The year in swag 2010: The greed edition

The year in swag 2010: The greed edition

For years, the entertainment industry has harbored a dirty little secret: Sometimes reviewers are sent friendly reminders of upcoming titles in the form of presents, which we might call bribes if they were ever valuable enough to bribe anyone into anything. As with many years past, we again sat down to write about the diverse promotional swag items we received from publicists this year. But in the spirit of our other greed-focused 2010 year-end features, like our holiday wishlist and our swindled-items gift guide, this year we also decided to take a few minutes to let those publicists know what we wish they had sent us instead. Rest assured that if they’d followed our modest suggestions, we really would have remembered their TV shows, films, books, and other assorted entertainments.


Item:
“13 Months Of Awesome” calendar
Promoting: A&E’s quickly canceled series The Hasselhoffs
Relevance: There’s no reason to believe that a calendar is specifically and immediately relevant to A&E’s short-lived Osbournes-esque reality series about David Hasselhoff and his family, unless Hasselhoff spends some time on the show marking off the days since his last drink. But a wall calendar does provide a relevant daily reminder that the Hoff exists.
Item quality on a scale of 1 (instantly trashable) to 5 (cool enough to keep non-ironically): 3. It’s a standard calendar, though a little more presentationally ambitious than most: For May, a cutout of Hasselhoff hanging from a rope is attached to the calendar so it can swing freely, and a caption reads “Hang in there, Hoff!” September reads “Blow your shofar! Hoffy Jewish New Year!” over a picture of Hoff holding matzos and sporting peyot and a bushy beard that consists of a patch of fuzz glued onto the page, Pat The Bunny-style. And one of the months is a scratch-and-sniff page where you can “smell the awesome.”
A possible better promo item: Same calendar, but with an actual Hoff-smelling component. “The awesome” is a fake-out. It just smells like a paper calendar.


Item: 
A dog-collar attachment filled with plastic bags
Promoting: Marmaduke on DVD
Relevance: High. It’s a film about a dog. Dogs poop. It also creates a direct, extremely appropriate association between the quality of the film—a live-action adaptation of a long-tolerated comic strip—and dogshit.
Quality: 4. Dog owners can actually use this item. Especially dog owners who hate their dogs, and want to humiliate them.
Better promo item: There’s an easy answer to this, but let’s just go the tasteful route, and say “A collar with Marmaduke’s name on it.” Or a sheet of paper with “I can do better than this” written on it 200 times in Owen Wilson’s handwriting.


Item: 
A bag of salt-water taffy and a hollowed-out book containing a flask
Promoting: Boardwalk Empire
Relevance: High. The book is the Anti-Saloon League Year Book, which actually existed, and the pages that aren’t shredded contain a state-by-state rundown of regional temperance efforts. The taffy is, presumably, to remind people that the show mostly takes place in Atlantic City.
Quality: 4, combined. The taffy is cute and all, but its impact is negligible. The flask, on the other hand, is pretty big, and boldly branded with a Boardwalk Empire logo. Tucked inside the discreet little book, it’s perfect for tippling.
Better promo item: A self-flagellation belt, as used on the show by Michael Shannon’s agent Nelson Van Alden as a brutal alternative to masturbation. The flask is nice, but nothing would really speak to that show’s mega-creepiness like a branded belt buckle.

Item: A metal flask
Promoting: Family Guy’s 150th episode
Relevance: It’s mostly relevant because the realization that there are now 150 episodes of Family Guy kind of makes us all want to hit the sauce.
Quality: 4. It’s a perfectly usable flask with Stewie and Brian engraved on it. Kind of a childish image to associate with your booze, but if you’re drinking hard enough, you won’t notice. Pity the flask is a little on the small side, but maybe Stewie and Brian are in favor of viewers drinking responsibly.
Better promo item: A big, big bottle of alcohol. “Thank you for it all, dear booze…”


