Editorial: Come On, We All Love SWAG

(Image credit: SCN )

Recently, I decided to recycle my old laptops—you know, the ones preloaded with Windows 7 and Windows Vista. When it was time to remove the hard drives, I went straight for my Extron tweaker. Of course, my tweaker is probably older than those laptops; it reads Extron Electronics.

Extron Tweaker

(Image credit: Mark J. Pescatore)

My father was an auto mechanics teacher. One lesson he drilled into my head was having the right tool for the job. He loved his Extron tweakers, which I collected for him at various InfoComm shows. Yes, he had more than one, strategically positioned around the house and in the garage.  

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Trade shows are back—and while they may not hit record numbers in terms of attendees or exhibitors in the near future, it’s definitely cause to celebrate. With trade shows comes the promise of new business opportunities and, of course, stuff we all get, also known as SWAG. While items like RGB Spectrum collectible coins may be in short supply, I predict hand sanitizer will remain a bountiful SWAG staple for years (and with good reason). I’d also bank on promotional bags, because attendees always seem to accumulate printed materials, purchases, samples, and other SWAG on the show floor.

Do people actually use SWAG? Based on a sample size of one, I’d say yes. For example, I only recently retired a Contemporary Research baseball cap that was given to me more than 15 years ago during an InfoComm golf tournament. It has been replaced by a hat from Advanced Systems Group, the company of SCN columnist Dave Van Hoy. (Thanks, Dave.)

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Recently, I got caught in a rainstorm on my way to a restaurant. Good thing I keep my trusty Network Electronics (the company is Nevion these days) umbrella in my car. Speaking of my car, currently one of my most useful pieces of SWAG is a car vent phone holder, courtesy of TVU Networks. My car was built a couple of years too early for the whole Apple Car Play/Android Auto interface, so this handy little gizmo gives me a clear view of Waze when I’m on the road. 

Over the years, more than one Grass Valley pen has been used to write notes in my reporter’s notebook. And I’m not sure I’ve ever actually purchased a USB flash drive. Black Box provided my current tool for local transfer between computers, but I have others from Arista, JVC, and Matrox—and those are just the ones within reach.

I remember one NAB where I got so much SWAG that I literally handed it out to my college students. T-shirts, pens, key rings, stress balls—college students like free stuff even more than you or I do. In retrospect, I probably shouldn’t have given that one kid the pocketknife. Also in retrospect, Wohler was giving away pocketknives! How cool is that?


(Image credit: Mark J. Pescatore)

So, yes, I’d say SWAG is still a fun way to make an impression with potential customers. Plus, you never know when some writer for a popular industry media outlet will name drop your company. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I think I’ll have some hot chocolate in my SMPTE mug while cleaning my phone screen with my Kramer microfiber cleaning cloth as I store various items in my Yamaha Installation Series shoulder bag. Later, I might measure something with my Premier Mounts tape measure as I listen to music with my NetApp earbuds as I take notes in my AMX portfolio.

Mark J. Pescatore
Content Director

Mark J. Pescatore, Ph.D., is the content director of Systems Contractor News. He has been writing about Pro AV industry for more than 25 years. Previously, he spent more than eight years as the editor of Government Video magazine. During his career, he's produced and hosted two podcasts focused on the professional video marketplace, taught more than a dozen college communication courses, co-authored the book "Working with HDV," and co-edited two editions of "The Guide to Digital Television."