The event aimed to raise the profile of promotional merchandising including printed products, which is worth more than £765m, said association deputy-general Gordon Glenister. The week was a first in the BPMA’s 48-year history, he added.

Initiatives included a dedicated website,, an awareness-raising campaign including 300 Brunel University students, the handing out of promotional products including branded cupcakes and window stickers, and activity on Twitter and Facebook.

“The print and promotional industry are not great on social media and we are desperately trying to educate them. This week was a great vehicle for us to share content,” he said. “It was not just focusing on the BPMA but individual members including suppliers and distributors.

“Our event was supported by almost 600 members who conducted their own marketing campaigns around the week and promoted it in their own regions and to their own clients to raise awareness of the importance of promotional work and what they do.”

Highlight of the week was a House of Commons dinner, where 25 members discussed issues such as trading standards and future challenges with MP and industry supporter MP Brian Binley. The week was also flagged up with a survey of 1,000 people.

It concluded the UK was “a nation of freebie hunters”, said Glenister: “Brands, companies and organisations should note that three in 10 consumers have changed their regular brand in order to receive a promotional product.”

Nearly half of consumers would switch brand for cooking accessories, while nearly 42% would switch for a coffee mug. Other popular items included fizzy-drink branded glasses, cuddly toys, and cosmetic purses or tote bags. Many products are kept and used such as pens, T-shirts and keyrings.

“The power and attraction of promotional merchandise is clearly demonstrated, with almost a sixth of consumers saying they would use devious means such as giving out false personal details or gaining uninvited entry to a venue or event, to get an item. The most fibbed-for item was toiletries.”

Nearly half said ‘significant’ branding was acceptable, whereas a third said it should be ‘subtle’. In the current economic difficulties nearly three-fifths of consumers were more likely to keep freebies than before the recession. One in 10 would give a free branded product as a gift.

Glenister said: “Promotional merchandise is far more than just a freebie. Used correctly it delivers powerful and positive advertising messages, as well as a thank you. Our recent research showed branded gifts can deliver a higher or equal return on investment than most forms of advertising.”