Item:
Yellow stocking cap with a face on it
Promoting: The DVD release of Despicable Me
Relevance: The cap is designed to make your head look like one of the little yellow capsule-shaped minions who served as the primary advertising focus of Despicable Me. Those guys actually aren’t nearly as important to the film as the advertising (and this promo item) imply, but at least no one would mistake it for a Megamind hat.
Quality: 4. It’s a decently well-made hat that will keep a head nice and warm. And wearing it means you won’t have see its bulgy eyes and cocked, kinda-creepy grin weird out everyone around you.
Better promo item: A hollowed-out-animal-corpse chair like the one in the film.


Item:
Dead-plastic-guy pen-holder
Promoting: The IFC miniseries Dead Set
Relevance: Negligible. Dead Set is an imported miniseries about the victims of a zombie outbreak stalking the cast of the reality-TV show Big Brother. A little red plastic corpse, featureless except for the big X’s where the eyes should be, doesn’t really evoke zombies or zombie victims. Nor would stabbing a 5-inch zombie with a pen be an effective way to dispatch it; you’d really need a 1-inch shotgun.
Quality: 5. It’s well-made, smooth, seamless, and funny, and the pen even works. Red ink, naturally.
Better promo item: It’s a functional pen-holder and a grimly adorable little reminder of the mortality that stalks us all. There is no way to improve on that.

Item: Carpet sample
Promoting: Carpetsforairports.com
Relevance: Carpets For Airports is a remarkably straight-faced website that purports to remind travelers of the “aesthetic intimacy, poetry and passion” of airport carpets, which we should apparently be interpreting as “undeniably the largest works of art on the planet.” The site encourages travelers to send in photos and write-ups about airport carpets, with unblinking irony.
Quality: 1. It’s a stiff hunk of remaindered carpet. But it did come with a business card proclaiming the holder to be a Carpet Correspondent, so that’s something.
Better promo item: Free airline tickets to some far-flung, exotic destination so we can report on its rugs.


Item:
A tiny hourglass
Promoting: The Showtime series The Big C
Relevance: The hourglass image has been heavily used to promote The Big C, a series about a woman (Laura Linney) who learns she has cancer and decides to make the most of her remaining time.
Quality: 5. It’s a delicate little thing that seems like it would fall apart in a stiff wind, but it’s held up admirably over months of idle desktop fiddling.
Better promo item: A giant gold hourglass for A.V. Club staffers to wear when we want to get our old-timey Flavor Flav on.

Item: A personalized press pack made to look like a composition notebook and a handwritten high-school note
Promoting: A&E’s “new real life series” Teach, chronicling Tony Danza’s year as an English teacher
Relevance: About the only thing that says “real-life high school” more than lined notebooks and handwritten notes full of gossip would be a vial of concentrated boredom and teen hormones.
Quality: 3. While it’s even more useless than most swag—more than half of the notebook’s pages are filled with faux-handwritten notes about the cast, with faux taped-in cutout photos of them—the attention to detail is admirable, with the recipient’s name actually written on the notebook and the note for verisimilitude.
Better promo item: A personal visit from Tony Danza, to help us all brush up on our writing skills.


Item:
Weed grinders
Promoting: Anarcho Grow, a novel by T.A. Sedlak
Relevance: Sedlak’s novel is about a volunteer who helps a Costa Rican village prosper by growing pot, so it’s pretty relevant. The accompanying press release states that the book has caught on with the “marijuana audience,” but publisher This Press Kills Fascists is thinking bigger. “Though marijuana is involved in the plot, Anarcho Grow isn’t just for marijuana enthusiasts.” Hmm, the way two-thirds of Sedlak’s bio focuses on pot seems to say otherwise. (“He currently resides in Madison, though a recent pot bust will soon lead him to a medical marijuana state.”)
Quality: 5. These sturdy metal containers should make short work of preparing pot for your trusty vaporizer. 
Better promo item: Anarcho Grow-branded cannabis seeds. Many varieties are available from online retailers, and they’d be more relevant to the book.


