Corporate gifts go bizarre, finds Regus survey

Mumbai, June 06, 2013 - Corporate gifts are considered a great way of making business people feel appreciated, right? Now, suppose a business associate land at your desk with a gift as a mark of appreciation, and you, of course, unwrap the gift expectantly. What if a shrunken head rolls out of the gift-box or, you discover that the gift is in the form of a neatly wrapped dead cat? There are chances you will scream or perhaps, even throw up.

No, this is not a ploy to make you feel nauseated. You and I may feel absolutely disgusted by such choices of gifts, but a recent research by Luxembourg-based Regus, the world's largest provider of flexible workplaces, says that such items have been actually gifted as corporate hand-outs.

And, if you think that such things only happen in a land far, far away, Indian choices have apparently been no better. How about receiving a dead snake or a live frog as corporate gifts? Or, even if you are not a vegan, how would you react to a business associate presenting you with a jar of camel milk? Now, that would be jarring – isn’t it?

The global Regus survey, which quizzed 26,000 respondents from over 90 countries about the strangest corporate gifts that they have ever received, found bizarre items such as coffin, sandbags, breathalyser, and even antacid medicines.

Indians were no less creative in choosing gifts for their professional colleagues. Apart from the ones mentioned above, other notably weird items included a back-scratcher (this one was possibly for the boss), gold-plated playing cards, and a small auto rickshaw made out of tin cans. More than 450 Indian respondents were polled in the survey.

The survey also found that the practice of giving business gifts remained a global phenomenon, with 71% of companies gifting presents to customers and clients. Interestingly, 33% of businesses were reportedly not spending as much on these gifts as they did in previous years. Economic recession probably accounted for this.

Naturally, what cannot be achieved financially is made up for through imagination, though some of the items given to clients were more weird than welcome.

Top 10 Strangest Gifts Globally

Top 10 Strangest Gifts in India

A shrunken head

A dead snake

A dead cat

A fossil

Food-shaped ear-plugs

Stone beads necklace for spiritual healing

Antacid medicine

Gold plated playing cards

A set of nail clippers


A coffin

Jar of camel milk


Table top golf kit

Initialled underwear

Bed sheet

Soil samples

Back scratcher

A breathalyser

Small auto rickshaw made of tin cans

Weird-to-wonderful gifts presented to Indian businesspeople ranged from a giant jade Buddha and a rubber duck to a hanging bell and money plants. The most common, but perhaps more useful gifts ranged from umbrellas to key rings. Livestock was strangely common, with a fish aquarium featuring among Indian responses. Spirits and chocolate are popular but pedestrian options in comparison. Regus provides 47 flexible workplaces in India currently.

Mr. Madhusudan Thakur, Regional Vice-President - South Asia, Regus, comments, “Allowing for cultural differences, there are clearly some items on the list that many of us would struggle to welcome as a gift or find acceptable. While gifts can be a great way of making businesspeople feel appreciated, or of introducing one business to another, the choice of gifts can strongly impact the impression on the recipient. However, this said, the range of items people have received in the line of business certainly shows great imagination!”