What's In That $160,000 Oscar Gift Bag?

Don't cry for them, Argentina. Just because most of the Academy Award nominees won't be going home with Oscar gold doesn't mean their lives aren't golden. Thanks to those (in)famous swag bags we've all heard about, these highly gifted people are treated to countless goodies that many of us only dream about. (Maybe.) This year's "Everybody Wins at the Oscars" gift bag by Distinctive Assets is worth a record-breaking $160,000 including a year's worth of Audi A4 rentals, a luxury train ride through the Canadian Rockies, hair follicle stimulants (!) and so much more. But do celebs really use these products? And how does all this stuff find its way into these swanky bags o' swag? I caught up with Lash Fary, the gift guru himself and founder of Distinctive Assets, to break it all down.

Hi Lash! You're already getting quite a bit of buzz for this year's gift bag not only because the estimated value, but because of a couple of the items including a umm… rather personal massaging device and $20k psychic reading/horoscope. How in the world did you decide to include these? How popular do you think they'll be with the recipients?

Things change quickly in Hollywood, so first of all the updated value of the nominee gift bag is over $160,000 now! As for including more unique or personal items, I have always found actors to be incredibly open minded and interested in new experiences. The incredible mind control session with Enigma Life may seem "odd" to the lay person, but after having my own personal session with the founder Olessia Kantor I knew instantly it would be something actors would LOVE. She can teach you relaxation techniques using color visualization and also focus methods which can be used for better memorization of lines. It is the PERFECT resource for an actor. I think Reese, Julianne and Bradley will love it!

As for the [other personal items], I don't really find them surprising or shocking. I truly believe sex and pleasure should be a part of our everyday lives. And because these Oscar nominees can't visit the Pleasure Chest like you or I without ending up photographed by paparazzi, we simply make access easy for them right from the privacy of their own home.

You do gifting all year long for events like the Oscars, Grammys and MTV Movie Awards. How do you cater to each show? In other words, what's the vetting process of how you decide what to put in?

There are really two parts to the vetting process. First, I have to think the product is useful, fun, cool or interesting. That has nothing to do with the price tag. Second, the company in question has to be able to afford the promotional fee we charge to be part of one of our events.

Are you ever at a loss for products to include?

Not yet. And it's been 16 years.

It seems that there are a lot of "official" gift bags for big events like the Oscars. How do you ensure your products actually get into the hands of celebrities?

Actually there are no official gifts for the Oscars. While we are usually the official gift company for our events (like at the GRAMMY Awards) for the Oscars, we are gifting the major nominees on our own and with no official affiliation with the Academy. Because we have been gifting talent for 16 years, we have relationships with almost everyone. Oftentimes, we have home addresses for talent and/or direct contact with their assistants. Sometimes we have a nice relationship with their agents and managers. Because of all the press received about the high value of the Oscar bag in particular, we also get calls directly from talent reps making sure we have the correct delivery address! Over the years our clients start getting calls and seeing photos of stars wearing their gifts just days after delivery, so our clients know they can trust our access, reputation and track record.

Are there any products that have really skyrocketed in popularity after being introduced to celebs via your gift bags?

MANY. JNL Fashion had a huge bump in sales after Amy Adams was seen wearing their Strong is the New Skinny t-shirt from her Oscar bag. Bee Free Honey doubled web orders after all the Oscar buzz last year. Dr. Jane, creator of Healing Saint products, has been flooded with online orders after being backstage at the GRAMMYs with us a couple weeks ago. We were the first company to gift Keurig coffee machines when they were first introduced a decade ago and people were still trying to figure out coffee from pods . . . and look where they are now!

It sounds like it'll be hard to top what you've done for the Oscar gift bag. What's in store next?

Luckily, the price tag of a gift bag is NEVER my benchmark for success. This year's gift assortment is truly the best I have ever done in 16 years not because of the value but because it is such a great mix of beauty, gadgets, trips, art . . . and even charity. Halo Natural Pet Food is making a 10,000 meal donation in each nominee's name to an animal shelter of their choice. Last year, Meryl Streep, Julia Roberts, Barkhad Abdi and June Squibb all chose shelters. Like all gifts, it's the thought not the price tag that counts. And luckily it will likely be all different recipients next year so they won't have this year's spectacular gift bag as the benchmark!

Thank You!

No, thank YOU!

For more information visit: www.distinctiveassets.com

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