Item:
A cap that looks like a brain
Promoting: George A. Romero’s Survival Of The Dead
Relevance: Zombies eat brains, duh. This hat would make you the life of the party at the next screening of a Romero film.
Quality: 4. The hat itself is really cheap, but the rubber brain material looks pretty good and disturbingly red.
Better promo item: Although we’re sure it would be completely illegal, some shotgun shells with Survival Of The Dead emblazoned on them would be pretty badass. If it’s one thing you need with zombies around, it’s ammo. 


Item:
Reusable shopping bag
Promoting: IFC…?
Relevance: Hard to say. None of the A.V. Club staff could remember much about it, other than the bag was its own shipping container. Dozens of IFC logos are printed on the lining, along with the tagline “ALWAYS ON. SLIGHTLY OFF.” How that relates to this bag is lost on us.
Quality: 4. Although the bag is a little worse for the wear after traveling from New York to Chicago via UPS, it’s high-quality. The plastic lining guards against spills and may offer a bit of thermal insulation, there’s a big interior pocket, and the outside is made from sturdy canvas. We don’t know what this is related to, but hey, it’ll come in handy at the grocery store.
Better promo item: Considering we don’t know how this fits the IFC message, it’s tough to say. Maybe the network could just go for full randomness with IFC-branded Kleenex cozies or welcome mats for total confusion.


Items:
USB drive, novelty top hat
Promoting: Tim Burton’s Alice In Wonderland
Relevance: High, though we’re simplifying greatly by calling the first package a “USB drive.” We did receive an old-timey-key-shaped USB drive with press materials for Burton’s film, but that was buried in a tiny cardboard book nested in a series of three bigger cardboard books. The main one is ludicrously big, nearly a foot wide, more than 15 inches tall, and 3.5 inches deep. Inside is a cutout with a smaller book, which opens to reveal a smaller one, and so on. When the film came out on DVD, a giant satiny Mad Hatter hat arrived to alert us to the release, four months ahead of Halloween.
Quality: Books, 4, hat, 3. The hat is cheap costume wear, but the books are ridiculously detailed. Is this why movie tickets cost so much?
Better promo item: A pair of the costume contact lenses that turned Johnny Depp’s eyes that unsettling bright green.

[pagebreak]


Item:
Metal water bottle
Promoting: The DVD release of The Crazies
Relevance: In the apocalypse, zombie-related (like The Crazies) or otherwise, water will of course remain precious. However, the direct link to the film comes from the secret government cargo plane that crashes into a pond that feeds a town’s water supply. This turns everyone into zombies. “Don’t Drink The Water!” advises the bottle, which is an odd thing to put on a container that exists for someone who wants to transport and consume said liquid.
Quality: 3. The (presumable) aluminum is sturdy, but the whole thing looks pretty cheap. We have doubts about its apocalypse-readiness.
Better promo item: Water-purification tablets. If only the poor saps in that town had them.


Item:
Miniature foam police hat
Promoting: The DVD release of Brooklyn’s Finest
Relevance: Well, the movie is about cops, so in theory, it’s highly relevant. But what does a tiny foam police hat with a thick coating of blue and black paint have to do with anything? Is it supposed to be a stress ball of sorts? The people in that film definitely could’ve used one. But its circular shape makes it a poor fit for clenching anxiously in your hand. Your dog will inevitably find this and chew it up, and you’ll find its spongy innards around your house for the next six months.
Quality: 1. These are the kinds of tchotchkes that end up in the Great Pacific Garbage Patch.
Better promo item: Just about anything.


