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Counselor Senior Editor Michele Bell's slanted view of the world.

Primo Show for Promo East!

Filed under: Editorial, Fun, Travel

Hi Everyone!

Last week was the Promotions East Show in Atlantic City (or, as I refer to it, the Hellmouth of the East Coast). Despite the fact that it is not an easy place to get to unless you’re from NJ or Philly, people flock to this show and for good reason – it’s one of the two biggest regional shows (SAAC’s August show in Long Beach, CA, being the other) and a solidly good, mid-year event that attracts top-tier ad specialty professionals. (Another factor could be the world-famous “White House” cheesesteaks and hoagies, which have developed a rabid, cult-like following among show-goers.)

Exhibitors I spoke with were thrilled with the steady traffic and quality of the distributors in attendance, as well as the smooth and efficient way the show is run. The education sessions were well attended, and if there was one thing I noticed from the very first day, it’s that there was a lot more diversity in the attendees. It was great to see, long overdue and very welcome.

I’m told that the Taste of the Regionals party, held last Tuesday night, attracted nearly 1,000 industry revelers and I can tell you exactly why. Over the last few years, the party has emerged as one of the industry’s best events. Truly, I don’t know anyone who attends this fun fete who doesn’t have a blast. Kudos to the show’s organizers and event planners for another great job!

Decked out in The Wizard of Oz costumes, the PPAM board celebrated their local claim to fame (they’re from KS, MO and NE) and walked away with the award in the Best Showmanship category. With a welcoming “yellow brick road” at the entrance leading to a tasty table of toasted ravioli representing St. Louis and pulled pork BBQ from Kansas City, Dorothy, Toto and the gang were on hand to greet and serve members from all across the nation. “We had the most fun we’ve ever had at the Taste of the Regionals,” said Joe Keely, PPAM president. “It was worth the smiles and ‘courage’ it took to dress up.”

(From left to right): Wendy Franklin, MAS, Geiger; John Short, Ariel; Becky Blair, MAS, Geiger; Joe Keely, MAS, QuickPoint; Ted Fuehr, Incentives International.

When at trade shows, I have long kidded Ron Ball, ASI’s vice president of supplier sales and my work husband, that the client dinners he hosts are like Bar Mitzvahs because of their sheer size – sometimes 50 people get invited. Seriously … all that’s missing is the Rabbi and the group “Hava Nagilia” singalong. At the dinner he hosted last Monday night in Atlantic City at Carmine’s in the Tropicana, it was an intimate – and fun – group of 12. I had the pleasure to meet some suppliers like Meena and Paul Chabria from Pressalite and David Cohen and Mark Gies from Inventor’s Workshop, as well as some old friends. While much alcohol was consumed, no one drank enough (mercifully) to lift Ron up in a chair and dance him around the restaurant.

See below for many photos from last week’s festivities!

More next week!

Cheers —


Meena Chabria, shown here (left) runs Pressalite with her husband, Paul, and is someone I had never met before despite the fact that she’s been in the industry for decades. She could not have been sweeter… Paula Shulman, on the other hand, is someone everyone in the industry knows! The head of sales for
Counselor Top 40 supplier Prime Line, Paula is whip-smart and the very deserving recipient of this year’s Counselor “Woman of Distinction” award. She is a pistol – which, in my world, is one of the highest compliments I give.

(Clockwise): Bob Lederer, founder of
Counselor Top 40 supplier Prime and the only person to be awarded Counselor “Person of the Year” and “International Person of the Year” awards, chats with Paul Chabria, the president/CEO of Pressalite and Mark Hobbs (aka “McDreamy”), president of Dey Rey Nuts. As Mark’s fond of saying, he now knows what it feels like to work in a nut house. Come to ASI, Mark… then you’ll REALLY know!

