Take a free pen?

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At banks, at hotels: there must be millions of promotional pens circulating out there, vying for your attention. Aside from a couple of oversized Chase pens that fit nicely into my son’s hands, I tend to ignore them, picky, as I am, about what I use to write. Of course, if by chance they make their way into my home, I feel a certain obligation to use them up, though I like to relegate them to the car, where there never seems to be a pen when I need one.

And yet they still circulate. How many promotional pens is one offered in the course of a year? In a lifetime? Beyond grade school, when specific school supplies are dictated from on high, pens must be the single easiest item to go through your life without purchasing.

What do you do with branded pens?

8 thoughts on “Take a free pen?

  1. Very informative article, thanks for sharing. Promotional products are cost effective marketing tool. Having your company name and logo printed on these items will surely boost brand awareness for your business. While customer’s constant use of these items guarantees a lot of exposure for your brand. For promo items from Australia you may also visit http://www.davarni.com.au/

  2. I love getting all promotional pens and pencils and so does my family. I have a few friends that gather the ones they do not want in zip lock bags.They then give them to me.I check to see which ones write the best for me. I have carpal tunnel and arthritis in my hands. So, I choose a few of the gel type pens.My children and my husband usually take two or three each. I give the rest to my youngest daughters school office they give some to the library and teachers as needed. We some times decorate all the pens and pencils before we give them away. We have had request to decorate a lot of pens and pencils over the years.If we have the time to devote to decorating the pens and pencils. We only request that they pay for the craft supplies. In ever throw them away unless they do not work and not refillable.Sometimes we keep the springs,the grippers at the ends of the pens as craft supplies before we throw them away. Mom of 8.

  3. I’m a school librarian and the kids never seem to have a pen. I collect the freebies and just give them out as needed.

  4. True story: When I was a kid (60s & 70s), my Dad was a manager at a company called Union Pen and Pencil Co. (Unipeco for short). At that time, Unipeco was HQed in Yonkers, NY. All they did was promo pens (all ballpoints as I recall) and mechanical pencils.

    As a kid, my Dad used to bring me with him to work sometimes. I can still smell the molten plastic from the molding machines and I remember big barrels of the plastic pellets they’d pour into them. I remember the machines that wound thin wire into the little springs, and the ones that printed “ACME Piano Keys” (or whatever) on the barrels.

    So we were swimming in promo pens, believe me. In fact, Dad used to bring home boxes of parts for given orders (caps, barrels, springs, ratchets, and refills). He paid me a pittance to sit and assemble pens on one of those folding metal TV dinner tables while watching the tube in the evenings. I put together many, many thousands of them.

    By the end of the 70s, or early 80s maybe, the company moved to Florida, so my pen-assembly days came to an end.

    Also true: My first fountain pen came from that place. I found a Parker 51 in a drawer and my Dad said I could have it. I kept that pen, non-functional (aerometric but probably badly clogged) for years until I found FPN and got the bug. I remembered the old pen and dug it out, and sent it to Ron Zorn for an overhaul. Still have it and still use it.

    • Great story David. It’s cool you found an old Parker 51 and saved it, which led to a pleasurable pasttime. I remember one Christmas as a child receiving a Parker fountain pen and being totally befuddled on how to use it because I hadn’t developed the fine motor skills necessary to position the nib properly to the paper. But I loved the smell of that ink! Sad to say I lost track of that pen, but I recently found a ’51 for a dollar at a housesale and have taken up the fountain pen hobby in a very minor way.

      As to the OP, Doctors’ offices get some pretty high quality promo pens from pharmaceutical reps, but most pen freebies are terrible junk. My idea of a (nearly free) cheap pen is your bog standard Bic Cristal. Some people hate ’em, but I don’t think I’ve ever run across one that didn’t do its job reasonably well. My whole life I’ve made a point to hold onto them as best I can until I’ve used up all the ink. That act is so strangely, nerdily satisfying.

  5. oh, I loathe promotional pens — it creates such waste!
    Usually they are cheapo pens that don’t write well, and so people either toss them into the trash or are frustrated every time they use them (… which i think would subconsciously link the frustration to the advertisement, hmm..)

    I wish that we would move away from having so much disposable stuff. Especially promotional items. How many branded trinkets do we need? le sigh.

  6. I don’t take them when offered, but if they end up mailed to me, they float around the junk drawer until they get used up.

    I’m very picky about my pen. I used to have a horrible writing callous, and when I switched to my current pen (PaperMate PhD Multi), it went entirely away. You almost can’t tell which hand is my writing hand. So I don’t use anything except my pen when I’m writing for extended periods.

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