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California Promo Ban Concerns Distributors
Vol. 792 
February 22, 2011

In a decision meant to help cut the state's budget deficit, California Governor Jerry Brown has instructed all state agencies to stop purchasing promotional items. Brown, who referred to ad specialties as "doodads and plastic gewgaws" during a press conference, says California has spent $7.5 million on promotional products since 2007. "We don't need that stuff,” Brown said. “Not a cent of taxpayer money should be spent on flashlights, ashtrays or other unnecessary items, most of which likely end up in landfills.”

In response, distributors believe Brown is not only misguided but also misinformed. "He's obviously not talked to any marketing gurus that would tell him the amount of money ad specialties save companies," said Sam Knox, vice president of San Diego-based Clever Advantage Inc. (asi/163117). "It's unbelievable he would say what he did. He used promotional products in his campaign. I sure have seen a lot of Jerry Brown bumper stickers around."

Indeed, some in California are calling Brown's new initiative against promotional products just a symbolic gesture that doesn't get to the core of the state's budget problems. California Republican Party Chairman Ron Nehring said that Brown's ban on ad specialties is nothing more than a diversion. "Let's get real," he said. "Jerry Brown's war on swag is a distraction from his reluctance to confront the cows sacred to the state's government employee unions."

Industry distributors are concerned that the new ban on promotional products by government offices in California will spread to other states, as the focus on budget-cutting intensifies. In a poll on since the news from California broke, 59% of industry professionals said they believe that other states will follow California's lead by telling their state agencies to stop purchasing ad specialty items. "If we do nothing, the bans will spread," says David Woods, president of Counselor Top 40 distributor AIA Corporation (asi/109480). "It is in our hands. It requires constant attention and lobbying by all of us on the local level to sell the value of promotional products."

Brown, who took office for his third non-consecutive term as California's governor in January, is proposing $12.5 billion in cuts to state spending, along with substantial tax increases. Brown also recently ordered a hiring freeze and cut back on state cell phones and vehicles as part of his effort to reduce a $25 billion budget deficit.

To let Governor Jerry Brown hear your feelings on the issue, go to or call (916) 445-2841. You can also send concerns about his latest decision to his Facebook page at

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