By Alesandra Dubin Posted January 12, 2009, 10:59 AM EST
LOS ANGELES As has become de rigeur when big award shows roll into town, a robust slate of gift and hospitality suites blanketed Beverly Hills and the surrounding areas in the days preceding the Golden Globes, which were presented last night. But did the economy affect the offerings?
“Established brands can weather the storm. The HBO Luxury Lounge runs itself, and we sell at least half of it out a year in advance,” said Britt Johnson of Mediaplacement, which produces the network's suites at the Four Seasons. This year, the event again brought 12 vendors to the second floor of the hotel. “As much as people are cutting back in advertising, this sort of marketing seems to do better because it's really effective. When you get 100 shots with celebrities [together with products], you don't have to do that three or four times a year.”
In addition to product giveaways, HBO's setup also offered beauty treatments from an all-white lounge down the hall where L'Oréal Paris makeup artists, hairstylists, and manicurists set up shop.
Although GBK Productions' suites at the 9900 Club (the former Friars Club space, just around the corner from the Beverly Hilton) had a strong showing of more than 100 celebrity RSVPs and 50 to 60 media outlets on site, sponsor dollars proved more difficult to wrangle. GBK's Gavin Keilly gathered about 35 vendors for the event, which was approximately the same number as were present last year, during the strike. Two years ago, the last time the Globes were in full swing, there were about 50.
“I offered my repeat clients a discount because they were struggling and they've been good to me in the past,” Keilly said, adding that the charity tie-in has always been an important factor, and this year GBK's lounge partnered with four organizations. “We started this three years ago, where we were giving 20 percent back to the various charities involved, and more and more are doing that now, which is good. It gives the celebrities a reason to come and support great causes.”
Kari Feinstein's Style Lounge also had a charity tie-in, with proceeds benefiting children's eyecare organization Visual Impact Now. The Style Lounge took over Microsoft's long-term pop-up, Zune L.A., a multilevel curvilinear space on Beverly Boulevard. Mad Men's January Jones hosted a luncheon at the space benefiting the nonprofit, with catering by One Sunset.
In Style's Style Suites, which are not primarily gift suites, were not affected in the same way as some of the others—its participating vendors are advertising partners throughout the year. The magazine's suite at the Four Seasons featured a feminine look in lavender and silver from Caravents, with billowing fabric over a spa treatment tent, where L'Oréal Paris did hair and makeup touch-ups outside. Inside, plush furniture groupings provided seating where guests could nosh on spa-style snacks from the hotel. Jewelry and accessories suites loaned high-end goods. “It goes with the In Style ethos of being more refined and exclusive,” said Caravents' Cara Kleinhaut.
Kleinhaut said that the magazine always planned to go forward with the suite—even in light of the economy and potential Screen Actors Guild strike—and approached her with the typical lead time, in roughly October 2008. (After last year's Globes were canceled, In Style joined forces with HBO for an Emmy suite in the fall.)