Item:
Tote bag, scratch pad, Post-it cube, file folders
Promoting: The Increasingly Poor Decisions Of Todd Margaret
Relevance: Fairly high. The titular character in David Cross’ six-episode comedy series is an office drone who’s always digging himself deeper holes with his, umm, increasingly poor decisions. So the specially designed notepad—which has spaces for “gut feelings” and “rational conclusion”—makes sense, even though Todd Margaret clearly never thought things through this much. The tote bag makes sense, too: Todd Margaret works for an energy-drink company, and it’s nice to see the Thunder Muscle logo blown up, including its tagline: “Like drinking ten lightnings!”
Quality: 3. The bag is kind of cheap, but the folders and notepads are nice. You can’t use the Post-its for other things, though, because they’re sort of taken up by “pro” and “con” columns. They could possibly be used to make decisions.
Better promo item: A can of Thunder Muscle! Don’t you want to taste the disgusting substance that appealed to terrorists and required a bomb squad to remove from the shelves of Sainsbury’s?


Item:
A smoked sausage stuffed in a sock
Promoting: Backwash
Relevance: Extremely high, which makes sense, considering its specific nature. In the second episode of this occasionally funny Crackle.com series, one of the main characters inadvertently robs a bank with a sausage stuffed in a sock. (He brought it along in case he got hungry.) The robbery sets the stage for future episodes, so it’s safe to say that the sausage plays an important role. Not as important as the guest stars who introduce each episode—Jon Hamm, Allison Janney, Ken Marino, Hank Azaria—because without them, Backwash wouldn’t be nearly as worthy of your precious Internet time.
Quality: 2. The sock itself is a nice little number, grey with red accents. But there’s only one! The sausage was large and yummy. (Insert joke here.) Year In Swag bonus moment: When it came time to cut the sausage, we couldn’t find a knife, so we used a pie-slicer emblazoned with the word Waitress, from the pie movie!
Better promo item: How about a pair of nice socks, guys?


Item:
A spiral-bound notebook with a fancy lenticular-illusion cover
Promoting: Fringe
Relevance: Questionable. The mostly terrific Fox science-fiction show is about parallel universes, and this season has had a cracking good time with doubles whose lives intersect. The cover of this notebook is one of those optical-illusion things that change as you move them, so you’ll see the characters played by John Noble and Anna Torv in their outfits from both “sides.”
Quality: 3. It’s a nice notebook, though it’s spiral-bound at the top, which is a little strange. There’s also a little mobile code on each page that you can access via a code-reader on your smartphone. But why the hell would you want to? It just takes you to a mobile site with a bunch of extraneous stuff about the show.
Better promo item: A typewriter that types backward and a mirror that sees into the other universe. Or one of those metal gizmos that the shapeshifters on Fringe use to change bodies.


Item: 
Rubber ear
Promoting: The DVD/Blu-ray release of the documentary Van Gogh: Brush With Genius
Relevance: Obvious enough. The question is whether you want to promote your film about Van Gogh by making a joke of his darkest moment. Do you? Then go with the rubber ear.
Quality: 2. It appears to be a well-crafted rubber ear. But who needs a rubber ear?
Better promo item: Maybe a severed ear doesn’t go far enough. Why not send out a replica of the revolver Van Gogh used to kill himself?


Item: 
Black soap
Promoting: Red Dead Redemption
Relevance: Moderately high. This forbidding-looking bar of Alex T. Davenport-brand Eradicator Soap (“Tough on blood and manure”) comes in period-appropriate packaging, and its unfit-for-human-use color looks like a product of the game’s turn-of-the-century setting. Trouble is, nobody in Red Dead Redemption ever seems to have bathed.
Quality: 4. It’s kind of cool-looking, and it doesn’t smell as awful as it looks, but it’s tough to imagine anyone actually applying it to human skin. A “for external use only” warning isn’t especially comforting either. How else would… oh, we don’t want to know.
Better promo item: Blood. Manure.


