Travel way back to when top hats were cool…
One of the earliest forms of a known promotional product was back in 1789 when electoral buttons for George Washington’s presidential campaign were printed…and probably numerous elections after. Next came a man in the mid 1800’s by the name of Jasper Meek, who was a town printer in Coshocton, Ohio. The story told that Jasper witnessed a young girl on her way to school drop her books in the dirt, which prompted an idea that would become a new way to promote and gain business traffic.
With some pep in his step, Jasper strolled on over to his friend Mr. Cantwell, who was the owner of a shoe shop. He suggested printing “Buy Cantwell Shoes” on a burlap book bag and hand them out for free to every kid that came into the store, thus many kids in town would be advertising Cantwell Shoes (can you say genius?!). Cantwell agreed. When they realized what a success their advertising had been they knew they could continue with more ideas; that meant utilizing horse covers, knowing these would also been seen by everyone in town (boy how the times have changed!).
This began Jasper Meek’s successful promotional product company, known as Tuscarora Advertising Co.,which he was able to hold his own with until around 1889 when others began working their way into the business. Henry D. Beach, who oddly enough, was also from Coshocton, Ohio entered Meek’s space and the two proceeded to go head-to-head by printing advertisements on just about ANYTHING they could get their hands on. When both men learned the process of printing on metal, the diversity in their products grew; this even included metal Coca-Cola trays, which are considered collectors’ items today (who doesn’t love vintage swag).
Business was booming and as more entrepreneurs learned of both Meek and Beach’s success, more decided to dive into the industry continuing its growth. Now thanks to these early industry founders…you name it, we can brand it!
(Our own history lesson was taught by ppai.org)