When is branded merchandise a piece of merchandise too far?

We all know the branded pens, shirts, pads and so on that companies give out, but are there items that should not be branded at all, ever?

I set that question as I have been asked by a client to see if co-branded face masks are a thing. Given that the government is currently still saying that office workers don’t have to wear them, then they are looking to use these as a giveaway.

Is it a giveaway that people would want? Would use?

With shirts people there is flexibility in the fit (but I’ve still seen many a cobranded shirt being used for gardening in and so on where people have accepted them but not worn them as they were expected to be worn). But with a mask, the fabric selection will be a very personal choice as facial skin differs from body skin to how it reacts.

Then there is the issue with fit. At first glance it should be a one size fits all, given the elastic around ears, but believe me even two masks that were from the same pack fit differently – one is loose over the nose so steamed up my glasses and the other is tighter overall and no steamed up glasses. With both my face still gets very hot very quickly, and I find the breathing experience more difficult (not as bad as through a folded up bandana though). Will the fit be the same after a wash? What if I had a product that has a wire over the nose – would that pinch, would that make the experience better or worse?

Face masks are not something that can be tried on. There are no standard sizes as there are for shirts.

Face masks are also associated with restriction, illness (the idea behind wearing a mask is to protect others not yourself). I can see why my client wanted to explore this as they thought that it would keep their customers safe, but is it a step too far for branded merchandise? I say that it is. It is a product associated with negatives with a lot of issues about how it works and why it is used. Let alone why spend money on something that will not be used.

A branded face mask is just not effective marketing.