Item:
A cardboard tube shaped like a piece of dynamite, containing two cans of energy drink of indeterminate brand
Promoting: Human Target and Good Guys on Fox
Relevance: Conceptual/low. Human Target and Good Guys are explosive, high-energy series. This promotion could apply to about 75 percent of shows on television right now. Plus, with homeland-security tensions high this season, attempting to re-use the fake-explosive mail tube might not go over well. 
Quality: 1. Mystery drink isn’t generally coveted by people who like to know what they’re ingesting. It’s unclear what brand of energy drink is actually in these cans: Googling the ingredients strangely led to a something called NCIS Caf-Pow Energy Drink. That’s right, an energy drink from another TV show. How it tastes is a mystery, as we were unwilling to sample a product containing “cyanocoblamin.”
Better promo item: Fun, non-lethal explosives in the form of firecrackers. 


Item:
A gear-shaped box with a hermetically sealed History Channel sports car on top
Promoting: History Channel’s Top Gear
Relevance: High. The show is about cars. The word “gear” is in the title. The car is on top of the gear. 
Quality: 2. While the box itself is cool (it opens up to reveal the show’s DVD screener), the packaging limits the fun quotient of the swag: The car could provide many minutes of fun, but we’d have to either take the case apart or smash it in order to free the miniature car from its Trouble-type dice-bubble prison. 
Better promo item: A toy car we could actually play with would be nice. 


Item:
Blue, berry-scented lip balm
Promoting: The film Frozen
Relevance: Tangential. The film is a thriller about skiers stranded on a chairlift, sort of like Open Water for skiers. Chapped lips are occasionally a hazard associated with skiing, though not typically a particularly frightening one, and they don’t seem to be a major problem for Frozen’s characters
Quality: 4. While the studio’s stinginess is laughable, it’s winter, and we aren’t about to turn down some free lip balm. But we could have also used some free gloves and hot chocolate. 
Better promo item: Those huge, furry snow boots that rich ladies wear for some reason at fancy sky resorts. Those are practical and scary. 

[pagebreak]


Item:
A beach towel packed into an orange-shaped box
Promoting: The Glades on A&E
Relevance: High, especially in terms of references packed in a small container. The chalk outline on the towel indicates that the show is a police mystery drama, while the orange and the towel hammer home the fact that this show takes place in Florida.
Quality: 3. A beach towel with a chalk outline on it is a cute novelty item, but the towel is unfortunately giveaway-quality, i.e. good for drying off the car, not so great for taking to the beach.
Better promo item: A bigger, thicker towel. That’s all. 


Item:
A big black box containing a booklet that plays video trailers and clips of a nature show
Promoting: Discovery Channel's Life
Relevance: High and literal. You can’t get any more relevant than actually being shown what you’re going to see.
Quality: 5. The packaging of the screener is high-quality, the footage is crisp and compelling, and even in the year 2010, the concept of watching a video inside an old-fashioned book is still pretty nifty. That is, until the batteries die and the item’s quality is immediately rendered a 1.
Better promo item: Instead of video of a brown-tufted capuchin monkeys cracking open palm nuts, an actual monkey to crack open nuts on command. 

Item: “Baby Daddy” T-shirt 
Promoting: Raising Hope 
Relevance: Relatively high. Raising Hope is a sitcom about a directionless young man who discovers he’s the father of a 6-month-old whose mother is executed for murder. We haven’t seen the show, so we can only imagine that the man constantly gazes down at his T-shirt to remind himself that he is, in fact, the sole provider for a vulnerable, needy young infant. 
Quality: 2. For a brand-name Hanes t-shirt, this looks and feels awfully generic. The dishwater-grey color doesn’t help.
Better promo item: A Raising Hope pregnancy kit and/or urn containing the dead mother’s ashes. Or would that be just a wee bit too grim? 


