Open Letter to Gov. Jerry Brown

28 02 2011

Dear Governor Brown,

Last week, in an attempt to ease California’s budget deficit, you ordered state agencies to stop using promotional products to as a means to market their programs and services.  I was born in California and lived there for 25 years – I certainly understand the mess the state is in.  What I don’t understand is why you chose to ban one form of marketing but not others.  I don’t understand why you specifically went after promotional products:

“Not a cent of taxpayer money should be spent on flashlights, ashtrays or other unnecessary items, most of which likely end up in landfills.”

Pardon my tone, but are you really qualified to determine what kind of marketing is effective?  Speaking of things ending up in landfills, did you know that 99% of all direct mail is thrown away?  Why didn’t you ban direct mail?  I know why – because that mail is delivered by government employees.  Why didn’t you ban TV ads?  Well, we all know that it’s not smart for politicians to upset folks in entertainment.  And why not get rid of billboard advertising?  Oh that’s right, billboard company CBS Outdoor donates money to your art school charity – not to public schools, but to your hand-chosen art schools – so you better not upset the billboard guys.

And what about the products you are banning?  The “plastic gewgaws” as you call them.  Things like buttons, mugs, bags, bumper stickers, and t-shirts.

If using logoed merchandise is not a good way to promote your message, then why did you use so much of it in your election campaign?  You remember the election, the one where you and Meg Whitman fought tooth and nail to see who could spend the most money?

Governor Brown, I have no problem with you cutting spending – it must be done.  But why are you picking on promotional products instead of all forms of marketing?  Clearly you believe this is an effective form of marketing or you would not have used it.  If you want to cut marketing spending then cut it all – TV, radio, mail, billboards – ban all of it, or LEGALIZE PROMO!!!

I welcome your comment.

Follow updates on Facebook:  Legalize Promo



9 responses

28 02 2011
Evan Milton

Touche’ !

28 02 2011
Joe Hoffmann

How do you calculate the residual value of a TV/radio spot or print ad once it has been ‘consumed’? Many, if not all, promotional products provide a utility that has duration beyond a fleeting moment of the viewers attention – it’s part of the value equation that make promotional products work.

Thanks for the cogent argument Brad.

1 03 2011
Brad White

Hey Joe. I actually wrote this blog twice. First I wrote about how promotional products are effective – then I rewrote it as Jerry Brown made that point for me when he used them in his election campaign.

28 02 2011
Open Letter to Gov. Jerry Brown | Big Promotions Blog

[…] via WHITE THREADS. […]

28 02 2011

I can definitely see where you’re coming from. A lot of these actions – cutting off cell phones, cars, and now promotional marketing, is largely symbolic. It’s to show the taxpayers that he’s really serious -since he has to get his budget approved by the GOP and then us. I agree with direct mail. I’d rather have a Jerry Brown pen than a flyer that will end up in my recycling bin.

28 02 2011
Chris Miller

Brown is WEAKSAUCE! Typical politician. Hypocrisy is their game and it will never change…

1 03 2011
Brice Dick

It wont be long before the press catches him in a seedy motel room with his SWAG BAGS hanging out and then he will reach for the Promo Boxers he has on the floor that read “Jerry Brown….Lets Get California Working Again. He’s a user……he’s just in denial.

8 03 2011
Barb Hendrickson

I would venture to guess that promotional product expenditures are so far down the list of unnecessary spending in CA that it’s easy to feel that our industry is being targeted. Most likely it’s just one more case of a politician’s knee-jerk reaction to something without understanding the ramifications. (Look at the effect Obama’s off-handed comment about “boondoggles to Vegas” had on incentive travel and how long it’s taking that segment to recover – he could have saved/created jobs by keeping his mouth shut. I’d encourage Governor Brown to do the same).

Also – in other industry discussions you suggested that our leaders should get involved; spreading the message to corporate America that “business improvement starts here” is Job One of the Incentive Marketing Association; we’d love to have you join us! (

24 08 2011

Brad, I really liked this article–especially the images of promotional products Brown used himself. Pictures speak 1000 words.

I’ve written several articles on how effective promotional items are & how to use them so they work for you by targeting your audience. These posts expanded Joe Hoffman’s comments (above)–he said it all very nicely……..promotional products are necessary, highly effective & more economical than most other forms of advertising. If Jerry Brown really wanted to save money then he should ban other styles of advertising & keep the promotional items.

I would like to talk to you about using your letter on my blog or asking you to be a guest writer where you’d use your own letter. Interested?

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