Stop Swag


In opening my emails every morning I’m accustomed to a plethora of press releases. Today the release that caught my eye was the announcement of President Obama signing an executive order to cut federal agency travel, printing and IT costs.

However it wasn’t the “news” in the release that has me blogging. It’s the use of the word swag. Sports reporters have been using the word for months now.  There is no doubt that you will hear swag used if you tune into ESPN’s SportsCenter. But I didn’t expect the White House to jump on the bandwagon.

screen shot from WH press release

Is it just me or does the word swag bother anyone else? And the fact that the White House used it in an official press release.


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  1. I think “swag” has become a pretty institutionalized term, so I’m OK with its use in the memo (particularly with the clarification). Even more, I support the decision to reduce promotional stuff. It serves to increase motivation and morale, but it is especially hard to justify to tax payers.

  2. Being an Engineer I’ve seen the term used all the time since in engineering it stands for “scientific wall ass guess”.

  3. Former PO employee on

    The term “swag” used to refer to the “loot”, “booty”, or whatever that pirates took on their raids. Now it seems it can refer to just about anything. One of our newsanchors called it “stuff we all get”.

  4. Perhaps it’s just my marketing background, but I’ve seen “swag” used during the last 8 years to mean “promotional materials”. Basically cheap branded gifts used for marketing and promotional use. At a former employer, we’d hand out all sorts of branded gifts at parties, mostly shot glasses, tshirts, bumper stickers, just to get our name out and help drive new visitors to our site. It bothers me more that the White House’s appropriate use of the word would bother a fellow blogger.

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