2016 Oscar Swag Bags, a PR Bonanza

SwagAs a publicist, I receive a lot of offers to include my clients’ products in celebrity swag bags at various awards shows–for a fee of course.

One year we decided to try it, and we participated in a “swag suite” at the Oscars. It was set up in a luxury hotel suite showcasing green products and services for environmentally conscious celebrities, and I was there representing my beloved client, E-The Environmental Magazine.  I watched the A-list famous, B-list famous, the “is she famous?” and countless personal assistants stroll through, graciously accepting cruelty-free cosmetics, acai berry juice, eco-friendly clothing, and even “eco” jewelry (never figured that one out). The event was tastefully executed and overall I felt it was worthwhile exposure for the magazine.

So my ears perked up when I heard about this year’s Oscar Gift Bag brouhaha. Turns out, the participants are getting more publicity than they ever imagined because the organizers are being sued and everyone’s talking about it. Here’s an excerpt from The Atlantic:

“Was it the Vampire Breast Lift? Or maybe the Haze Dual Vaporizer? Or maybe the Nuelle Fiera vibrator? Whatever it was (it was probably the vibrator), 2016 has proved to be the year that a longstanding Oscar tradition—the absurdly expensive and also just absurd gift bags handed out to losing nominees—seems, officially, to have Gone Too Far: Last week, The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences sued Distinctive Assets, the marketing firm that has long provided the sassy swag, for trademark infringement.

“The lawsuit contended, essentially, that the party favors to end all party favors—and, more specifically, their vampy/vapey/vibey contents, this year said to be worth $232,000 in all—were giving the awards show a bad name.

“So it’s both ironic and fitting that the Academy’s complaint has had the effect of bringing even more attention than usual to the existence and the excesses of the gift bags. ‘The Oscar Gift Bags Are So Lavish That Even the Academy Is Embarrassed,’ New York magazine declared. ‘Oscar sues over unauthorized (and unsavory) swag bags,’ USA Today had it. Those came on top of the many, many articles that had simply catalogued the contents of the bags. Yahoo made a video ‘Dissecting the Outrageously Valuable, Not to Mention Ridiculous, Oscars Gift Bags.’  Blasting News took things to their logically Marxist conclusion: “THE RICH AND OSCAR-FAMOUS ARE SPOILED WHILE THOUSANDS GO WITHOUT.”

 Last year the Academy warned the company to stop using its name and trademarked “Oscars” title in their name without a disclaimed. An Academy spokesperson said they “had no choice but to file a lawsuit” this year. The Academy itself used to give out its own gift bags but stopped in 2006 after the IRS began to focus on the tax obligations of the give away.

TheDailyBeast said, “Notably, the bags are only given to nominees in the main acting and directing categories, assuring that the sponsored items will only be given to the most famous people at the ceremony. Don’t think for a second that anyone who spent their life savings on a nominated Best Documentary Short is going home with a $5,000 home spa system.

“In this year of #OscarsSoWhite and #FeelTheBern, there is something even more unsavory than usual about this shameless attempt to shower excessive wealth on the excessively wealthy.”

Here’s the list of the 2016 Oscars “unofficial” swag bag contents:

Haze Dual Vaporizer ($250)
Personalized M&Ms ($300)
A 10,000-meal donation made in the nominee’s name to an animal shelter or rescue of their choice ($6,300)
A lifetime supply of Pu-erh Tea Nourishing Cream and Pu-erh Tea Cleansing Bar ($31,200)
A year’s worth of Audi car rentals from Silvercar ($45,000)
10-day all-expenses-paid trip to Israel ($55,000)
Tribute video services ($125)
Caolion Ultimate Pore Care gift set ($134)
Healing Saint Luminosity skin serum and hair follicle stimulant ($193)
Private 15-day walking tour of Japan ($54,000)
10 personal training sessions with Alexis Seletzky ($900)
Belldini gift certificate ($300)
Chapstick ($6)
Chocolatines Drunken Fig Cake Bites ($35)
Dandi Patch anti-perspirant solution ($21)
Delovery gift basket ($2,000)
Druzy earrings ($25)
Fit Club TV “Ultimate Fitness Package” ($6,250)
Gleener on the Go ($12)
3-day stay at the Golden Door Resort & Spa in San Marcos, California ($4,800)
3-night stay at the Grand Hotel Excelsior Vittoria in Sorrento, Italy ($5,000)
3-night stay at the Grand Hotel Tremezzo in Lake Como, Italy ($5,000)
Greenhill Blanc de Blancs wine ($39)
Hydroxycut Gummies ($20)
3 fitness training sessions with Jay Cardiello ($1,400)
Joseph’s Toiletries toilet paper ($275)
Sterling silver necklace ($150)
Memobottles ($47)
El Silencio Mezcal ($75)
Mission1 protein bar ($6)
Nuelle Fiera arouser for her ($250)
Phantom Glass screen protector ($50-$60)
Purely Inspired Organic Protein ($20)
Rouge Maple culinary products ($99)
Sedone Lace makeup brush set ($110)
Signature Vodka ($70)
Slimware plates ($30)
Steamist spa system ($5,060)
Sundial powder coating ($500)
Blow dryers and flat irons ($250)
Vampire Breast Lift ($1,900)
Wallet ($125)
740 Park plastic surgery ($5,530)

