A common application of a marketing strategy is what people in the industry call "trinkets and trash." The fact that something you're producing to help promote a product/company/service is referred to as "trash" should probably raise a red flag.
There are many companies that specialize in this form of promotion. So what do they do exactly? They put your logo on stuff.
Tangerine Promotions, based out of Chicago, actually does a good job of promoting brands with this method. Their clients include MTV, Smirnoff, Nintendo, Evian, Guiness, and HBO, among others. They claim that their customization goes beyond the ordinary and that they are the right partner for your brand. Tangerine Promotions uses relevant items in connecting their client's brand to their audience (i.e. a jump rope for Nickelodeon, and a vase/urn for Six Feet Under). However, other companies such as www.trinkettrash.com, pretty much create a bunch of waste.
Check out "Mr. Moody" for example. He changes his face from happy, angry, stressed, or surprised -- a perfect desktop companion! How many people do you think actually have a Mr. Moody on their desk? Yeah, it was free, given away at a trade show maybe, but what is the point?
As designers, we help to create and nurture brands. We come up with marketing applications for the strategy that took months of research to develop, followed by months of creating and refining the design. So what makes people think that putting their logo on lip balm, key chains, or random desktop items is going to help their company? If the application is relevant, it absolutely will. But handing out free things with your logo on it does not mean people are going to understand, like, or be loyal to your brand.
From a social perspective, I feel that including these kind of throwaway applications in a marketing strategy is wasteful. How is it benefiting society as a whole? What is that lip balm, for example, made of? Is it actually good for your lips? How much energy was required to produce it? And what does lip balm have to do with your business?
So in the end, the big question is: what happens to these trinkets? Well, they usually become trash. This is wasteful. Designers, we need to make sure that the applications of our marketing strategies reflect the company we are working for, as well as benefit society. There is no need for many of these items to even exist. Let's leave the organic lip balm making to companies who specialize in this, not to a business that sells in recycled paper products and knows nothing about lip balm.