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The Best ACC Conference Giveaways. Part One.

I was speaking at a Meritas conference a little while ago, which was timed to coincide with the Association of Corporate Counsel (ACC) annual conference.  We’d designed Meritas’s new booth, so we went to see it in action. Here’s the backdrop:

I like to wander Exhibit Halls to see what grabs my attention, and evaluate the law firms’ booths and tchotchkes. Below is a collection of some of my favorite giveaways.  Most were the typical low-end crap — cheap logo’d pens, hard candy, miscellaneous squishy or light-up doo-dads.  But some of the freebies were more creatively branded or executed.  I’ll write 2-3 posts summarizing those that caught my attention.

Part One, below, is dedicated to geographically focused messages, implicitly “If you need a firm in [location] remember [our firm].”  A simple, straightforward marketing theme. 

I attend so many conferences every year that I rarely shlep home the swag.  But for ACC’s particularly target-rich environment of clients and prospects, the law firms went the extra mile to capture the clients’ attention.  I actually squeezed a number of them into Bird & Bird’s handy, environmentally friendly cloth bag.

Initially, some of the hottest items were Meritas’s simple but clever luggage tags:

Meritas is an international law firm network, so a travel theme made sense.  Some tags were pre-printed, others were written by Tanna Moore, Kim Heinrich and the Meritas gang, e.g. “Hands off or I’ll call my lawyer.”   Frankly, I was slightly concerned that the tags’ sayings might be perceived as too cute, but the incredibly high demand for them proved me wrong.  You could see attendees surreptitiously walking past the booth many times over two days, seeking to complete their collection.  We were able to swap these coveted tags for other booths’ giveaways. I have a few tags on my roller bag and they actually generate a lot of conversation.

Most booths are happy to pass out their promotional items. That’s the point, after all — get your logo’d materials in the hands of targeted attendees.  And most don’t want to drag all the leftover goodies back home anyway.  But some supremely confident firms make you really work for them.

The best example of this was Blakes’ coveted Canadian wool hats.  With new designs every year, some in-house counsel said that they look forward to collecting them each year.   Great quality, useful, impossible to discard, and well-branded both with the firm name and implicit connection to their Canada brand, it’s effective marketing from every angle.  Even better, CMO Alison Jeffrey wouldn’t give them up easily, greatly increasing the demand.  My family and I have been sharing them throughout this miserable 2014 Chicago winter. 

 Another firm, Stikeman Elliott also played up their Canadian connection with an adorable, plush beaver wearing a red logo’d t-shirt.  The children of many ACC members are playing with these.


Migrating south to Louisiana, I also liked the Kean Miller’s Cajun cooking collection.   They offered Cajun spices, étouffée mix, a cookbook of KM employees’ favorite recipes, and a wooden spoon/spatula that my wife is currently using.  Of course, you can’t go wrong with Mardi Gras beads.  Every item is useful, branded, and memorably connected to their Baton Rouge/NOLA locations.  BTW, I’ve already used up the delicious private-labeled KM hot sauce, Steve Boutwell.  Just sayin’…. 


Even farther south, all the way to Brazil, Demarest Advogados leveraged Brazil’s “beach” connection with a high-quality folding mat, complete with inflatable pillow.  These were also very popular, with passersby trying to sneak two or more as they strolled passed the booth.


In short – an effective, well-considered collection.

More examples, from high-tech videos to low-tech oven mitts, will be shown Part Two.