The Bel Promo Conundrum

By PromoKitchen Chef Nathan Bailey, President of Ideation Promos

Amazing things happen after the ad specialty industry’s annual PPAI Expo in Vegas. Most people leave refreshed and motivated to have their best sales year ever. Many come away with new product ideas, strategies to implement, and marketing concepts to present to their clients. However, even with all the positive impact Expo brings, there is always bound to be hype formed around some of the negative aspects of our industry. This year, the loudest chatter I heard came from distributors clambering on about suppliers selling direct to end-users. And what company is at the center of the discussion? None other than the infamous Bel Promo.

This year Bel Promo, and their end user retail brand Discount Mugs, got attacked at the show and on various social media channels. In a guerrilla campaign by an anonymous individual/group, the cards shown were left throughout Mandalay Bay with the call to action of having show attendees contact industry affiliates and request Bel Promo be removed from the supply chain.


The amount of time people have spent on social media voicing their disdain for Bel Promo and Discount Mugs is laughable. The myriad of conspiracy theory comments by distributors about suppliers going straight to the end user solidifies the stereotype that the majority of distributors in our industry spend their days doing nothing more than that slapping logos on products. If you are concerned about suppliers going to the end user, then you must also be overly concerned with losing work to companies like and other web-based distributors.

However, if you are doing our business the right way, you aren't selling a product. You are selling creative strategies that incentivize people to action or evoke a reaction from your client’s customers. This increases brand loyalty and affiliation. You are using branded merchandise as the conduit to deploy the campaign and deliver a message. If you are having these types of conversations with your clients, then you don’t have to worry about the Bel Promo and Discount Mugs, 4imprints, or other sellers of the world. Those companies merely have customer service reps taking in orders, slapping logos on things, and shipping them out.

To be productive and truly successful, spend less time getting worked up about the possibility of the supply chain effecting your business, and spend more time creating dialogue and material that teaches your customers about the value you bring to them and the lasting impact that doing business with you will have on their brand.