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'YOU SHOULDN'T HAVE'

Executives Reveal the Most Unusual Business Gifts They've Received

MENLO PARK, CA -- It's the thought that counts with gift giving, but some presents prompt the question, "What were they thinking?" The Creative Group, a specialized staffing service providing marketing, advertising, creative and web professionals on a project basis, recently asked 250 U.S. advertising and marketing executives to describe the most unique items they've been given by business contacts.

Those surveyed were asked, "What is the wackiest or most unusual gift you or a colleague has received from a business associate?" Here are some of their responses:

  • "A gold tooth."
  • "A pick axe."
  • "A ketchup bottle."
  • "A container of fake worms."
  • "A dancing statue of Hank Williams Jr."

"As the holidays approach, many professionals are considering gift ideas for their coworkers and business contacts," said Tracey Turner, executive director of The Creative Group. "The challenge is finding items that are distinctive yet appropriate for the recipient and the occasion."

These next gifts certainly are unique, but their appropriateness is questionable:

  • "A nail gun."
  • "A box filled with other boxes -- there wasn't anything in any of them."
  • "A wooden propeller blade."
  • "A set of chattering teeth."
  • "A salami."

Animal-related items such as the following also may prove problematic if the recipient doesn't heed the call of the wild:

  • "A screeching monkey." 
  • "A live dog."
  • "A camel ride."
  • "An actual turtle."

Clothing is always a popular present, but not all attire is suitable. To wit:

  • "A pair of shoes with a hole in the bottom."
  • "One shoe."
  • "A hat with a fish sticking out of it."
  • "A baseball helmet with holders for beer cans on top."

Some people made a big impression with these jumbo-sized gifts:

  • "A two-foot-long pencil that was four inches in diameter."
  • "A giant plastic carrot."
  • "A humongous hand."
  • "Tennis balls the size of basketballs."
  • "A kid's bazooka that was six-feet tall."

"Advertising and marketing executives pride themselves on creativity in everything they do, including gift giving," said Turner. "In most industries, however, it's best to err on the conservative side, particularly with new professional contacts. Those with long-standing business relationships may have more latitude in their choice of presents."

She offered the following do's and don'ts when it comes to business gift giving:

  • Do provide a personal touch. Gifts that relate to the recipient's interest or hobby show you're paying attention. If your client is a yoga buff, for instance, consider giving a book on the subject.
  • Don't give items tied to a religious holiday. For example, unless you know the recipient's religion, it's best to avoid Christmas- or Hanukkah-themed presents. 
  • Do reveal your talents. Handmade gifts, such as a framed photo you took or a candle you made, are typically well-received.
  • Don't give food and drinks without thinking first. Keep in mind that some people may have dietary restrictions or avoid alcoholic beverages. 
  • Do consider spending time with someone. Taking a contact out to lunch can be a nice gift. Just be sure to schedule the appointment for after the holidays.
  • Don't overlook packaging. Unique wrapping can make even a small present seem exquisite.
  • Do make a contribution. If you're at a loss for ideas, consider a donation to a well-respected charitable organization in the recipient's name.
  • Don't rush. If you're running out of time for holiday shopping, consider presenting a small New Year's gift, such as a calendar or journal.

The survey was developed by The Creative Group and conducted by an independent research firm. It includes 250 responses -- 125 from advertising executives among the nation's 1,000 largest advertising agencies and 125 from senior marketing executives among the nation's 1,000 largest companies. The Creative Group has offices in major markets across the United States and in Canada and offers online job search services at www.creativegroup.com.


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