Advertising and Marketing Executives Surveyed Reveal Most Unusual Premium Items

Dec 7, 2005

MENLO PARK, CA -- We’ve all received quirky holiday gifts from friends and family -- but they’re not the only ones who get creative in their giving.  Some companies have presented premium items to current and prospective customers that are innovative, if not downright unusual.  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 distinctive premiums they’ve heard of a firm giving.

Those surveyed were asked, “What is the most unusual or unique premium item you’ve ever heard of a business distributing?”  Here are some of their responses: 

  • “Live snakes”
  • “Rocks”
  • “Umbrellas with holes in them”
  • “Candles that smelled like burning rubber”

“Many companies provide unique promotional items to reinforce their brands and encourage the use of their services or products,” said Tracey Turner, executive director of The Creative Group.  “Creative professionals, especially, enjoy receiving inventive premiums.  The key is to make them memorable and useful.  People should want to keep them.”

These next items certainly fit into the “useful” category:

  • “Reading glasses”
  • “Sledge hammers”
  • “Rakes”
  • “Pillows”
  • “Thermometers”

The following premiums appear decidedly less helpful:

  • “Toy outhouses”
  • “Bricks”
  • “Plastic cockroaches”
  • “Pigeons”
  • “Chicken wishbone paperweights”
  • “Lab coats”
  • “Miniature airline seats”

Then there were those items that truly fit the “premium” bill: 

  • “Rolex watches”  
  • “A free flight on a private jet”
  • “Harley-Davidson motorcycles”
  • “A $2,000 shopping spree”
  • “Golf lessons”

Some organizations tried to win business by tempting the taste buds:

  • “Treasure chests of spices”
  • “Boxes of marshmallow Peeps”
  • “PEZ candy”
  • “Ice-cream sandwiches”

One company created a buzz with its offering:

“They sent a can of bees.”

And, finally, there was the firm whose premium item went over with a bang:

“We received a cannon.”

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

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