Promotional Products

Oh Sanford… you had me at uni-ball

As a fan of USA Network’s series, “Suits” I chuckled during a recent episode when Louis Litt practically had a meltdown over the fact that Pearson Darby no longer supplied uni-ball pens.

This resonated with me on many levels. While in Law School at the University of Illinois, uni-balls were the only pens I would use—period. If one ran out of ink or I happened to forget my stash, an immediate stationary store run was in order. I remember how some of my colleagues were amused—if not perplexed—by my particularity. To boot, I had them in assorted colors, of course, to suit my color-coded note taking. Mind-you this was the mid-90’s (i.e. the pre-smartphone and tablet crazed era). Though I did have a laptop, my preferred note taking process was (and still is by the way) kickin’ it old school.

Fast forward to this century, when I initially entered the promotional products industry and discovered that I now am a b2b representative of these marvelous pens, available through Sanford Brands (a Newell-Rubbermaid Company). And, while Sanford had me at uni-ball, I soon learned that uni-balls kept good company, as sister brands of Sharpie, Paper Mate, Expo, Waterman, Parker, and now Quill. What’s more, having worked with Sanford for many years, I am impressed by their continued commitment to quality and how they stand behind their products.

As you probably realize from your daily adventures, pens are among the most popular and ubiquitous promotional items. But, are all pens created equal? I think not.

Pens, or “writing instruments” as they are often referred to in the industry, while universal, are certainly not indistinguishable.

Though I am obviously a fan of the lines offered by Sanford, we have many other known brands and quality product lines that we work with to provide our clients with the right-write, so to speak. Indeed, which writing instrument we recommend to our clients really depends on many factors. Aside from budget and timetable, the context is important.

For example, at a trade show where every proverbial Tom, Dick and Harry walks by your booth for the free giveaway, a basic pen, at a lower price point yet with decent writing and imprint quality will serve it’s purpose. For instance, the bullet line Bubbles Pen is a good candidate. At a sales conference, however, you may want to invest in a pen that has more heft and distinction, like the Soho Pen from Leed’s. For getting down to business and to have on hand at the office, no doubt, uni-balls, like the Vision Roller and 207 Gel (especially when colored ink is a preference) would rank high on my list of recommendations.

Also, we have had many requests for classic fountain pens, like the Waterman Expert, for holiday gifts and commemorate occasions. And, apparently, the enthusiasm for fountain pens, lives on, as covered through an article on