Looking for publicity beyond swag placements? Please contact Carney & Associates for a free consultation to discuss how our public relations services can help with your PR needs.

Ecotopia Features Slick Water Author

Stephen TchudiSusan and Stephen Tchudi, hosts of the long-running radio show Ecotopia, are among the few interviewers who take time to actually read their guests’ books in advance, and prepare thoughtful questions.

So we were thrilled when they invited our client Andrew Nikiforuk, author of Slick Water: Fracking, and One Insider’s Stand Against the World’s Most Powerful Industry, to be on their show last week.

The entire hour was devoted to hydraulic fracturing—fracking—and its impacts.  In the first half of the program they spoke with Andrew by phone from Alberta, CanadaHe described the fascinating and frightening history of how fracking has evolved over the past 150 years, and then he told the story of Jessica Ernst, a person who has launched a single-handed campaign against commercial fracking and the Canadian government.

And in the second half of the program, they spoke with Dave Garcia, who has led the anti-fracking movement up in Butte County. He gave an update on the June 7 ballot measure that would ban fracking in Butte County, and provided precise and well researched information on why fracking is a danger, not only to the county, but to the world.

Ecotopia airs on KZFR 90.1 Chico, CA, Tuesdays, 6-7 pm and covers issues ranging from water to population to homesteading to energy and from do-it-yourself to what-can-we do?  At Carney & Associates, we specialize in media relations for people who improve our world, especially those in areas of sustainability. We’re grateful that the Tchudi’s have interviewed many, many of our clients over the years. They are excellent hosts who produce intelligent, high-quality programming.

This was one of many media placements we secured during our book publicity campaign for Slick Water.  Please contact me for a free consultation to discuss how our public relations services can help with your publicity needs.

THE ANNIHILATION OF NATURE: Human Extinction of Birds and Mammals

The Annihilation of Nature, Gerardo Ceballos, Anne H. Ehrlich, and Paul R. Ehrlich
The Annihilation of Nature, Gerardo Ceballos, Anne H. Ehrlich, and Paul R. Ehrlich

With the human-caused “sixth extinction” receiving increasing attention in media coverage of climate change and the environment, I was honored to handle the publicity campaign for The ANNIHILATION OF NATURE: Human Extinction of Birds and Mammals, by Gerardo Ceballos, Paul Ehrlich and Anne Ehrlich, and published the Johns Hopkins University Press.

The authors bring enormous credibility and passion to the topic: Gerardo Ceballos is one of the world’s leading ecologists and professor at the Institute of Ecology at National Autonomous University of Mexico. Anne H. Ehrlich is a senior research scientist emeritus at Stanford University. Paul R. Ehrlich is the Bing Professor of Population Studies and the president of the Center for Conservation Biology at Stanford University.
Our planet is now in the midst of its sixth mass extinction of plants and animals . We’re currently experiencing the highest amount of species die-offs since the loss of the dinosaurs 65 million years ago. Although extinction is a natural phenomenon, it occurs at a natural “background” rate of about one to five species per year. Scientists estimate we’re now losing species at 1,000 to 10,000 times that, with  dozens going extinct every day.
During our book publicity campaign, the authors explained these dynamics but their emphasis was inevitably on the heartbreaking and unavoidable evidence that this extinction is human-caused and increasing.

In The Annihilation of Nature, wonderful photography presents the amazing animals and environments that are under assault.  Extraordinary full-spread photographs introduce each chapter.  The effect, not quite celebratory, not quite elegiac, is just right in conveying how high are the stakes and how vital the message.
Our PR campaign was a great success. The book was reviewed everywhere from the Chicago Tribune, Huffington Post,  and the Los Angeles Review of Books to Salon.com, Science NewsBioscience, and Photo Review. Paul ‘s interviews aired on more than 1500 radio stations across the U.S. and Canada.

All royalties for this title go to the Navjot Sodhi Fund at the Rocky Mountain Biological Laboratory, which supports the work of young conservation biologists.

At Carney & Associates, we are proud to specialize in publicity campaigns for nature, the environment, climate change, biodiversity, food scarcity, and other sustainability issues.

