Just Because You Can Doesn't Mean You Should!

  • Nov 17, 2020

I recently read a post on LinkedIn talking about trade show someone had attended in the past month. There was a comment that the best thing in the show bag was a COVID-19 rapid test. I have to admit that I cringed and wondered who had sponsored that particular item, especially since the show wasn't medically related in any way.

It's always been my philosophy to be cautious about the promotional products I recommend to my clients when the product category is new or a malfunction can have critical consequences for my clients' recipients and, therefore, for my client's brand image.

When power banks were new on the scene, I chose not to promote them to my clients and, in fact, actively argued against them. Why? Because we were hearing more and more about units that were overheating and causing fires and even explosions. Even some of my most trusted suppliers were having issues with these. After a few months, safety adjustments were made and industry standards were set and I started recommending them when I thought they were appropriate.

USB drives were another area where I'm very particular about the ones I recommend. There have been too many cases of inexpensive drives bought online that have faulty memory chips that don't work at all or only work a handful of times before they just die. Even worse, there have been cases of these inexpensive drives having memory chips that have viruses - they are given out and then promptly install a virus on the recipient's computer. Yikes!

Of course, all these types of incidents result in anything from bad publicity to loss of trust to lawsuits for the company that put its brand on these items.

Now, imagine, with all the less-than-reliable tests out there that can be uncomfortable to administer correctly with results that may determine how a person interacts with others in this COVID riddled environment - is that something you want your brand on? Even if it's the best test in the world, people won't necessarily take/give them correctly because they're not trained medical professionals. People also don't necessarily understand that a negative test today means a negative test tomorrow or the day after. (This is not an indictment of any particular brand of test for COVID-19; just the facts regarding testing in general as reported in the news.)

While, in concept, the idea of branding a COVID-19 test as a promotional item might be "cool," I don't believe that we're at a point where they're reliable enough or easy enough or understandable enough to want to open yourself up to the possible ramifications of an outcome gone bad.

Caution is not a bad thing when your brand (and maybe your company) is at stake.