to these promotional products when a startup flops or a company shutters—and that’s where Christina Warren comes in.
A software developer and former journalist interviewed by NPR in late April, Warren dished about her collection of promotional products, which included t-shirts, mugs, beverage insulators and PopSockets, from companies once promised for greatness. Her collection spurred from a smaller collection of branded items she received while attending technology conferences.
“Over the years, it’s turned out that some of those companies have gone out of business in really spectacular ways,” Warren told NPR. In her collection are items from Fyre Festival, Quibi, Fast, MoviePass and more.
One of the items in Christina Warren’s collections, a PopSocket advertising CNN+, which announced its shutdown just a month after the streaming service launched.
Warren told NPR that she collects the items partly for humor, but also because she is interested in understanding the factors that contributed to these companies’ downfall. “I would say what’s been interesting about kind of collecting the stuff over the years is that it makes me think more about, why do certain things get the attention they get? And how do they fall out of favor?”
When CNN+ recently announced in April that the streaming platform, launched a month prior, would be no longer, Warren immediately turned to Twitter. “Plz send me CNN+ merch. I will pay,” she said in a tweet, following up a note that she wasn’t trying to bring light to the situation, and sending an apology to the team that worked hard on that launch.
Warren, who says she’s currently on the hunt for Theranos-branded items, may indicate a niche of promotional products collectors, and suggest that even after a company goes out of a business, these items can still leave an imprint in unique ways.
Danielle Renda is an associate editor at PPAI.