Counselor Commentary: The Power Of A T-Shirt

People Love Receiving T-Shirts

Andy CohenWhen you sell something every day – by the thousands – you can probably forget the impact that item can have on the people who receive them. Sometimes, though, you can get a powerful reminder of just how important promotional products can be. That was extremely evident recently when I attended an elementary school fundraiser in New York.

With the sun shining on a beautiful spring day, more than 500 students from kindergarten through eighth grade gathered to walk 1.5 miles around their school’s neighborhood. Plus, a carnival with games, prizes, more cans of silly string than humanly imaginable, and a barbecue lunch was on tap following the walk. It was all set up to benefit the Ronald McDonald House, a charity that helps local sick children. Carnival games each cost money to play, silly string was for sale, hot dogs, hamburgers, chips, and drinks were all in abundance. And, every penny raised during the day would be given to the school’s chosen charity.

Plus, there were T-shirts – everywhere. Each student received a crisp white T-shirt (made by industry supplier Keya, asi/64602) that had logos screen printed onto the front and backs of each shirt. The designs included both the school’s annual walk and the Ronald McDonald House logos. And, all of the staff, teachers, and walk volunteers were given red shirts with identical logos – the better to have them stand out in the children’s sea of white.

The power of those T-shirts was two-fold. Number one, the school also sold extra shirts besides the ones they gave out to students and teachers. Those additional sales of the t-shirts garnered more than $1,000 in sales to families. The second aspect was a little less tangible but just as powerful. You see, the kids absolutely loved these T-shirts. Maybe it was that they were wearing exactly what their friends were wearing for one day, but the pride they had in sporting these shirts was palpable. Sure, they got dirty during the carnival and within the avalanche of silly string that the school’s playground became.

But, ultimately, they simply loved receiving those shirts. In fact, some of the older kids turned the T-shirts into yearbooks of sorts, as they had each of their friends sign it with permanent marker at the end of the day.

It became a memento, a trophy even, that they could have in their drawers and closets for the rest of their lives. It was the thing that they’d remember their fifth-grade (or fourth, or sixth, or second) experience with. That’s the power of a T-shirt and of a promotional product, and it’s something that distributors and suppliers should remember every time they fulfill an order.

Oh, by the way, the school raised more than $15,000 for the Ronald McDonald House. You can bet the T-shirts were critical to the success of the overall program.