You know the "stars have it so good" columns in all the weeklies - who has what, where they're going, etc?
And you know those "candid" shots of - I don't know - say Lindsay Lohan, walking down the street, holding - prominently, I may add - nicotine gum to stop smoking?
Well, they're not always accidents: Brands are paying for this placement.
As every brand knows, being able to say a celebrity has or uses your product is the best implicit endorsement there is. Plus, it's a quick means to instant press. Hence, celebrity gifting. There are a few ways to get your products in the right hands.
1. Get lucky, bump into someone, have your product on you, hand it over, and try to sneak a photo of them holding it. One of my summer interns used to have celeb sightings daily. A-list ones. I gave her a bag of products to pass on to anyone she saw. She got shewed away by Gwen Stefani's nanny once in Gramercy Park. Oh well. It made for an excellent Facebook update!
2. Know someone who knows someone - a friend of a friend. That is how I got to the lovely Nicky Hilton, FYI, though I have met her many times in the past and think she is an absolute doll. Saying her name got Huge Lips Skinny Hips in Life & Style! 3. Mailings. If you know or can get to the celebrity's PR person, you can send to them. Just know that there is a big risk - risk of the products going to the publicist herself - or her interns. And if the PR girl is nice enough to pass on to the bold faced name in question, you can't really use it in the media unless you get a confirmation by way of thank you note, quote, or permission from said publicist.
Keep in mind - publicists are flooded with products for their clients on an hourly basis. And you have to be mindful - if you're a beauty brand (ahem, Purple Lab), you can never use a girl who has a beauty contract (i.e. Eva Longoria, Molly Sims, Gwyneth - off limits).
I must admit - I got lucky. When my celebrity mailing went out through a PR friend I've known for years, Lisa Rinna tweeted about it the next day! But I got no love from the others. Kind of stinks because when you're on a budget, every dime counts.
4. Gift bags/gift suites. There are typically charges to get this kind of placement, especially suites. And when you're in gift bags, you may or may not be allowed to use the names of the vital recipients. (So get that information before you donate, FYI.) In the suites, there are ops to get a photo of someone major with your product. The ultimate score because you own that pic - for your site, the magazines, whatever promotional purposes you desire.
I was in a Grade A gift bag for a Hollywood event that left me the rights to say that a gaggle of good ones use my product! Thank you Jennifer Love Hewitt, Debra Messing, Kristen Bell, Michelle Trachtenberg, and Tyra Banks for going to this event (sorry - can't say what it was or I may never be allowed back in again!).
5. The agencies. Okay, there are tons of agencies who do mailings and for certain fees, you're guaranteed quotes (the bigger the name, the larger the fee - i.e. Fergie is a FORTUNE!). They also do staged paparazzi shots (see Lindsay Lohan), ensuring that your product is in perfect position. Did you know that someone from The Hills may go for $7,000 just to be forced-seen in your jeans and captured on camera? If that's for Heidi, imagine what Christina Aguilera would run you. The biggest names won't stoop to this level of revenue streams (that probably includes Christina - just a guess).
6. Have chutzpah! Sharon, our Communications Director, a.k.a. Pitbull, got into a Perez Hilton bash and busted her way into the V.I.P. room, armed with a dozen glosses. She got them to the cast of the NY Housewives, Perez himself (he now owns Red Sole for the perfect bee-stung pout), and Christian Siriano, who gave her a quote about how the gloss tastes like gummy bears.
Guess who got in In Touch the following week?
Pays to be a star, doesn't it!
Purple Lab Creatrix