I have grappled with the complexities of gizzits for donkey’s years. Gizzits for those of you unfamiliar with the term are basically corporate freebies used externally for marketing purposes at trade shows, conferences and the like, and internally, typically to celebrate something.

According to ARRSEPedia, the font of all spurious knowledge for the British Army, the word gizzit derives from the traditional army habit of acquiring souvenirs whilst ‘abroad’. “That’s shiny, gizzit ‘ere!” so the story goes.

For military invasion read trade show. We’ve all seen them. Roughnecks marauding from stand to stand hunting down stress balls, garish ballpoints and shiny memory sticks with sadly inadequate memories. If they get really lucky, they track down the holy grail of trade show gizzits, the mobile phone deck chair.

Note my slightly dishonest use of the third person plural here. Admit it. We’ve all done it…

My real interest in the science of gizzitology is in the internal use of corporate gifts, where they attract greater levels of variance in terms of perceived disposability and value. By value, I don’t really mean financial value, for there is none. Unless of course you count the money saved by not buying them in the first place. No folks, the true value of a gizzit is measured in emotional equity. And this is where things get tricky.

I’ve never worked anywhere where your own branded merchandise is not highly prized. It’s amazing how much emotional value there is in a baseball cap, T shirt or pack of cards dished out, preferably with no strings attached. The road to gizzit nirvana is however strewn with potholes and dangerous bends. There is a very thin line between success and failure when you play with people’s emotions.

If you get it right, nothing beats the power of a gizzit to raise spirits. If you get it wrong, damp squibs and chocolate teapots spring to mind. The challenge is to make sure that the the internal use of gizzits is appropriate, proportionate, timely, on-brand, culturally acceptable, equitable and hits the gizzit-spot (let’s call it the g-spot) of every recipient.

If they are not dished out to everybody at the same time, the ‘have nots’ can get very uppity, even if they know it is on the way. So the logistics have to be spot on. If a particular team or location is earmarked for exclusive gizzitry, those left out will be unforgiving.

Perhaps the hardest thing is getting around the “one size fits all” issue. For example, there is often a bit of a divide between what a senior director would value versus the preference of a front-line customer service representative. Another trophy for the cabinet is great if you have a trophy cabinet. Or even a desk. To someone who hot-desks every day, this is unlikely to land as well. Closely aligned to this is cultural fit. Why would you give a USB memory stick to a work force that doesn’t use computers, or a crystal paperweight to a dynamic young paperless internet company?

So my questions are thus.

  • Are gizzits worth the time, effort and cost or should you consider other forms of internal recognition and celebration that are less problematic?

  • What is the best gizzit ever to land on your desk?

  • What is the worst, most inappropriate or lame gizzit you have ever been given?

2 thoughts on “Gizzits

  1. Love this post Jon! Best gizzits I’ve received/distributed over the years – I gave away ‘A Wii a day if you have your say’ in employee survey prize draw of all completed ones, which meant purchasing 20 of them (and no I’m not going to reveal which company I was working for at the time ;)).

    Branded lanyards are hot property on the railway. But to answer your questions properly:

    – I think gizzits can be worth the time, effort and cost if they are part of a comprehensive campaign/strategy and add value. Should never be stand alone item and simply ‘appear’ on desks/at worksites with no link to what on earth they relate to. Whacking a post-it pad on everyone’s desk with the latest logo does not make for an engaging brand launch! I always recommend the team involved floor walk to use opportunity to have f2f conversation with their target audience.

    – Best gizzit was a tape measure to gauge diabetes risk, as created huge talking point and was tied into wider programme. Followed by a natty laptop bag at a different company when I was visiting another office overseas; shame they didn’t take into account everyone’s luggage allowance though and had to ship them all back… (again not revealing where that was, but am sure any bulk buy savings were cancelled out!).

    – Worst, most inappropriate or lame gizzit – has to be those ‘bug’ things – the little balls of fluff with material coming out of their backsides with corporate messages in tiny unreadable fonts. Lame-a-rama – and usually closely followed by emails from Facility/IT departments reminding people of ‘clear desk’ policies and not to deface company property with such items.

  2. Thanks Rachel, I certainly agree that they need to be part of a comprehensive campaign and add value. My own favourite was a company branded packet ot Haribo jellies in the shape of poker chips. Far too iconic to even think about eating. I suspect I’m easily pleased. The worst tend to be pens. If someone could invent a pen with an unbreakable pocket clip I’d be impressed. Why do those things break off so easily?

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s