Surprise and Delight: A Case Study In Crafting Unforgettable Trade Show Swag Using Humor


In today's saturated market, making an impression at trade shows can be challenging. Companies strive to stand out amid the noise, not just with compelling messaging but also with creative swag that leaves a lasting impression.

In our experience, one of the most effective ways to stand out and be remembered is with humor. Giving your recipients something clever and relevant should be the baseline, but adding a layer of humor on top makes it unforgettable. This approach transforms a simple giveaway into a memorable talking point, ensuring your brand is remembered and discussed for years.

The Challenge:

Our client was attending a trade show in iconic Nashville, TN, where standing out and being remembered beyond the event was crucial. The client wanted to highlight the brilliant work of Terence Reilly, the CMO of Stanley Cups, who had previously held a similar role at Crocs. Reilly’s tenure at both companies was notable for cultivating a cult-like following around each brand.

The challenge was to create trade show swag that:

  1. Embodied branding success: Paying homage to Terence Reilly's work and the unique brand loyalty he fostered.
  2. Stood out: Offering a key item that attendees would find memorable, and ideally shareable.
  3. Added a touch of humor: Leveraging the playful juxtaposition between Reilly's roles at Stanley and Crocs to create a laughter moment.

The Solution:

To address these goals, we crafted a unique swag bag that blended humor, brand identity, and a Nashville theme. The bag contained several themed items:

  • Nashville Chocolates: A sweet touch that tied into the event’s location, adding a local flavor to the swag bag.
  • Nashville Socks: A practical, thematic gift that provided attendees with a fun and useful keepsake.
  • "Think Like A Brand Not Like A Bank" Book: A valuable resource that resonated with the event's focus on branding and marketing strategies. 

The key items that anchored the bag and furthered the overall narrative were:

  • Black Stanley Cup: This iconic item immediately tied into the topic of brand building. Additionally, Stanley Quencher cups are coveted stand-alone items, making this a sought-after inclusion.

  • Croc Jibbitz Topper: This element nodded to Reilly’s past tenure at Crocs, reinforcing his influence in building brand loyalty. The unexpected combination of a Stanley cup topped with a Croc charm added an element of surprise and a burst of color against the black cup.

  • Mini-Stanley Cup Charm: To add the layer of humor, we went meta, selecting mini-Stanley cup charms from hundreds of available Croc Jibbitz charms. This completed the playful crossover, reinforcing the connection to the keynote speaker and his dual-brand influence.

The Result:

The crossover elements from both Stanley and Crocs were like Reilly's work brought to life, creating a real, tangible connection that reinforced the wisdom he shared. The client received positive feedback from the attendees—they really enjoyed the crossover story!


This case study shows how incorporating humor and the unexpected can transform trade show swag from simple giveaways into powerful brand statements. The playful combination of a Stanley cup with Croc Jibbitz charms, including a mini-Stanley cup, created memorable, shareable items that resonated with attendees.

By integrating playful design and clever nods to Reilly's branding successes, our client created a unique and lasting impression. This success demonstrates the power of creative, humorous swag to enhance brand identity and leave a lasting impact at trade shows and beyond.