Item:
Police tape 
Promoting: Cyrus 
Relevance: High. Cyrus is about the power struggle that ensues when a lonely, divorced manchild (John C. Reilly) falls in love with Marisa Tomei, a single mother with an uncomfortably close relationship with her live-in adult son, Jonah Hill. The two battle for turf, emotionally and physically. And what better way to divide a home than with a roll of police tape? It’s ideal for drawing a firm line in the sand, or the middle of a room, as it were. 
Quality: 2. It’s fine, as far as police tape goes. 
Better promo item: A Cyrus-branded copy of Oedipus Rex.

Item: T-shirt 
Promoting: Conan
Relevance: High. Conan O’Brien’s battle with NBC over The Tonight Show elevated the towering cutup from a cult favorite to a genuine American pop icon. The promo t-shirts made to promote O’Brien’s eagerly anticipated return to television give him the iconic, pop-art treatment. One features Coco in an unmistakably Elvis-like pose; another consists of five rows of Conan’s coif in white, with only the final disembodied head of hair bearing Conan’s signature orange hair.
Quality: 5. This is one promo item we’d actually wear. Then again, that’s true of a ratty Deep Rising promo T from 1998 as well. We’re weird that way. 
Better promo item: An “I’m With Coco” cocoa mug with hot-chocolate mix and those adorable miniature marshmallows.


Item:
Giant tub of blue hair gel
Promoting: Glee
Relevance: Medium. Leave it to the notoriously unsubtle Glee to go way overboard with a good idea. This oversized gelatinous blob is a nod to one of Glee’s better recurring gags, Jane Lynch’s delightfully cruel jabs at Matthew Morrison’s shellacked ’do, many of which are printed on the tub’s label. (“Oh, hey, William, I thought I smelled cookies wafting from the ovens of the little elves who live in your hair.”) 
Quality: 2. It’s always nice when promotional items have a use beyond cluttering up our desks, but 3 pounds of candy-scented hair gel is about 2.9 pounds more than all the A.V. Club’s staffers will use in our collective lifetimes.
Better promo item: A tub of Slushee mix, a nod to one of Glee’s other hammered-into-the-ground recurring gags. Three pounds of sugary frozen drink would get a lot more play around these parts. 


Item:
Bandage tin 
Promoting: Childrens Hospital
Relevance: Strong. This small red tin emblazoned with the logo of the web-series-turned-Adult Swim-sitcom Childrens Hospital isn’t particularly exciting on first glance, and the generic wrapped bandages inside seem far too bland for such a wonderfully weird, funny show. But look a little closer and you’ll see those bandages aren’t so generic; they’re printed with the Gacy-esque visage of Rob Corddry’s doctor-clown character. 
Quality: 4. The tin is tough to open even if you aren’t bleeding profusely, but once you pry it open, the bandages themselves are a nice surprise. 
Better promo item: These are pretty cool as-is, but it would be nice if they came with a lollipop reward for being such good patients/viewers. 


Item:
Airbag in a box
Promoting: America’s Worst Driver 
Relevance: High. When this mysterious latched box promoting the Travel Channel’s America’s Worst Driver arrived at A.V. Club HQ, we joked that an airbag might go off when we opened it. We might want to consider a second career in promotional-souvenir development, because that’s exactly what happened. An inflatable logo on a spring pops out when the box is opened, promising milliseconds of entertainment and years spent slowly decomposing in a landfill. 
Quality: 2. It’s a cardboard box with an inflatable plastic bag inside. What do you expect?
Better promo item: Considering this is for a show in which the “winner” gets his or her car destroyed and the “losers” receive new vehicles, some sort of squishable car-shaped stress ball would be thematically appropriate and help manage the anxiety of dealing with terrible drivers. 


Item:
Nesting dolls
Promoting: Kirstie Alley’s Big Life 
Relevance: High. Kirstie Alley has made a second career out of yo-yo dieting, from Fat Actress to her weight-loss campaigns for Jenny Craig and Organic Liaison to this year’s A&E “scripted reality” series Kirstie Alley’s Big Life, which chronicles her “weight loss journey.” This matryoshka doll allows you to play along, making Alley shrink and grow before your eyes. Deep in the sawdusty confines of the third doll is a now-requisite flash drive—which is also shaped like Alley—proving that what really matters is what’s on the inside—in this case, digital promotional materials.
Quality: 4. The dolls themselves are actually made of wood, and the flash drive is fairly sturdy. If only they didn’t have Kirstie Alley’s visage splashed all over them.
Better promo item: Diet pills.


