Gift suites back in force at Oscars. Uggie's not buying
By Zorianna Kit
LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - You know you're in Hollywood when Uggie, the spunky dog from Oscar nominated film "The Artist" gets invited to an Oscar gifting suite -- and turns it down.
The popular Jack Russell terrier received an invitation to Debbie Durkin's annual Eco-Oscars Music, Celebrity and Pet Style Lounge where he would have been photographed in the Red Carpet Pets area, designed a dog bowl for charity, munched on some treats and walked away with a luxurious Minky Couture blanket.
Alas, Uggie was too busy taping Oscar predictions for late-night talk show "Jimmy Kimmel Live!" and had to decline.
But many others are showing up to the suite, one of about a dozen in Los Angeles catering to celebrities in the lead-up to Sunday's Academy Awards. Gift lounges, also called swag suites, have become key marketing tools for companies seeking exposure for products because star endorsements often draw customers.
In recent years, with the economy weak and people out of work, the lavishing of gifts upon celebrities was seen by some as insensitive and many of the companies began donating to charity or stayed away entirely.
But this year, with the economy appearing to be on the mend, they are back in large numbers. Celebrities who accept gift bags are liable for paying tax on the swag following a 2006 crackdown by U.S. authorities.
"Celebrity alignment is something every brand wants these days," said Christine King, president of TMG International, which is holding the TMG/Pandora Jewelry Luxury "Red Carpet Ready" suite at the Beverly Hilton Hotel. Continued...