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Distributors Criticize CA Governor’s Ad Specialty Ban


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Distributors are voicing their displeasure following Governor Jerry Brown’s decision to order California state agencies to stop buying promotional products. Brown, who referred to ad specialties as “doodads and plastic gewgaws” during a press conference on Friday, 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 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.”

Zachary Tyler, executive vice president of San Francisco-based Creative Marketing Concepts (asi/170631), considers Brown’s comments damaging to small businesses in California. “We have a number of significant projects funded by the state,” he says. “What he’s doing is detrimental. We thought about moving out of California in the past. We’ll see how this plays out, but it’s in the back of our minds.”

Despite Brown’s state order, Memo Kahan, president of Counselor Top 40 distributor PromoShop (asi/300446), is optimistic the ban either won’t happen or won’t last. “We just need to keep exposing the fact that ad specialties are an impactful and well-received marketing vehicle,” he says. “They’re something the government and businesses should use to communicate and promote.”

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

Do you think California’s mandate to stop state agencies from purchasing promotional items will be adopted by other states? Click here to take our poll now.

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