The Death of Promo Tees

I was washing my car the other day, and I came to a stunning realization: America no longer cares about promotional t-shirts.  Trust me when I say that I know this isn’t a ground-breaking discovery, but you might not think discovering the tagless t-shirt was a ground-breaking discovery either and, lo and behold, you don’t see me scratching my neck.

But  you’re probably wondering, “What does that have to do with washing a car?”  I’m glad you asked. When washing a car, it is appropriate to use old rags since cars tend to be covered in numerous species of grit and grime. At my house, those rags consist almost entirely of promotional t-shirts acquired over our many years of, well, acquiring promotional t-shirts.

The amount of money spent on promotional t-shirts has to be an excruciatingly large number.  Think for just a second about the number of free t-shirts you’ve received over the years at sports games, applying for credit cards, going to conferences, opening a new checking account and running 5Ks.  Count up that number, and I’m sure you’d have entire dresser full of logo vomit in t-shirt form.

Of course, the issue with any promotional t-shirt is that you never know who your audience is going to be so, as a promoter, you’re forced to go with what you perceive to be an “average” size.  To be fair, when you’re shooting a promo tee out of a t-shirt cannon at 75mph, there’s no telling who’s hands that tee is going to land in to.  But most of the time the lucky patron excitedly unwraps the shirt to find out disappointingly that it’s three sizes too big.

I mean, I enjoy a free shirt as much as the next guy, but what are we really achieving here?  The assumption with any promotional t-shirt is that the recipient will wear it around like a walking billboard.  But if the shirt is too big (and generally poorly designed) we end up taking them home and tossing them in the back of a closet or, better yet, using the fine material to clean the dirt off your car.  Do you see what I’m saying?  Let’s lose the budget for promotional tees and funnel that cash into something usable.  Toss it at Facebook or Twitter or whatever social network floats your boat.  Get your brand through the social pipeline and ditch the XXL.  You’ll thank yourself for it.

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