Please contact me for a free consultation to discuss how our public relations services can help with your publicity needs.

KPFA’s Letters and Politics on Transgender Women in Prisons

CARNEYPR.COMMitch Jeserich, host of the popular Letters and Politics radio show on KPFA-FM in Berkeley, recently interviewed my incredibly talented friend and client  Kris Schreier Lyseggen.

Kristin, a distinguished international journalist and photographer, was there as part of our publicity campaign to discuss her latest book, The Women of San Quentin: Soul Murder of Transgender Women in Male Prisons. Kris has been working tirelessly to raise awareness of the struggles transgender women endure, and the abuse and trauma they suffer in male prisons.

Ashley Diamond, one of the women Kris features in the book, joined her for the radio interview. Ashley is a transgender woman and nonviolent offender who had sued Georgia corrections officials for failing to provide her medical treatment and safekeeping.

Here’s an excerpt from KPFA’s post: “True stories about nine transgender women in the male US prison system who grew up never feeling safe, who were surrounded by others telling them that they should be ‘ normal ’ , and that their deepest sense of who they were was an error.

“As the number of transgender people ‘coming out’ reaches levels we never before dreamed of, author Kristin Lyseggen hopes this book will shed some light on the needs of people locked up twice in their lives.

“She started writing this book as soon as she moved to California from Norway, just before we learned that Private Bradley Manning was Chelsea Manning and before we knew about the popular Netflix TV show Orange Is the New Black. In real life, most women with gender identity issues, when jailed, are put in male prisons with notorious predators. The only options for many of them in order to survive is to live isolated in cages, or become sex slaves for other inmates.

For Kristin Lyseggen to understand the reality of their lives, she had to gain trust from people she had never met and never expected to meet. This book project led Kristin from the ‘ war zone ’ in East Oakland, California, to the run-down, chaotic intensity of the Tenderloin district in San Francisco; she traveled from a boundary breaking Transgender Health Conference in Bangkok to a clandestine LGBTQI advocacy conference in Nairobi, Kenya; from an event to raise funds for incarcerated transgender women in Oakland where one speaker was ( former FBI ’ s ‘ Most Wanted ’ ) Angela Davis, a professor at University of California; to conservative Rome, Georgia and Montgomery, Alabama; to a maximum security prison in the Central Valley of California. Without exception the stories she encountered during this project were diverse and different from one another in ways that were surprising and often disturbing.

“Kristin was introduced to an almost inconceivable struggle heaped upon the usual stories of people incarcerated in US prisons. In spite of the conditions of their lives, they taught her that what landed them behind bars, and the contradictory feelings one has about their crimes, there could be the possibility of redemption.”

I was honored to conduct a national publicity campaign for Kris, and the Letters and Politics radio show was one of many PR interviews we arranged for her. You can listen to it here.

Please contact me for a free consultation to discuss how our public relations services can help with your publicity needs.

 

 

PR Gaining Well-Deserved Respect in 2016

In an age where traditional advertising has become skippable, blockable, and opt-out-able, businesses are increasingly recognizing the power and importance of publicity and public relations.

As a publicist specializing in media relations for more than 20 years, I had to smile at a recent article in Advertising Age, How Public Relations Is Earning Its Place in 2016.

Traditionally, advertising agencies don’t really understand PR and now they’re scrambling to get up to speed. They’re learning the difference between “buying eyeballs” and “earning them.” When you’re earning eyeballs, your job is to create content that’s newsworthy.

Here are some excerpts from the piece:

“Edelman, the largest independent PR agency, is ‘getting not just a seat at the table, we’re getting half the table,’ said Jackie Cooper, global chair-creative strategy at the firm.

“Where PR used to be tacked onto a campaign after the creative was finished, Edelman is now working with brands and advertising agencies from the very beginning. The agency has been working hand-in-hand with Adobe’s creative teams, for example, from the start of the creative process to build digital activations for the software company’s creative products. Edelman won the Gold PR Lion in 2015 at Cannes for its work on the Adobe Photoshop ‘Murder Mystery’ campaign.

“Sarah Hofstetter, CEO of 360i, who worked in communications earlier in her career, said PR agencies are waking up to the power they can yield beyond media relations. “Marketers really look at how they get the biggest bang for their buck and making their work talkable certainly extends the reach,” she said.

“While 360i is a digital marketing agency at its core, Ms. Hofstetter added that she frequently puts on her PR hat to come up with ideas for clients that consumers will care about and want to share.”

But Harris Diamond, McCann Worldgroup chairman-CEO, cautions “Even though many agencies are adding new capabilities to try to create one-stop shops, the smart firms will primarily focus on what they know best.”

So on that note, contact me for a free consultation to discuss how our public relations services can help with your publicity needs. 🙂