Me (left) and my pal Nadine Panetti, vice president of CA-based PromoBiz. As I have a habit of giving nicknames to those I’m fondest of in the industry, Australian-born Nadine is the “Saucy Aussie.” I think the reason we get along so well is because neither of us have an “edit” filter on our mouths…

Paula Shulman and Mark Gies, who’s with the supplier Inventor’s Workshop. Mark was in remarkably good spirits considering he had just sliced his hand with a box cutter while setting up his booth and had to be stitched up at a local hospital. Toddler that I am, I don’t handle pain well at all and would have been attached to an IV drip if I was in Mark’s situation. (And it is here that I hear Tim Andrews’ voice in my head: “For that to happen, you’d actually have to DO something like set up a booth…”)

Me, David Cohen – Mark’s colleague at Inventor’s Workshop – and Jeff Lederer, executive vice president at Prime. For those of you who read my
Counselor cover story on price increases in the June issue, Jeff is one of the people who was integral to me getting the facts correct. His time and help was invaluable to my article.

Jeff Lederer, who is in dire need of a nickname from me… I am now taking suggestions.

Inventor’s Workshop’s David Cohen and I, enjoying a fantastic dinner (and many cocktails) at Carmine’s. David was delightful to sit next to, though I’m sure his hearing is now slightly impaired after an evening within ear-shot of me.

Cliff Quicksell and I, who have been friends for 11 years, doing our best “Zoolander” poses over cocktails at the Tun Tavern. (For the record, I am “Blue Steel” and Cliff is “Magnum”…). For those of you who attend the Promotions East Show, you know that the Tun Tavern is the perfect place to meet for lunch or for a cocktail after the show – it’s literally right next to the Atlantic City Convention Center, making it logistically lovely.

ASI’s new trade show booth makes its debut. With the intent of having a stronger presence at regional shows, the 20′ x 20′ booth is 16′ high and was easily identifiable. Here, Cathy Martino, director of ASI’s affiliate program, welcomes people into the booth under the ever-watchful eyes of “Dear Leader” Tim Andrews.

Charley Johnson, half of the dynamic duo at SnugZ, expresses shock over seeing me on the show floor before noon.

ASI’s marketing boy toys Colin Graf (left) and Jake Krolick sport some swanky ASI apparel while hosting a reception ASI held for distributors at the Tun Tavern.

Candace Hershey (who may be the one person with a wackier name than mine… she’s listed in the PA phone book as “Hershey Candy”…), who oversees ASI’s ESP department and I at ASI’s distributor reception. She’s been with ASI since January and has made quite impression both at the company and in the industry… she is, in a word, VIVACIOUS.

ASI’s distributor reception party at the Tun Tavern, held last Tuesday in the early evening, was quite the success.

Me, ASI’s ESP Diva Candace Hershey, Ross Silverstein and Promo Marketing editor Nikki Stella at the fun and festive OOPPS (Organization of Promotional Products Salespeople) reception, which drew a large crowd.

Ross Silverstein, CEO of
Counselor Top 40 distributor iPROMOTEu, graciously offered me a ride to the Taste of the Regionals party in his jeep. While we whipped through the streets of Atlantic City, Ross blasted awesome music from his iPod, including one of my favorites, “Excitable Boy” from Warren Zevon. While listening to the lyrics, it struck me that they could apply to Ross:

“Well, he went down to dinner in his Sunday best
Excitable boy, they all said
And he rubbed the pot roast all over his chest
Excitable boy, they all said

He took in the four a.m. show at the Clark
Excitable boy, they all said
And he bit the usherette’s leg in the dark
Excitable boy, they all said
Well, he’s just an excitable boy”

Kristin Jeannotte from OOPPS and Pat Caccamo, Ross Silverstein’s ever-present consigliore, hanging on for dear life in the back of Ross’s jeep on the way to the Taste of the Regionals party at the House of Blues in the Showboat casino.

Jim Espinoza of Medi-Facts and Harry Fotopoulos from Custom HBC Corp. enjoying their night at the Taste of the Regionals party.

Ariel’s John Short, who volunteered at the PPAM booth to serve yummy local food like pulled pork BBQ from Kansas, Missouri and Nebraska at the Taste of the Regionals party, looks hot though certainly not bothered.

iPROMOTEu’s Pat Caccamo, Ross Silverstein and my pal Scottie Nussinow share a rare quiet moment. Scottie now has a new industry venture, Plan B Associates, with industry veterans Joel Schaffer, Keith Annison and Stuart Putnam. To reach Scottie for more info, you can e-mail him at scott@planbassoc.com.