Item:
Pint glasses
Promoting: Fox’s Sunday animation lineup
Relevance: Medium-high. A set of pint glasses is a thematically appropriate promotion for Fox’s Sunday-night animation lineup, because three of the four shows’ patriarchs imbibe regularly. But Stan Smith is too straitlaced for that demon alcohol, which raises the question, why wasn’t drunken alien Roger featured on the American Dad glass instead?
Quality: 4. They’re nice, hefty glasses with color-coordinated logos and character designs—and they’re full of poison, according to the warning sticker on the bottom, which cautions “The materials used as colored decorations on the exterior of this product contain lead, lead compounds, and/or cadmium, which are chemicals known to the State Of California to cause cancer or birth defects or other reproductive harm.” Luckily, beer—the cause of and solution to all life’s problems, to borrow a line from one of the shows—should negate any birth defects brought on by that colorful lead paint, right? 
Better promo item: Pint glasses that aren’t poisonous. 


Item:
44-cent stamps featuring The Good Wife and NCIS Los Angeles
Promoting: Paramount Home Entertainment/CBS DVD TV season box sets
Relevance: Low. The stamps come with a holiday card that says inside “’Tis the season to spread Holiday cheer! / Why not make sending it fun this year? / With stamps for your cards and ideas for great gifts, / CBS Home Entertainment has plenty to add to your holiday list!” The poorly metered implication seems to be that you can send a Christmas card featuring the cover of the Good Wife DVD to those on your list not lucky enough to receive the actual DVD set, but that sort of taunting isn’t really in line with the holiday spirit.
Quality: 3. The stamps are colorful and glossy, but about twice the size of a normal stamp, meaning you’d have to hand over about an eighth of your Christmas-card real estate to Christopher O’Donnell’s smirk or Julianna Margulies’ scowl, neither of which are the best harbingers of holiday cheer.
Better promo item: Actual Christmas cards. That way, at least if you have to shill for CBS Home Entertainment this Christmas, only your recipient has to know. There’s no reason to bring your postal carrier into this, too.


Item:
Pottery plants, a picture frame, and a cloisonne pin
Promoting: Various PopCap videogames
Relevance: The pottery plants are handmade renditions of characters from Plants Vs. Zombies; that’s pretty relevant. The weighty metal picture frame, for Bejeweled’s 10th birthday, makes less sense, but it does feature plastic inset renditions of the game’s various jewels, so we’ll give it a pass. The pin, for Zuma Blitz, depicts the stylized frog at the game’s center. No one could argue with that, though why you’d want to wear that frog is another story.
Quality: Variable. The pottery plants were only protected by a little bubble wrap, so they all showed up shattered into fragments, alas. The frame is sturdy but a little junky. The pin is nicer, though garish.
Better promo item: More copies of the games. That crosses the line from “promo item” into “freebies,” but where PopCap’s ludicrously addictive games are concerned, we get kinda greedy.


Item:
Extra-large coffee mug
Promoting: Onion News Network on IFC
Relevance: Extremely high. The debut of the hard-hittingest news program ever to hit hard could only be announced by a coffee mug that easily holds 12 ounces of the black stuff. Our sister publication’s hilarious new television show, which debuts January 21 on IFC, will become as important to Americans as coffee, too. Plus, it’s emblazoned with the tagline “a tomahawk of truth in the skull of lies,” which is pretty badass.
Quality: Unparalleled. You thought your coffee cup was badass? Fuck you.
Better promo item: An alarm clock that rings every time a new episode of Onion News Network airs.