Blast From the Past


What’s new? I asked it of every supplier at my first industry trade show way back in 1995. I mean, that’s the thing to do when you walk the show floor, right?

Since that plebeian adventure, my repertoire has evolved. Now I ask: “How’s business?” or “Any major moves in the year ahead?” before I ask “What’s new?”

“New” in and of itself, can be pure semantics. Take for example a water bottle; surely nothing new there, but it can be new for a variety of reasons – the supplier is offering it for the first time; it’s made from new materials; there’s an enhancement to the design; there’s a new attachment; it comes in new colors, etc. You get the picture.

Something else to consider is, that if you’ve never sold a particular product before, it’s new to you. Likewise, if your client has never used a coffee mug in a promotion, it’s a new product to them. But over time, some new products lose every bit of appeal whatsoever. When was the last time you sold an ice pick, or an ashtray?

So, should we abandon new products altogether? No, but rather than asking “what’s new?” consider saying to a supplier, “I’m working on a new product launch for a client; how does your product fit in?” Anyway, let’s look at some of the “new products” we featured in show reports in Counselor magazines from years gone by.


The Vicap was at times a visor and at times a cap. But what if you wanted to be a true rebel? Could you don the cap part without the visor part? From October 1993

The little PC monitor actually held 3 ¼” diskettes. Today, that same products holds, maybe, paper clips and rubber bands. From March 1994

Why does a car air freshener that is molded to look like a “cellular phone” make it more appealing? And I love the words “cellular phone,” no one calls them that anymore. From March 1997


Monomals were monitor covers that turned your computer into a fuzzy, cartoon-like character. Just what you wanted to see when you walked into your accountant or lawyer’s office. From September 1998


The editor I was with said to the older gentleman exhibiting this product, “Slide me a sample and I can get you some ink on that bad boy.” True story. That bad boy? Well it was a bib with pockets so when walking a trade show floor, the wearer could load it up with catalogs. From March 1998