The Oscars are on Sunday and Los Angeles will soon be awash with designer dresses, famous movie stars and high-priced gift bags.
For the 20th consecutive year, Los Angeles-based marketing firm Distinctive Assets is giving away its famous “Everybody Wins” goody bags to select nominees. This year’s bag is valued at just over $137,000 and includes items ranging from designer popcorn to a $12,000 liposuction voucher.
Gift bags have their own “reputation in the entertainment industry,” says Distinctive Assets founder Lash Fary. They’re a hit not just with the nominees, but with their reps, agents and managers, he adds.
“We get calls from about 25% to 30% of nominees every year who want to make sure we know where to get their bag for them,” Fary told CNBC Make It.
In most cases, nominees who are in Los Angeles for the Oscars simply receive the bags at their hotel. Others have them delivered to their homes in the Los Angeles area or to the offices of their production companies.
“I’m sending them to Olivia Colman and Judi Dench back home in the UK, and Penelope Cruz wanted them shipped to Madrid,” Fary said. “It’s incredibly expensive, so I try not to ship them if I don’t have to, but I will for the Penelope Cruzes of the world, for sure.”
This year, a total of 28 people will receive the Everybody Wins bag, says Fary. The five nominees for “Best Actress”, “Best Actor”, “Best Supporting Actress”, “Best Supporting Actor” and “Best Director” will each receive the bag, along with the three hosts from the Sunday telecast: Wanda Sykes, Amy Schumer and Regina Hall.
Since Distinctive Assets is not affiliated with the Oscars and independently distributes goody bags, Lash is able to decide who he wants to send the goody bags to. With other awards he partners with, like the Grammys, he had to create goody bags for all the nominees.
“It’s a very small group of people compared to the 150 goodie bags we create for the Grammys,” Fary explains. “It allows products or services that could never yield 150 items to be able to yield much more valuable things.”
High-profile recipients of this year’s bags include “West Side Story” director Steven Spielberg, “Power of the Dog” star Benedict Cumberbatch and “Spencer” headliner Kristen Stewart.
What’s in this year’s bag?
The most expensive item in this year’s bag is a three-night, $50,000 stay at Turin Castle in Scotland, inspired by Denzel Washington’s “Best Actor” nomination for “The Tragedy of Macbeth.” Guests who accept the offer will have full access to the 17th-century castle, complete with butler service and a bagpiper welcome upon arrival.
The bags also include 52 other items and experiences. Here are some highlights:
- A $12,000 “Celebrity Arms” Liposuction Procedure From Cosmetic Surgeon Dr. Thomas Su
- The title of “Lord” or “Lady of Glencoe”, as well as a small piece of land in Scotland
- $25,000 in home renovations from LA-based Maison Construction
- An assortment of Opopop “flavor” popcorn packets
- Up to $10,000 in ‘rejuvenation treatments and procedures’ from Dr. Konstantin Vasyukevich
- A $15,000 four-night stay for two at Golden Door Luxury Resort and Spa in Escondico, California.
- A small gift box of tea from Approved by Oprah The Chai Box
- A $1,200 Life Coaching Session with Wellness Expert Kayote Joseph
Although the recipients do not technically pay for any gifts they accept, the value of the goods is considered taxable income, according to the tax authorities.
“If you think of it as ‘what is the intention of providing these items, products or services? “It’s obviously the hope that the celebrity will use this product, go on vacation,” Eric Bronnenkant, tax manager at Improvement, tells CNBC Make It. “They try to influence behavior.”
Still, even with the taxes, Fary says Distinctive Assets goodie bags are a good deal for contestants.
“The reality is if you take a $50,000 trip and all you have to do is pay a percentage tax on that value, you’re still getting a really good deal,” he says. “Nobody wants a deal more than the rich.”
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