The 56th Annual Grammy Awards will hit L.A.’s Staples Center this Sunday Jan 26, with acts like Daft Punk, Bruno Mars, Macklemore & Ryan Lewis, and Lorde competing for Grammy glory. One perk they won’t have to fight for? The elusive Grammy gift bag, offered exclusively to all of the evening’s presenters and performers.
For the 15th consecutive year, niche-marketing firm Distinctive Assets will produce their trifecta of gift offerings, beginning with the Official Presenter & Performer Gift Bags, as well as producing the Official Backstage Talent Gift lounge and the “signature” gift for the Official Grammy After Party.
Behind the scenes, production began “right after the 2013 Oscars,” explains Distinctive Assets founder Lash Fary, Grammy gift-prep is a seemingly “year-long endeavor.” Brands solicit Distinctive Assets to help bring their products closer to celebrities, avoiding the middleman of a publicist -- who’ve been known to mysteriously end-up with the gifts themselves...
For Gift Basket inclusion, companies must shell out $2,000 (per product category), offering a minimum gift value of $50. Each company must send a quantity of 170, which includes 20 press samples. The companies chosen must submit and be approved by Distinctive Assets as well as NARAS. There is also category exclusivity (first come first served) as well as sponsor telecast exclusions to consider.
“Companies pay to get in the bag, that’s how I make my money,” Lash adds. “I work on [the Grammy’s] behalf to acquire the gift they give and I take on all of the responsibility of the cost to set up the production and staffing, that’s all under my umbrella.”
Having been in the business for 15 years, Lash & Co know how to treat A-listers, who Lash ensures receive every gift personally. “We put it in their car, we take it to their home. We are getting paid for this comfort level and knowledge that the actual people you want to get your product are getting your product. We’re not setting them up at a hotel in Beverly Hills hoping that they’ll drive up there. We’re on site and part of the experience is coming to see us. It’s a very different form of access that the clients are paying for.”
Gift Baggers: Musicians who've visited Distinctive Assets gift areas (from top left clockwise): Miguel, Rihanna, the Band Perry, LMFAO, LL Cool J with Distinctive Assets founder Lash Fary and Lionel Richie (Photos: Courtesy Distinctive Assets)
This year’s bags will feature a range of high and low-end products, some that aren’t even on the market yet, which adds further exclusivity to their value. Stand out products include a Kohler Moxie Showerhead Wireless Speakers ($199), a house call from “Live Natural Live Well” Acupuncturist Heather Lounsbury ($500), and a resort stay at Imanta in Ocean Casa, Punta de Mita, Mexico ($3,300).
Low-end items reflect practicality, ensuring that the bags can be unpacked and put to use, and even entertain the artists’ family. “Probably the least expensive from a retail perspective is Windex touch up cleaner at $3.95. It’s so the glass case you keep all of your Grammys in looks sparkling clean (laughs).” Also making the cut is Elektrokidz by Wowwee, music-inspired figurines whose hair dance to the beat of the music you listen to, valued at $19.99.
The second gift platform produced by Distinctive Assets is the Talent Lounge, whose real estate costs $25,000 (and a minimum gift value of $250) for companies wanting an inside presence. Looking to be a Presenting Sponsor? It will cost you $45,000, but will include the added benefits of naming rights, signage, premier lounge space and tickets to the show itself. The gift lounge is located on site at the Staples Center in a large luxury tent, decorated by Distinctive Assets. It is located right next to the talent entrance, about 50 feet away from where talent will be dropped off to enter the building.
Items in the gift lounge must be picked up by celebrities themselves, which encourages the high access price. Presented by Japanese manufacturer MTG, the Gift Lounge this year boasts high end items like a designer pair of Max Martin luxury shoes ($550), a Gramovox - the world’s first Bluetooth Gramophone ($349.99), a Gibson package including a choice of an exclusive selection of legendary Gibson guitars ($1,140), Solstice sunglasses from the Spring 2014 collection ($120-$350), and a stunning $5,000-valued “Best of Las Vegas” package, courtesy of Vegas-based agency PR Plus.
“They’re the go-to people in Las Vegas. They represent the Blue Man Group, and George Wallace and comedians and hotels. You get restaurant gift certificates, Boyz 2 Men tickets, Blue Man Group tickets, Cirque de Soleil tickets, hotel stays,” Lash explains. “It’s everything you could want to do in Las Vegas, so that’s technically the most expensive item in the bag and in the gift lounge. Everybody loves to go to Vegas!”
Speaking of value, Lash prefers to not think monetarily - like his clients. “The people we gift don’t live their lives based on price tags. It’s not like Beyoncé and Sting are going to be more impressed with a $40,000 gift bag than they would be with a $30,000 one. The benchmark I strive for is, are the items interesting and cool to talent? My friends ask, ‘Oh, are they getting cars and diamond earrings and flat screen TVs?” Well, no, these people already have those things. More so than ever this year we’ve gotten truly innovative products.”
Valued at $20,000 per bag this year, the producers and presenters will certainly be thankful, even if they don’t take home a Gramophone. Just wait until they try on their Max Martin luxury shoes!