According to legend, eBay was started as a way to locate PEZ dispensers?
Another startup seeded in promotional products is Twitter. When this early bird was still in it’s nest, many other dot coms were closing their virtual doors.
When Twitter was beginning as a simple social texting platform in 2006, an employee named Noah Glass was at a party called “Valleyscwhag Hoedown” in San Francisco. With all the failed startups, there was plenty of unused swag, so the idea was to gather and gift their dead branded merchandise to the party-goers.
Odeo was one of the flailing startups represented at the party, and also happened to be the corporate parent to a little blue bird we’d all come to know as Twitter.
As the story goes, Glass shared Twitter with Om Malik, a popular tech blogger, who tweeted “looking 4 food,” and then blogged about Twitter the next day and that little bird took flight.
When done successfully, branded merchandise is the strongest marketing tool companies can use to connect with their customers. These days there’s hardly a website or storefront that doesn’t have a Twitter bird on it.
Twitter caught the attention of one person that night, and with a social stage the next day, the buzz about Twitter spread and the curious started trying out this new way to communicate.
To think none of this would have happened if it hadn’t been for some left over t-shirts and key chains. The bird was born because a bunch of people gathered to mark a milestone (or gravestone) of ideas that never took flight.
Rick Garrett is the CEO and Founder of Markit Motion providing event and corporate branded products to businesses. He has written over 100 Markit-in-a-Minute articles drawing from his 25 years in the industry.