Artists in town for the 19th annual MuchMusic Video Awards filled gift bags with products from brands like Puma, Fido, and Zune on Saturday at the fourth installment of Rockstar Hotel, produced by District Lifestyle Marketing. The event—launched at the Juno Awards in Saskatoon in 2007 and held at Calgary's Junos again this year—made its second MMVA appearance at the Gladstone Hotel on the eve of the award show.
“It's a total takeover. We've got it top to bottom this year,” John Price, director of brand partnerships for Y Syndicate (DLM's parent company), said of the hotel. “Last year we got around to securing the venue a little bit late, so there were some folks who had booked rooms. There was one couple on their honeymoon. To their surprise, they found themselves partying with Maroon 5.” This year, the Gladstone's main floor housed performance spaces, the second-floor rooms held the gift suites, and the third floor included a number of artist rooms where visiting celebrities could go to get away from the 700 invited guests. “It's very much that type of person who lives, works, and plays downtown,” Price said of the guest list. “It is a closed list, so you do have to be in the know to receive an invite.”
DLM divided the guest list into three categories, including “V.V.I.P.,” the artists and performers who had access to the gift suites; “V.I.P. Plus,” guests who could take advantage of free drinks and had access to the entire venue; and “V.I.P.,” those who got into the main floor and had to pay for drinks at the cash bar. Traffic flow between the hotel floors slowed considerably as the night wore on, with throngs of people (including recording artist Fefe Dobson) waiting for as long as 30 minutes to get past the security guards limiting access to the upper levels, due to capacity.
Title sponsor Puma—which presented a late-night fashion show on the hotel's fourth floor— and sponsors Fido, Zune, New Era, and Fuze all showcased new products in a series of gift suites. Access to the Puma room was strict, with only V.V.I.P. guests being allowed through the door to fill shopping bags with shoes and clothing. Guests visiting the Fido room had the chance to win a new A736 phone and to sip on Pink Poodle and Great Dame cocktails. The New Era room showcased ball caps bearing images of the Incredible Hulk, Iron Man, and Captain America. In the Fuze room, guests could sample new vitamin-enhanced juices (due out in Canada next month) and have their auras painted by a psychic.
“We saw an opportunity to take gifting to a new level in this country,” Price said of the concept for Rockstar Hotel. “Showing up to an event and walking away with a gift bag is sometimes really disappointing. We wanted to ensure that our attendees get top-of-the-line stuff before it hits.” So how does the agency select the brands they want to showcase? “We look at what their objectives are,” Price said. “For example, Puma is a lifestyle brand that has a lot of interest in that sort of tastemaker, that urban-dwelling consumer ... we want to make sure the brands are appropriate for the attendees.”
Additional event sponsors included Heineken, Xbox 360, Dose.ca, E!, Exclaim!, and Resource Integrated. “There's a lot of great giveaways that are happening and great interaction on site,” Price said. Pink Mafia lined up the performances by Fierce Helder, Shit La Merde, Hatchmatik & Merk Meny, Sandra, and Guns N Bombs. Artists from the various bands, as well as the musicians in town for the MMVAs, also had the chance to play together in a jam room. “People can pick up an instrument and just start playing,” he said. “It's kind of a free-for-all ... it's a gong show, but it's fun as hell.”