Don’t Touch That Pen!

  • Jul 16, 2014

Nestled in my desktop pen holder, amongst the myriad of writing utensils, is a lowly Bic Clic Stic pen that is a great example of a Marketing piece that Sticks.  It’s been there for more than 5 years.  It doesn’t even write very well any more.  Yet still it has earned a spot on my desk.   And anyone who would want to borrow a pen from me would soon learn: “Don’t touch that pen!”  I have only a few pens in the holder – why is this one so special? 

It’s not about the pen.
Imagine a beautiful early-summer afternoon.  The sky was blue and the sun was shining.  Bruce and I had hopped an early-morning flight to Chicago on Southwest Airlines, shortly after they started flying to Pittsburgh.  (Southwest was running a promotion: fly three times and earn a free ticket.  Those tickets to Chicago were about $50 per round trip.  We took 3 day-trips to Chicago and earned a free roundtrip ticket. We used that for our next trip to our annual tradeshow in Las Vegas, saving ourselves a good amount, plus enjoying three trips to Chicago.  A win all around.)  We had visited some of the sights of Chicago, and it was now early afternoon.  We were in Chicago’s Greek Town, where we had a wonderful, leisurely, delicious meal at one of the many Greek Town restaurants – outdoors, with a beautiful view of the Chicago skyline, under the clear blue sky, warmed by the sun.  It was one of those experiences that you savor.
Outdoors in Chicago


As we were leaving, the hostess asked us how everything had been. After hearing how much we had enjoyed our time there, and that we were sorry that we couldn’t visit regularly, since we were from out of town, she handed me a simple Bic Clic Stic pen and said “here, take this with you so you’ll remember your time here every time you use it, and you’ll be able to find us when you DO come back.”And every time I use or see that pen, I’m taken back to that lovely afternoon.  I’ve recommended the restaurant to friends countless times. And when we are in Chicago again, it will without a doubt be on our list of restaurants to visit.


There’s a simple principle illustrated here:  if an ordinary “thing”, like a simple pen, is associated with a strong emotional experience, it can be a very effective and appropriate promotional product.

Oh, the restaurant is:

Athena Restaurant
202 S. Halsted st
Chicago Greek Town
www.athenarestaurantchicago.comIf you find yourself in Chicago’s Greek Town, give them a try.  Enjoy the experience, and don’t forget to take home a pen to remind you of your visit.