I spent a lesson this evening talking to my only male student about a golf driving range he goes to. When trying to remember the name of the place, he rummaged around in his bag and pulled out the pen with a little golf ball on it that you see above. In Japan, these things are called "presents" but it is called swag in the U.S. For those who don't know, swag refers to the freebie stuff you get in promotions. Supposedly, it is called that because it refers to "stuff we all get" but I think it's more about coining pirate talk. ;-)
One thing I loved about going to MacWorld expos was collecting swag. Unfortunately, the MacWorld expos I attended were in Japan and the swag often consisted of items I couldn't use like CDs or floppy disks full of Japanese software. Also, after a few expos, the quality and amount of swag really seemed to drop.
Fortunately, one of our friends continued to attend MacWorld expos for awhile after we stopped and she used to send me boxes of swag she collected for me. Among the items she sent me was the bag pictured above. Since I'm an Adobe fan, I was especially keen on this item and I've had it for a number of years, as you can see by the version numbers of the software advertised on the bag.
Despite the fact that swag is free and is essentially advertising, a lot of people really like it. In fact, some people like it so much that they'll pay for it. There's a swag subscription service in California called Valley Schwag which will send you a package once a month of swag from various conventions and whatnot. It's mainly geared toward geeks who want to show off in super cool swag that makes people think they're with the in crowd technologically.