Medi-Facts’ Jim Espinoza sports a snazzy bow tie in an attempt to dress in formalwear for the Taste of the Regionals party.

Avaline’s Dan Burke, one of my new industry BFF’s, brings some cute boys over to me… mercifully, I was over-served and too tipsy to stab them with my stinger and bite their heads off.

Two things strike me about this photo: 1) I do believe that Dan’s eyes were moving independently and 2) Where in the world is my oil-absorbing face powder…

Jim Espinoza and an industry pal striking a party pose at the Taste of the Regionals.

My friend Dan Tawil, an AIA owner of iPromoWorx, and I. Dan is as clever as he is fun, and his promotional campaigns for his clients always leave me beyond impressed…

Lest you worry, Uncle Sam is alive and well… and bellied up to the bar at the Taste of the Regionals party.

Avaline’s Dan Burke, quite the nimble dancer, gets ready to spin and dip on the dance floor with a friend.

The Fearsome Foursome (from left): My pal “E” (Eddie Roth from Aunt Beth’s Cookie Keepers), “Jersey” Jeff Hinds from Rainkist, Avaline’s Dan Burke and Abu Rogers from Rainkist.

Here I am with E… Apparently, at some point in the evening I thought it would look attractive to let my tongue roll out of my mouth like Gene Simmons… or a basset hound.

The band who played the Taste of the Regionals party was fantastic… and ended the show with everyone’s favorite anthem, Journey’s “Don’t Stop Believin’…

Channeling his inner-Steve Perry, Avaline’s Dan Burke belts out Journey and proudly displays his uvula.

Abu Rogers and Jeff Hinds from Rainkist, as we arrived at the Irish Pub – an Atlantic City “institution” (and I mean that on a multitude of levels…) that’s open 24 hours.

(Clockwise): Avaline’s Dan Burke, Aunt Beth’s Cookie Keepers’ Eddie “E” Roth, ASI’s Laura Fisher and I at the Irish Pub, tangled together like a ball of mayhem.

When this gentleman sauntered out of the Irish Pub and nonchalantly said “hello” to me in a completely nonplussed fashion, I assumed the time to pay the bill for my long and prodigious past dabbling in hallucinogenics had come, and that seeing jolly leprechauns, big pink bunnies and Technicolor talking frogs would be hourly occurrences in my life. Mercifully, he was very real and I have the photo to prove it. I do, however, have a vague recollection of asking him if he had a spare box of Lucky Charms… Oy.

(From left): Avaline’s Dan Burke, Abu Rogers & Jeff Hinds from Rainkist, me and ASI’s Laura Fisher doing Irish Car Bombs at the Irish Pub. If you don’t know what an Irish Car Bomb is, you drop a shot of Bailey’s Irish Cream into a pint of Guinness and drink quickly. “Quickly” is the operative word… if you’re a “sipper,” as I am, the consistency changes from a yummy malted shake to congealed three-day-old oatmeal at a frightening clip.

Because we like to include people in our fun, my pals with me at the Irish Pub encouraged some industry people who were also at the Irish Pub to join in our Journey sing-along. They did not require a lot of coaxing…

ASI’s Laura Fisher, a Stones fan like myself, hopped up on her barstool at the Irish Pub and serenaded the crowd with “Beast of Burden,” much to their amusement and delight.


  1. Jake Says:

    Top notch work Bell! Your gonzo journalistic skills have fermented quite nicely.

    Thursday June 12, 2008
  2. Michele Bell Says:

    Yeah, ’cause no one “ferments” like I do, Jakey! ; )

    Thursday June 12, 2008
  3. Joe Haley Says:

    Hahaha. The ratio of oily-faced to non-oily-faced pictures is 8-4.

    Wednesday June 25, 2008
  4. Ray Caracol Says:

    My hat, complete with ballons, was custom designed 😉 That picture is starting to bring back memories….


    Monday July 7, 2008
  5. Anastasia Mack Says:


    Wednesday November 12, 2008

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