I hope you are gearing up for a great weekend! Will you be watching the Emmys on Sunday? If so, you’ll see many of your favorite celebs glammed up from head to toe. And of course, most of them have an army of stylists to make them look amazing. But there’s another trick up their sleeve to make them look and feel their best, and that’s a gift suite.
So what exactly is a gift suite? A gift suite is kind of like a trade show for celebrities and influencers to attend to try out new things. They are usually held at high end hotels or members clubs surrounding a major event like an award show, major sporting event, product launch or a film festival to name a few examples. Companies sponsor these gift suites or “lounges” as many of them are called hoping that celebrities will attend and take a gorgeous photo with their product.
It’s really quite that simple. Celebrities and members of the press attend the event (often with an assistant who is there to introduce them AND to carry their massive LOOT! – I kid you not) and visit each booth. They will be photographed trying the product if that’s possible, holding the product if it is something to show off or demonstrate, or wearing it if it is something like jewelry or clothing.
It’s a quid pro quo exchange. The celebrities receive the product in exchange for the use of their likeness in the images that the sponsor may distribute and use in their marketing materials. Some celebs go on to endorse those products on their social media accounts, some will become genuine users of the products, and some just go to get the free stuff. You just never know who may try something, love it, and become an evangelist for it.
The photo agency responsible for the photography will release the images on the press wire and publicists will distribute these images to the company and to appropriate publications. Even bloggers like me get to attend gift suite to build social collateral for the brands.
I’ve been attending gift suites for about 10 years now as talent since I’ve been a multi-hypenate in the entertainment industry for ages. But tomorrow, I’ll be attending as a beauty blogger representing my Ninjette community. I believe I’ve seen just about anything under the sun offered at a gift suite. Popular items for companies to gift celebs with at these suites include jewelry, cosmetics / skin care and personal care items, fashion accessories, tech gadgets, food, wine and spirits, travel, restaurant gift certificates, luxury travel experiences, clothing, and even furniture. I was once at a gift suite for a luxury jeweler and everyone attending left with a beautifully cut yet unset diamond.
The really great thing about the suites is that the sponsors are so generous with the celebrities visiting their suites. They are also generous with the members of the press, particularly those who are able to editorialize. Many sponsors recognize the benefit of gifting items to the press (usually not as much as what they give to the celebrities but it is still generous nonetheless) so that the writers can write apt descriptions of what the sponsor wishes to promote. And it’s always appreciated when the sponsors do this.
In my experience over the years, sponsors have received a tremendous amount of social collateral, ie: twitter / facebook / instagram love, when they share with the press and with bloggers too. What better way to promote a great new product than with an image of a celebrity using it, and the blogger being able to describe it from first hand experience? And frankly, those sponsors tend to get more write ups because we have more material to work with.
In the past, I’ve attended gift suites for events all across the US, in Europe and the Middle East and have been fortunate to be spoiled rotten at many of them! It’s so nice to be pampered. Some of my favorites have been at the Sundance and Cannes Film Festivals. They really pull out all the stops for those and are quite creative. Locally, there are so many gift suites on a regular basis as there are so many award shows and special events. I’m not sure it’s possible to attend all of them. But it sure would be fun!
I love it! Who wouldn’t? I’m looking forward to attending a few suites this weekend! I’ll tell you all about it!
Always Be Awesome!