Swag Francais

I’ve just returned from vacation in France, where we spent one week traveling around the countryside in Provence and a second week in Paris. Anyone who knows me very well knows that when I leave on vacation, that’s it – I’m GONE. No work thoughts, no checking in with the office by phone or email. Thank goodness I’ve got great people to run the place while I’m away, and I really come back refreshed and ready for new challenges after being away for a couple of weeks.

So, even though I was in vacation mode, I did find myself noticing the swag over there in France (or more to the point, the lack of it). The French don’t seem to sport logos the way we Americans do, especially when it comes to clothing. For one thing, they don’t wear baseball caps. Ever. If you want to stand out as a tourist, just wear a baseball cap in Paris. If you see a French person wearing a hat, it will be a stylish one, sans logo. And no, Virginia, they don’t wear berets.

The other thing I just didn’t see was company-logo apparel in general. Every now and again we would go into a business or restaurant and see people in logo-decorated staff shirts, but never on the street. Again, the only people who seemed to be walking around with logo-embroidered shirts and jackets were tourists. As someone who notices this kind of thing, I thought it was really interesting. I think partly it’s because the French are more style-conscious than we are, and I also think they don’t identify as strongly with their work as many Americans do.

The one place where I really NOTICED a lot of logo action? Cups and glasses. Order an espresso in any cafe and it will come in a cute little logo-decorated cup (often with a cute, matching, logo-decorated saucer). And they take the logos on the beer glasses very seriously. Here in the US, a tavern will have the same beer logo on all of their pint glasses. In France they had logo glasses for each different kind of beer they serve, and they were careful to serve the beer in the appropriate glass. So when I ordered a Guiness, it came in a Guiness logo glass. Next time I ordered Carlsburg, and that came in a Carlsburg glass. I thought that was actually really cool, and shows an attention to detail that I admire.

Three other swag items seem to be universal & ubiquitious – bar coasters, matchbooks and pens. No matter where I go in the world, these are the big 3. Cheap, useful, often collectible as souvenirs. I imagine those must be ‘bread & butter’ items for people in my business over in France.

Now that I’m back, I’ll be keeping my eye out for new and cool swag ideas to write about. Thanks for reading and keep coming back to see what’s interesting in the wild and wonderful world of swag!

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