Let’s Talk About Swag, Baby!

The drive from Flint to Chicago last Thursday was an odd one.  I had picked up a woman I had never met in person and barely knew from Twitter, helped her get her bags into the car, and together we rode for 5+ hours.  Just like the changing dynamic between Gwyn & myself, the mood bounced around between nervous to thrilled and everything in between.  We were both in disbelief we were actually attending the blogging and social media conference and although we both knew we were in store for something special, we did not really know what was in store for us.  Unfortunately, neither will you.  Yet anyway. I will fill you in on Paula Deen, the future of social technology, and the amazing women I met later.  The topic today is freebies. Samples.  Swag, if you will.

The return trip on Sunday was not so different from Thursday’s drive, maybe a little quieter, and we were definitely much more exhausted.  The excitement was still there, though.  Gwyn and I alternated between enthusiastic conversations, our life’s philosophies, conference recaps & plans for the future, and quiet thoughtful moments where we held similar conversations with ourselves, contemplating what we had done and what we plan to do.  Today, though, I am distracted from my locked up genius busting out of my brain seams by some negative Blogher chatter that I would like to purge so I can move on.

Free stuff! As with any conference or exposition, there were vendors on hand: Folks who took their time and loaded up their products to present to us in fun and educational ways.  You know what else they did?  They brought us samples! Yummy treats to try, the latest beverages to hydrate us, and household & technological diddies to add fun and convenience to our lives.  If we like a particular product we may buy it, tell our family about it or even better yet, blog about it! That’s what the advertiser is hoping for.  And why not?  After feeding, entertaining, and educating us all weekend is it too much for them to be able to ask us to TRY their new snack cracker?  There were some comments questioning this practice, but I am going to answer “no. there is nothing wrong with this. It actually makes sense.” Now moving on.

To Swag or not to Swag? That is the real issue.

Ladies I understand that it is exciting to get stuff.  To try new things. To be ahead of the technology and cleaning product curve.  But is it cool to steal?  Would it make you proud to see your children bombard the other children to get to the front of the line where Santa Claus is passing out toys?  Did you really pay hundreds of dollars to mainly show up and score shit?

Not everyone behaved this way of course, but enough that I over heard vendors discussing not wanting to provide swag anymore because they don’t enjoy being attacked and pressured for more.

My thought on the matter is this.  Although I didn’t know anything about free goodies in the expo hall or swag bags at parties at the time that I signed up, I liked it.  It made me feel giddy like a kid.  I can no more speak for the blogher population than I can the entire mom population, but here’s my thing.  I don’t get out much and most of my cash goes to food and kids.  I haven’t been to the mall in years.  “Splurges” for me have come to be things like Mr. Clean sponges, a pretty new pen to journal with, and a full tank of gas all at once.  These things make me smile.  So for someone to walk up and hand me a bag filled with nail polish, glitter, lip gloss,  chocolate AND a not yet released doll for my daughter, I am delighted and touched.

Delighted to have a new lip gloss which is an unexpected bonus for me, and touched that the angels behind the scenese “get” me.  They know that even in this circumstance I feel selfish to receive bags of goodies and munch on chocolate and wine while my daughter is home watching out the window for me.  So they give me something for her, as well.  Several somethings in fact, so that I will allow myself to be treated well and enjoy some much needed adult time, getting educated and bonding with my sisters.

So please party planners and PR people:  Don’t let the immature greedy acts of a few ruin the swagsational spoiling of the appreciative majority.  Instead, feel free to get tougher on the offenders.  Taze them bitches if you have to.   But let the rest of us feel like rock stars for a couple days. :-)