Wednesday, January 19, 2011

You Call This Swag?

Word From Shenzhen, 2011

Regular readers will recall that I sometimes joke that if Nikon would like to send me a new model D3 DSLR I’d be absolutely shameless in my mention of it here at What I Saw. I mean, really. My daughter gets offered free trips to places around North America and across the ocean to Europe in the hopes that she’ll write about the destinations in her blog. (As a matter of policy, she doesn’t accept these offers.) She gets sent dozens of review copies of cool new books. Nike once had her join a group that was going to design a new sneaker. Kate Spade invited her to doll up a Kate Spade purse.

There is a little difference, of course, between the Design*Sponge audience and that for What I Saw. For one thing, my daughter has something like 60,000 readers a day and I have, well, fewer.

A few days I wrote about my new iPad, a Christmas gift from my wife. Not knowing what kind of protective cover I might want for it, she left that choice up to me. Just after Christmas I ordered a plain black cover from the Apple online store. I could have driven to the nearest Apple store and bought one of the shelf. But that’s about a 40 miles round trip for me. The gas alone costs most than the $4 Apple charged for shipping.

I figured the Apple store would ship this cover from a warehouse in, say, Memphis or Louisville, major hubs for UPS and Fedex, respectively. But when they sent me a shopping confirmation and just for fun I started tracking the shipment, I found that the shipment would originate in a factor in Shenzhen. China. I’ve never been to China, but I envisioned one of those mega factories that Edward Burtynsky photographs so well.

Fascinated by the trip this shipment would be taking, I immediately went to Google Earth and found Shenzhen. It’s about fifty miles north of Hong Kong. Over the next week, I followed the package as it went from Shenzhen to a Fedex sorting center on an island near the Hong Kong international airport. From there it went to a U.S. Customs clearinghouse in Anchorage, Alaska, and then to several points across the United States before ending up at my doorstep.

No bad for four dollars, eh? (But a little irritating when you figure that Fedex charges me $26 to send a single page document to Philadelphia.)

By the way, the return label on the package listed a California address.

I thought that was the end of the story. I put the iPad in its new protective cover and went about my business.

Until this morning.

I opened my e-mail and discovered an e-mail message from “Cindy,” the PR manager at an outfit called that is based in--you guessed it!--Shenzhen, China. Cindy mentioned that she’d seen my "AWESOME" website.

(Maybe in my quest to achieve the kind of critical mass readership that would compel Nikon to seriously consider sending me that new model D3 DSLR I should be casting my net in the direction of China? Lord knows there are probably millions of people there anxious to find wisdom in my avuncular style of writing.)

Cindy’s note suggests that I might like to pick something from their inventory and review it.

Like the $5.06 Tissot leather band wristwatch?

The $1.49 mini Flexible microphone mic?

The $1.58 stainless steel mini hacksaw keychain?

The $2.56 “Cute Hello Kitty Compact Plastic Make-up Vanity Mirror”?

If I’m going to shill for swag, it really ought to be for something worth more than the cost of shipping. Are you listening, Nikon?


  1. If you change your mind, my vote is for the Hello Kitty make-up mirror.

    We all have to start somewhere!

  2. I was just thinking the same as red dirt girl--I vote for the Hello Kitty as well. What a riot. At least with that one, you already know that it's at least "cute."

  3. I agree, Chris; the Hello Kitty make up mirror is so you. If I sell 200 more I win a Nikon D3 DSLR. Won't you help me reach my goal?

    Your new best friend,