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.