TIFF Gift Suite Sponsors Add Charity Component

By Susan O'Neill September 14, 2009, 1:25 PM EDT

The Tastemakers Lounge

Photo: Courtesy of Rock-it Promotions

Sponsored lounges have popped up in the Bloor-Yorkville area to give celebrities and media a place to relax and pick up swag during the Toronto International Film Festival. Here's a look at a few of the lounges around town, many of which have added charitable components this year.

The Tastemakers Lounge, produced by Rock-it Promotions, adopted a “Peace, Love, and Film” theme for its fifth installment, held in the Britannia Room at the Intercontinental Toronto Yorkville. Tastemakers founders Debra Goldblatt and Leesa Butler called on Croma Design Inc. to create a relaxed vibe for the lounge, intended to serve as a respite for celebrities in town to promote films and to expose visiting stars to brands. “We wanted to do something that was special and timely, something that would unite people around a theme globally, and peace seemed like something everybody could get behind,” Butler said.

Ryan Martin and Amy Kent of Croma Design created dozens of white paper doves, which hung from the ceiling, and filled the space with furnishings from the President's Choice Home collection. Photojournalist Rosie Levine will be on hand throughout the festival, inviting guests to flash the peace sign and taking photos for her upcoming book, Celebrity Encounters of the Peace-ful Kind. Proceeds from the book will be donated to War Child. Chef Didier Leroy of Didier Restaurant is catering the lounge and serving items like poached quail eggs and foie gras on fig tartlets. Other participating brands include GUATS, Joe Fresh Beauty, Mattel Inc., mmd Inc., D&G Fragrances, Rowenta Beauty, Chiggy's Touch, Bring Your Own Bag, AMC, and Sexy Gourmet Food Company.

The IT Lounge, produced by NKPR, has taken over the Windsor Arms Hotel again this year. However, organizers have added a twist to the charity component at the gifting suite. As part of the sponsor involvement, participating brands are making contributions to charities of their choice, including the SickKids Foundation, World Vision, WaterKeeper Alliance, and the Canadian Cancer Society. “Philanthropy has always been an integral component of NKPR and of the IT Lounge,” said NKPR president Natasha Koifman. “While the lounge has always had a charity of choice, this year we decided that in a recessionary economy, it was important to contribute in a bigger and bolder way.”

Brands such as Fila, Brooks, Teva, Goody, and Kiehl's are displaying products in a suite where visiting celebrities can pick up swag and learn more about each of the associated charities. This year's lounge also features a media centre, dubbed the Skyy Vodka Media Lounge, created by Casalife. The company transformed the room, laying dark chocolate brown leather flooring over the hotel carpet and wrapping the walls with white fabric to cover the windows. The result is a minimalist space complete with a martini bar where journalists can engage in happy hour from 3 to 6 p.m. every afternoon.

Smashbox Cosmetics is offering free makeovers and touch-ups to the public throughout the 10-day festival in a 60-foot trailer called the Smashbox Beauty Mobile. The trailer, stocked with products from the company's Reign collection, will be parked at various locations across the city during TIFF, including Charles Street West, the Shops at Don Mills, and the intersection of King and Peter streets in the entertainment district. The cosmetics company is also hosting a fund-raising event for People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals at Tryst Nightclub on Tuesday evening. Canadian designer Joeffer Caoc will stage a runway show with fashions made from vegetables.

Jumol Royes and Jessica Glover of JSquared2 Public Relations hosted a press day in the designer penthouse at the Cosmopolitan Hotel Wednesday to promote a new initiative for the festival called Bask-It-Style. “We know that stars have very hectic schedules when they come into town for the festival, so we wanted to create a simple way to get our sponsors' products into their hands,” Royes said. The pair selected 16 companies, including brands like Foxy Originals, Sula Beauty, Teuscher Chocolates of Switzerland, and Trollbeads, and created V.I.P. gift baskets that will be delivered directly to the hotels where the stars are staying.

The PR firm invited media to preview the products at an event where the hotel's Shizen Spa offered hand massages and author Adrienne Kress signed copies of her new novel, Timothy and the Dragon's Gate.

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