LOS ANGELES Back in Los Angeles after a long absence to tour other cities, MTV's Video Music Awards rolled into town this past weekend with all of the related events in tow, including those ubiquitous swag and hospitality suites. And this time, the suites took over some distinctive L.A. properties that seemed to call attention to the particular character of this year's VMA host city.
Hype Marketing's House of Hype took over a massive home above Hollywood, a property so big and far from its neighbors that it dominates an entire hillside. The setup at the house featured a photo booth and T-shirt screenprinting by Hit & Run by day, with live performances by Young Jeezy and Robin Thicke into the wee hours throughout the weekend. Guests reached the property—which features a grotto pool, a sand volleyball court, and expansive downtown-to-ocean views—by way of shuttle from a parking garage on the Sunset Strip below. Video directors Chris Robinson, Jessy Terrero, and Anthony Mandler nominally cohosted the House of Hype programming in honor of their award nominations.
Organizers of the music-video-evocative House of Hype (where girls in bikinis and heels danced in and around the pool) emphasized the property's hangout factor, versus its swag opportunities. “We were looking for people who wanted to spend some quality time with us, mingle, interact, develop future business oportunities with the brands,” said coproducer Sam Keywanfar. “A lof of business gets done, networking happens, relationships get built that live on beyond the event.”
Meanwhile, the Verizon Wireless Samsung Style Villa took over two levels on the rooftop of the Thompson hotel in Beverly Hills, with gift suites and cabanas surrounding a poolside space on cloudless warm days, both Friday and Saturday. Pristine city views surrounded sunglasses- and sundress-clad guests, who collected goods from the likes of Apple Bottoms and Urban Decay, and maneuvered gingerly around the pool in the intimate setting.
Event Eleven custom built planter boxes to doll up the space around brands' offerings, and moved out the existing chaise lounges. “We totally worked with the Thompson look,” said Event Eleven's Tony Schubert. “It's not necessarily your modern, sleek, all-white thing. We made it a little more natural, a little more sophisticated this time around.” Buckets of Red Bulls and vitamin-infused waters dotted the area—a theme at the weekend's hospitality suites, which seemed to acknowledge many guests' fatigue (and their hangovers), even early in the event-packed weekend. Schubert added, “It's definitely not more subdued than working in Vegas [which hosted the VMAs and the Style Villa last year]. In fact, certainly because the celebrities all live here, it's better attended.”
Downstairs, in an eighth-flooor penthouse at the Thompson, Fingerprint produced a hospitality suite for jewerly line Lia Sophia. The brand touted its new collection, 20/20 (which had not been previously shown at recent Lia Sophia events such as Malibu's Project Beach House this summer) in a space surrounded by walls of windows and sweeping city views, amid very Thompson furnishings like an animal skin rug. In addition to sipping on Ciroc vodka cocktails and Nicolas Feuillatte Palme d'Or Champagne, guests could fuel their relentless VMA weekend schedules with the packets of Eboost that dotted the tabletops.