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

Baby You Can Drive My Car (But Only If You Give Me a Pen First …)

Filed under: Fun, Personal

Hi Everyone!

Hope you’re all doing well and reveling in the fan-freakin-tastic summer-tease weather we’re having!

Me, I’m loving it for a multitude of reasons, not the least of which is that I recently bought a new convertible that I adore. I waited way too long to get a new car because — like 99% of the population (I did a survey — really!) — I’d rather gargle with shards of glass than submit to the car-buying experience. Few things are as laborious or annoying. And silly me, I thought that since I knew the type of car I wanted, it would be an easy process. (Insert eye roll and pained sigh here.)

So, leave it to me to show up on a cold, rainy, dreary day in February to test-drive my beloved convertible. It was coup de foudre (“love at first sight,” as the French say), so I pulled out my checkbook and prepared to pay in full, in cash. I say that not to sound like a diva, but because — in this economy — wouldn’t you think the car dealership would show me a little appreciation and love by way of lavishing ad specialties on me?

Let me end the suspense. Not only did the (very nice) guy who sold me the car fail to offer me any promo items with the dealership’s (one of the largest in this area of PA) logo on them, but he astonishingly asked me if he could borrow a pen when we were signing the paperwork. Really??? I mean, at the bare minimum, pens with the dealership’s logo should have been ubiquitous. You know what else would have been nice? A tote bag filled with an ice scraper, a tire gauge, a blanket, an emergency kit and an autoshade. Just sayin’.


My friend Lisa Bennett, the multi-line goddess based in Chicago, had a fabulous suggestion: A company she reps, Toddy Gear (asi/91411; www.toddygear.com), carries these snazzy little antimicrobial, double-sided cloths that clean, buff and polish smooth surfaces — ideal for the screen on the built-in navigation system/satellite radio in the new car. I now have some of these, courtesy of Lisa — not the dim bulbs at the car dealership.

That’s my frustration: There are TONS of cool items like this one that would be perfect for the auto market available in our industry. Why doesn’t the dealership I dealt with know about them? Because, I think, they’re not being properly promotionally serviced. Consequently, I implore local distributorships to call on them now, with voluminous amounts of case histories and bags of samples in tow.

So, I ask you: Am I just spoiled and suffering from a sense of ad specialty entitlement because of the industry we’re in? Am I wrong to expect at least a logoed pen when buying a new car? Also, I’ve never been one of those people to name her car, but this blue/grey metallic convertible is so zazzy, I’m thinking about it. Any suggestions? The one who comes up with the winning name gets a $50 gift card and a ride in my car next time you’re in Philly. 

Cheers, and more next week, when I’ll be in Guangzhou, China, for the Canton Show (or, as I call it, “Dante’s Ninth Circle of Hell”) and Hong Kong for the Gifts & Premiums Show. Stay tuned for lots of commentary and photos of the coolest new products and nastiest seafood you could ever contemplate. ; )

— M


  1. Donn James Says:

    It will be winter soon enough so you should name it Slider. Or if Kathy & the rest of the editorial crowd make you do the fast food runs now, you could call it Hungry Games.

    Tuesday April 17, 2012
  2. Jeff Solomon, MAS Says:

    I use promo products for hotel and car rental upgrades. On our annual trip to Hawaii, I always schmooze for a convertible and normally get it. Since in rains all the time in Hawaii, it drives my wife crazy that I will drive that dang convertible in the rain. Why? Because we have it. Enjoy your new car!

    On a side note to this topic, here’s a hilarious King of Queens clip that I added subtitles to. It clearly illustrates the Seductive Power of a Pen. http://bit.ly/IwbP6L

    Tuesday April 17, 2012
  3. Roger Burnett Says:

    Car dealers operate on tight margins, so they are very slow to offer anything beyond normal expectations…..perhaps they could use some consulting on the value of the buying experience…..

    Wednesday April 18, 2012
  4. Michele Bell Says:

    Well, look at you, Rock Star Roger, getting all business on us! ; )Your point about the car dealerships is well taken, but… I don’t care! I’m going to be a word that rhymes with “itch” and take a stand: If I’m buying a new car, I want some cool promo products as a thank you! Thanks for writing and hope to see you soon, Babycakes! 😉

    Wednesday April 18, 2012
  5. Bruce Neumann Says:

    I sell a local car dealer jars of cookies that they give to anyone who purchases a car. They tie it into their local TV/radio ads. I have found, however, that most dealerships don’t want to spend the money. Roger’s right- margins on new car sales are tight. They DO however make plenty of money on used cars and the service departments!
    Oh, and BTW, I will confirm that Lisa Bennett is a Promo-Goddess!

    Wednesday April 18, 2012
  6. Michele Bell Says:

    Hi Bruce! Thanks so much for posting! I love, love, love your cookie jar idea — that totally would have placated me and made me happy. That’s a really smart promo idea to pitch, so kudos to you! And yes, Ms. Bennett is the cat’s meow. ; )
    — M

    Wednesday April 18, 2012
  7. Lisa Bennett Says:

    Awwwwwwwwww you guys, I am blushing! Um, is it bad that I ordered new business cards that say “Promo Goddess” as the title?

    Thursday April 19, 2012
  8. I Like Ringtones 64 Says:

    Quite interesting, not like here. I do not know exactly what to say, but at least I want to thank you once more :)

    Saturday July 14, 2012

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