The Real Deal About Celebrity Gifting Suites

The Reality of Gifting Suites

Ever since I began working in fashion and beauty public relations more about 10 years ago, I’ve received hundreds of email requests from media production companies inviting my clients to participate in their gifting suites. In other words, pay a price tag that’s usually in the four digits for the opportunity to present and gift their products (for free) to whomever happens to attend their event. From The MTV Movie Awards to The Emmys, you name the celebrity-clad soiree; I’ve received an email (or 10) about a gifting suite attached to it. I’ve also received hundreds of forwarded emails from my clients who receive the same requests from these media production companies. Most of my clients always ask me, “What do you think?” “Is this type of event worth it?”

Most of the time, my answer is “No.”

That’s not because I don’t think that the powers that be behind these events do a decent job inviting and luring media members/stylists/influencers/talent/etc. to attend their suites and shower them with copious swag bags full of free cosmetics/accessories/clothing/the latest gadgets/trendy snacks/housewares/spa treatments/vacations/etc. Their guest lists are always chock full of top tier names and sought after talent.

Most of the time, my answer is “No” because…

1. The top tier celebs on their guest lists do not end up attending these suites. At best, you might have the assistant to an A or B level celebrity breeze past your table. Nowadays, celebrities get paid to endorse products. Why would they come to a suite and happily take a picture with your item for free when they can get paid to do it instead? If you’re not convinced, visit the websites of these media production companies and check out the photos of the celebs they feature. If they’re a big time celeb, the pic is usually from years ago before paid endorsements were the deal du jour, and gifting suites weren’t a dime a dozen. Most of their current pics are of reality “stars” and actors/actresses who you wouldn’t be able to name on the street unless their publicist whispered it in your ear.

2. The top tier media outlets don’t come either. Sure, you’ll have bloggers and the occasional reporter. But the higher up editors are too busy to attend these types of events. The best way to pitch them is through email. If a large media outlet comes through a suite, the coverage your client will receive will most likely be a very quick mention amongst a lengthy list of other brands showing at the event, too.

3. These events are costly and the odds that the ROI will be worth it for your clients, is very low. Between the price tag for your client to have a table at an event, the cost involved with giving away 50-200 items and the time and manpower involved, these opportunities to get “your products in the hands of today’s top-trendsetters” and “land sought after national press that will take your business to the next level” typically bomb more often than not.

As a transparent, honest and hard-working publicist, I do my best to advise my clients on how, where and when to spend their marketing dollars. The business of celebrity gifting suites is a moneymaking venture. Don’t be fooled. A majority of the brands that actually show at these types of events are small, new and/or unknown brands trying to get a break. The owners of these brands don’t necessarily know any better and get caught up in the all the hype, when in reality, they end up sitting at their table watching the front door for any so-called celeb to walk in.

Photo Credit: Jason Hargrove

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About This Author

Charmed PR owner Robin Tolkan-Doyle is a results-driven publicist and writer with more than 20 years experience in the media. She has been featured as a fashion correspondent on KTLA, KABC, eHOW's Style Channel and YouTube's FAWN Network. Prior to working in public relations, Robin sat on the other side of the pitch as a magazine editor and writer. She knows how editors work and what they want. She's also launched two successful fashion and accessories' businesses of her own, so when it comes to aspiring entrepreneurs, she gets them. Totally. (She's also a native Angeleno, born and raised in the San Fernando Valley). Robin also blogs about finding the beauty in life, lipstick and loud children at Beautyologie.com. When she’s not doing all that, she’s a nurturing mom to her two children and three dogs...and living a charmed life.