Bin Laden’s Death Causes Spike in Patriotic Promo Products

Navy SEAL caps, American flags and 9-11 goods hot sellers

TREVOSE, PAMay 4, 2011 – Companies selling promotional products with a patriotic bent are reporting super-size sales this week as news of the death of the 9-11 terrorist fueled nationalistic fire.

Erik Mickelson, operations manager of Northwest Embroidery in Washington, said the company started embroidering special Navy SEAL Team 6 hats, one carrying the imprint “We got him,” within 12 hours of Osama bin Laden’s death Sunday. Of three styles available, the Black Ops hat is the hottest seller, with 500 sold this week alone.

“It’s a cool hat and a lot of people like to show their patriotism,” said Mickelson. He said a jump in web hits from 100 to 2,000 a day was due partly to people finding his site while googling for info on the Special Forces unit that killed bin Laden in a surprise assault in Pakistan.

Military personnel are buying Northwest’s hats as well as families of service men and women serving overseas. Mickelson’s shipped items to Iraq and Afghanistan and throughout the U.S. this week.

“The promotional products industry has a history of turning on a dime and responding quickly to whatever the marketplace and news of the day commands, and this historic response and patriotic surge is no different,” said Timothy M. Andrews, president and CEO of the Advertising Specialty Institute.

Sales of Osama-related items like toilet paper imprinted with his face shot up this week.  Pinata Casa, a promo products company that offers 4-foot-tall pinatas, sold more $50 bin Laden piñatas in the last few days than they’ve sold in the last year. “Osama is one of our most popular piñatas,” said Gerald Zhou.

Matt Quinn, owner of Quinn Flags and Banners in Hanover, Pennsylvania, said his phones started ringing Monday morning. “It’s not like it was after 9/11, but we’ve definitively seen four times the sales,” said Quinn, adding that companies hand out flags during promotions. “A lot of companies are ordering now thinking that because of this we’ll run out and they won’t have them in time for Memorial Day.”

Daily business at Quinn’s increased about 400% since bin Laden was killed.  “We have over 3 million flags in stock today and more are being produced daily,” said Quinn. Other popular items include decorative pleated fans, patriotic bunting and American stick flags imprinted with a client’s name or website.

“The wooden sticks are perfect for companies promoting themselves during such a big year while showing great American pride,” said Quinn.

By coincidence, this week Northwest readied a shipment of 1,000 9-11 patches to police and fire personnel in Washington, Oregon, Idaho and Alaska. The company had planned to send the free gift before bin Laden’s death, to say “thanks” in advance of the coming 10-year anniversary.

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The Advertising Specialty Institute (ASI) is the largest education, media and marketing organization for the promotional product and advertising industry, offering award-winning publishing, marketing and ASI e-commerce services to over 26,000 members.