Editor's Letter

Power Gauge

It was a perfect time to get a group of industry influencers together. With ad specialty sales declining in the third quarter of 2008 and many in the market bracing for more decreases in the fourth quarter and throughout 2009, ASI convened its second annual Power Summit last month. The conference took place at The Breakers in Palm Beach, FL, and while the Counselor Power 50 members were honored during the event, the overall goal was to give attendees an outlet to network with their peers on the most important industry topics today.

One issue on the minds of just about all of the more than 250 participants during the conference: Product safety. “We don’t want to find ourselves in the same situation as the toy industry,” said Trevor Gnesin, the head of supplier firm Logomark (asi/67866), during one of the education panel sessions on the first day of the Power Summit, which is covered in this issue beginning on page 114. “We can’t wait for government to tell us to become compliant. We need to become educated now and deal with and invest in it.”

Ultimately, the point that Gnesin and others on the panel were making was that if the ad specialty industry can become a model for product safety and compliance, then the market will come out in front with end-users when the economy turns around. Good advice from a powerful group of people.

Speaking of power, this month we unveil the Counselor Power 50, our ranking of the most powerful and influential people in the industry in 2008. This is the third year that we’ve compiled such a list – and I encourage you to meet the Power 50 members, beginning on page 89. It’s made up of both distributors and suppliers, and it even includes some surprises – people who have a large impact on the way business is done in the ad specialty market, but who don’t operate in the traditional industry themselves.

This year, we asked each of the Power 50 to weigh in with their thoughts on the credit crisis, how the economy will impact the overall ad specialty industry in 2009, whether the green movement is a boom or a bust, and how they think a looming talent shortage could affect industry companies. Their answers are highly revealing and educational.

Overall, most of the Power 50 members are bearish about the industry’s outlook for 2009. Comments like these from Marc Simon, the president and CEO of Halo/Lee Wayne (asi/356000), are the norm: “Sales are bound to be off for most industry companies, particularly for those focused on customers in vulnerable industries.”

However, some have a positive view of the market in 2009. “We’re budgeting for growth, although at modest levels,” said Gene Geiger, president of Geiger (asi/202900). “I am always bullish on sales,” said Chuck Fandos, president of Gateway CDI (asi/202515). “We get better as an industry no matter what and always create new customers and new needs.”

As the industry faces an uncertain outlook and some serious issues such as product safety and overcoming the pharmaceutical industry’s new marketing guidelines, please join me and some of the members of this year’s Power 50 next month at The ASI Show in Orlando for an educational lunch session. On January 3, education day during the show, I’ll be moderating a panel discussion titled “Future Watch: The 6 Biggest Trends Impacting The Advertising Specialty Industry In 2009.”

With three Top 40 distributors and three Top 40 suppliers represented on the panel, we’ll be sharing ideas for overcoming the industry’s challenges and coming up with growth strategies for 2009. One issue sure to be discussed is the return on investment of promotional products and how distributors can prove their value to clients. Well, ASI just released a groundbreaking research report called the Advertising Specialties Impressions Study, which analyzes the cost-per-impression of promotional products. While the full report is covered in this issue beginning on page 120, I’ll give you a little tease here: ad specialties are proven to have a better cost-per-impression than just about all other advertising options.

So, come join us at The ASI Show in Orlando on January 3 to find out more strategies to make your 2009 a great year. Go to www.asishow.com for information. I hope to see you there.

Enjoy the issue!

Andy Cohen, Editor

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