T-Shirts & Community Events

Do you speak at a lot of conferences? How many t-shirts do you collect per year? How many of them are you wearing and how many of them stay in the closets / given away right after the end of the conference ?
If you are a frequent speaker, then racking up a couple of dozens of t-shirts per year means that it is definitely too much and that almost guaranteed after a couple of years you won’t be wearing the t-shirt you have received 5 years ago.

I am not pointing at any specific conference, but I can tell you that some of the cheapest (in the term of the quality) t-shirts I have received I could not force myself to wear again after the conference. I greatly appreciate the effort of the organisers in providing materials, but it does not mean that I do agree with the final result.
I am guilty of this in the very first instance, where I agreed & approved buying of the cheap t-shirts (which I never use after) for at least one conference that I have organised.
Oh, and indeed I gave away even the original SQLSaturday Lisbon #78 t-shirt.

In the last 4 years I have raised this topic enough times between my european friends and colleagues and because none of us advanced with it (for whatever reasons) I wanted to share it with everyone – maybe someone with more resources/focus can make this happen. Maybe some organisation will consider helping it’s own user groups in this way – in any case I am sharing this in hope that something positive will come out of this idea & I do not need a credit for the idea.

The idea

The idea is rather plainly simple – buy na incredibly good shirt or polo, that is totally unbranded. A t-shirt that you love and would be incredibly proud to wear.
This t-shirt should get na application of Velcro (Hook-and-loop fastener) and every single event will have their own logo in Velcro (hook part) that will be hooked to the t-shirt (loop part). The hook part of Velcro could be a circle or square with enough space to be visible and identifiable by the attendees, making people recognise the event’s brand.

There could be a regional t-shirt/polo in such way, this would allow every organizer to spend money only on the velcro with the logo of the event. This would allow the organisers & speakers to reuse the applicable Velcro of the event and asking at the end of the event the speakers to return the material for next year.

Velcro (aka Hook & Loop Fastener)

(If you are in trouble of understanding what Velcro is – think about the children shoes that are simply closed with those hooks & loops, that produces a distinct tearing sound while opening, or if you using a Cap, the opening/closing part is exactly what Velcro is.)

Think about the sustainability and the materials/energy waste of getting each year a box with t-shirts, or instead ordering every couple of years Velcrum Logos (hook part) a couple of dozens. There are many ideas that can be played with, such as giving away those logos for the newcomers (first time speakers) or event any speaker who expresses such desire, but the main point is still – optimisation of the resources and less obligation of the involved speakers to accept your event marketing materials.

A frequent speaker could have 2-3 good t-shirts/polos for the events which they could use across a wide broad of community events. Maybe someone will want and buy more of them – and they should have the possibility for that.

We can go more steps further and buy some regional (European, North American, South American, African) t-shirts with Velcrum from a COMMON FUND (this will help less sponsored/money-generating events to get a major item of their list), this would start bringing all regional events closer together.

The regional organisation could offer to buy a good t-shirt for every new speaker to give them a start and overall this would be still incredibly cheaper and practical instead of buying somewhat unfashionable items with branding that can not correspond the wish of the speaker (the person who we expect to wear this item).

The Sponsors?

What about the sponsors ? If there is a company that feels that a major deal is lost when the speaker t-shirt does not have their brand – there must be something that an event can offer to compensate. Most people of success will not want to wear a t-shirt of the company/brand they do not like. Most people of success will not wish to associate their brand with something they do not know or do not align with, and so I believe a more reasonable agreement can be found.

As an organiser I would not be moved by the demand of putting a logo on the t-shirts (and well in all those years that I am running not even 1 sponsor has truly cared about it).

Personally I am done with wearing the branded stuff and very few items will stay on my list (Just last months I have given around 30 t-shirts away). I am grateful for every event I am selected, but I am not a marketing monkey to wear every commercial company logos (and while I still do for the next couple of months, please bear with me).

Is This Suppose to be the Rule?

Obviously there are some noticeable exceptions – for example some conferences mean a lot for me and I really keep their t-shirt (a newcomer thing), but after some time I tend to keep in the closet mostly. 

There must be a lot of good exceptions that did not came into my mind, but I am strongly convinced that this is the way to go and starting with 2019 I will start implement this locally with SQLSaturday Portugal and Tuga IT.

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