It’s a safe bet that nobody reading this has an event gift budget north of $100,000—per attendee. That was the price tag on the lavish and famously expensive swag bags handed out at the 2022 Academy Awards on Sunday night.
But while that stratosphere of gifting may seem unrelatable, there are lessons for meeting professionals in all the glitz.
Who’s dying to get in front of you attendees? You can bet that Los Angeles-based marketing company Distinctive Assets, which distributes the “Everybody Wins” swag bags, has companies begging to get their products in celebrities’ hands.
Your audience is significant to someone. While a tequila might not be a normal conference advertiser, would a distributor want to get a nip on everyone’s pillow? Or maybe a small bottle to each person on your advisory board? Keep in mind that the Oscars swag didn’t go to every celebrity in the theater or even to every nominee; just the five nominees in each of the top categories—“Best Actress,” “Best Actor,” “Best Supporting Actress,” “Best Supporting Actor” and “Best Director”—plus the show’s hosts, 28 in all. (Siempre Tequila, shown here, and Trust Me Vodka were both in the swag bag.)
Keep it Fresh
While your top achievers may be delighted with the 12-pack of golf balls you hand out every year, it’s important to keep moving with the times. Here are some gifts from the Oscars stash that dovetailed with current trends.
Sustainability: Nominees got a “gift-size” plot of land in Scotland, part of an effort to create nature preserves in the Highlands.
Wellness: Gifts included an essential oils diffuser from Soul Shropshire and an on-the-go wellness kit from Euka, complete with an aromatherapy roller, vitamin pack, a wellness saline spray, shower bombs, antiseptic spray, and more.
Keep-it-local: A book called Tree, the first novel by California author and conservation executive Melina Sempill Watts, was among the Oscar swag. The book is set in Topanga, Calif., north of Los Angeles.
Remember the Family
Your gift may be given to a VIP attendee, but don’t forget to consider the people behind the scenes supporting them in their success. The Oscar gifts included several products aimed at children, including a doll, a microwaveable stuffed animal called Warmies (shown), and children’s books. Also, families will undoubtedly be the beneficiary of the most expensive gift in the 2022 swag bag: a three-night stay at Turin Castle in Scotland, a $50,000 experience complete with butler service.
Attendee gifts don’t always have to be expensive. Things that are new, unique, or expertly packaged can be a delight. One new item that made it into the Oscars swag bag is Opopop, “flavor-wrapped” popcorn kernels (right), a product that launched last summer. Also picked for the bag: "Red Carpet Fudgiest Brownies Ever" covered in edible gold from Austin, Texas, bakery Wunderkeks.
Know Your Audience
Consider gifts that will show attendees you know them. Nominees and presenters got several items tailored to a pampered celebrity life—for example, extra virgin olive oil from Ariti (left) infused with edible gold flakes and $10,000 worth of “treatments and rejuvenation procedures.”
There were also at least a couple of gifts that would seem suspect for audiences outside the L.A. bubble: supplements to slow the aging process and a $12,000 liposuction procedure.