Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Oscars 2014 Coverage: "The Swag"

The Everyone Wins at the Oscars Nominee Gift Bag

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When the Oscar hopefuls gather at Hollywood’s Dolby Theatre on March 2nd, all but a select few will find themselves eluded by the golden statuette.  The top nominees need not despair, however, since a gift bag worth in excess of $80,000 awaits them as a consolation prize.  For the past 15 years, Distinctive Assets (the company that produces the Everyone Wins at the Oscars Nominee Gift Bag) has consoled the losers in the categories of Best Actor and Actress, Best Supporting Actor and Actress and Best Director, with the lavish gifts in their post Oscar hours of need.  Lash Fary, the founder of Distinctive Assets, shared some insight into his role in Hollywood’s biggest night…
You are one of the pioneers of celebrity swag. Have you seen an evolution of sorts in this type of marketing over the years?
In the past 15 years, I have certainly seen a substantial increase in overall value of our gifts to talent . . . due in large part to the addition of high-value trips in recent years.  Though we have always struck a great balance of high-end products along with practical commodities that everyone, regardless of stardom, can use and appreciate. The biggest part of the evolution is how accepted celebrity placement is now . . . more so than any other time in history. Brands no longer consider whether they should align their products with Hollywood in some way but HOW and at what financial commitment.
How do you go about choosing what goes into the Oscar gift bag and how long does it take to pull the whole thing together?
Selection is based on (1) ability of brand to pay the promotional fee, (2) availability of category (as we offer category exclusivity on a first-to-sign basis) and (3) the very basic litmus test of whether or not the inclusion will positively impact the recipient’s life (or have the potential to do so). The price tag is NOT our focus but merely a by-product of doing our job. Yes, it is a year-round endeavor though the majority of bookings happen from Nov-January.

What is the most memorable item that has ever been in one of the bags? Can you identify a favorite or stand out item in this year’s bag?
I’m sure that every nominee who has ever received one of our bags has a different item that stands out to them, but for me I always look forward to tasting whatever delightful treat Chocolatines has put together for the nominees (they have participated for 5 years now). Their creations are always both beautiful and delicious, but I have to say this year’s wine-infused chocolates paired with savory complementary elements like bacon, blue cheese and olives is my personal favorite to date. Magical taste combos and exquisite packaging!  We always include fabulous trips, and this year is no exception . . . from Canada to Japan and Las Vegas to Hawaii we have them covered. The trip I’m most excited to take myself this year is from Rocky Mountaineer . . . it’s a luxury rail journey through the Canadian Rockies with Gold Leaf Service and stunning views from a glass-domed rail car.
How do the recipients receive the bags and do you have a favorite story that you can share about someone’s reaction to the gift bag? Has anyone ever refused the gift bag?
The bags are delivered by us the day after the Oscars. Whether it is to the star’s home, production company or agent varies depending on whether or not we have an existing relationship with them and have gifted them before. Because we have been in this biz for 15 years, we have direct relationships with lots of talent. The only person I can ever remember refusing a bag is Sandra Oh. And George Clooney always auctions his off to benefit a favorite charity. Some of the past recipients who have most zealously and appreciatively gone through their gift bags and called to redeem various gift certificates include Amy Adams, Hugh Jackman, Ron Howard, Helen Mirren, Diane Keaton and
Jennifer Lawrence.
How soon will you start to work on next year’s bag?
The day after this year’s Oscars!
Here is the full list of gifts for this year’s lucky losers:
Chocolatines Savory Wine Infused Chocolate   $80.00
Halo Pet Food Shelter Donation     $6,100.00
Rocky Mountaineer Rail Journey     $6,850.00
Max Martin Luxury Shoes     $750.00
Slow Watches       $290.00
Dosha Pops Herbal Tea Based Candy    $35.00/6 pack
Blossom Blends Tea      $49.95
Steamist Total Sense Home Spa System    $2,560.00
Narrative Clip Automatic Camera and App   $279.00
Hydroxycut Weight Loss Products    $38.96
Polar Loop Activity Tracker     $109.95
Jitseu Handbags       $279.00
Rouge Maple Gourmet Gift Package    $280.00
Huntley Drive Fitness Personal Training Sessions   $850.00
Celebrity Acupuncturist/Nutritionist Heather Lounsbury  $500.00
Slimware Dinnerware      $59.00
M3K Beauty Products      $100.00
Aviv 613 Vodka       $30.00
Jan Lewis Designs Accessories     $400.00
Le Petit Cirque       $575.00
Imanta Resorts Vacation     $3,300.00
Koloa Landing Resort      $2,000.00
Loaded: The Story of a Ghost     $49.95
Makeup Studio by Diane Capt Organic Products   $105.00
Simon’s Happy Pet Shampoo     $15.00   
Bee Free Honee Organic Apple Honey    $39.00
Betty Jane Homemade Candies     $69.75
Cannonball Wine Company     $60.00
Acure Body and Hair Care Products    $300.00
Cherry Knit & Co. Mittens     $158.00
The Green Garmento Garment and Tote Bags   $23.00
Mane ‘n Tail Hair Products     $95.35
Hisy Bluetooth Camera Shutter Remote    $24.99
Epic Pet Health Eletrolyte Therapy    $1,571.98
°Coolway Go Pro Hair Dryer     $120.00
Vetvik Luxury Leather Goods     $230.00
Mace Brand Pepper Guns     $120.00
Gizara Arts Gift Certificate     $5,000.00
Wrag Wrap Sustainable Gift Wrap    $15.00
Drainwig Drain Protector      $6.49
Krystal Klear Water Filtration System    $4,895.00
The O-Shot Rejuvenation Procedure    $2,700.00
Artas Robotic Hair Transplant System    $16,000.00
Walk Japan Tour      $15,000.00
Best Of Las Vegas Vacation Package    $9,000.00
- Rhonda Erb

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