Interview by: Kathleene Cochrane
Lash Fary, aka “The Gift Fary,” founder of Distinctive Assets, has been behind the gift bags at the Oscars for the last ten years, and this year the gifting is worth a record-breaking $200,000. Every nominee receives the gift bag, win or lose.
Lash and Distinctive Assets have set new standards for “giving and receiving” through their coveted Gift Baskets and Lounges for events such as the GRAMMYs, Tonys, Kids’ Choice Awards, People’s Choice Awards, MTV Movie Awards and Academy of Country Music Awards. Lash has become a sought-after authority on gifting, product trends and gift etiquette. We asked him about the process.
AMFM: Are there requirements by the sponsors to donate gifts for the gift baskets? There seems to be a diverse and a large monetary gap between them.
Lash Fary: Selection is based on (1) ability of brand to pay the promotional fee, (2) availability of category (as we offer category exclusivity on a first-to-sign basis) and (3) the very basic litmus test of whether or not the inclusion will positively impact the recipient’s life (or have the potential to do so). The price tag is NOT our focus but merely a by-product of doing our job. Because the recipients have such diverse interests, we always strive to come up with an eclectic and diverse selection of items that will appeal to a broad range of individuals.
AMFM: Do sponsors pay to have their products and services in the gift bags?
Lash Fary: The gift items are 100% donated by the participating companies. Plus they pay my firm a promotional fee (starting at $4,000 for standard inclusion but then there are also more expensive sponsorship levels as well) for our efforts in organizing, executing and publicizing the bags.
AMFM: What percentage of the gifts are actually redeemed
Lash Fary: Gift certificate redemptions max out at about 20%. Trips are often less as scheduling is often difficult if not impossible for a busy Oscar nominee.
AMFM: Is there a charitable side to these products? If not redeemed in a certain amount of time are they donated elsewhere?
Lash Fary: Most brands who participate have some sort of official corporate charitable mission. Halo is probably the one client who has included charity as such a big part of their actual gift though with the 10,000 bowl donations. This meal donation also happens to be the most redeemed gift certificate to date by past nominees.
AMFM: Who decides what goes in the gift bags?
Lash Fary: Ultimately, I do.
AMFM: Are the nominee bags different than the winners bags?
Lash Fary: No
AMFM: Can designers, companies or products be sent in for consideration?
Lash Fary: Yes of course. That happens year round.
AMFM: What is, to date, your favorite Gift Bag – and why?
More so than having a favorite bag I have gifts that stand out . . . either because they were fabulous or because celebs responded to them or because I personally loved using them. For example, I LOVE Rouge Maple syrup and love turning friends onto it. Same with Hyrdoxycut Gummies. Although, I must admit that last year’s Everyone Wins Nominee Gift Bag is probably the strongest stand alone gift bag I have ever assembled (or seen assembled).
What's In The Bag?
This year’s nominee gift bag, independently produced for over a decade by the founders of swag at Distinctive Assets, is once again a blend of fabulous, fun and functional items meant to thrill and pamper those who may have everything money can buy but still savor the simple joy of a gift. The 2016 “Everyone Wins” Nominee Gift Bag is already valued in excess of $200,000 (and still growing!
So win or lose, Matt Damon, Cate Blanchett, Jennifer Lawrence, Mark Ruffalo, Sylvester Stallone and Rachel McAdams will have a lot to look forward to the day after the OSCARS!
This year’s gift bonanza stars innovative Haze Dual V3 Vaporizers, MY M&M’s personalized chocolate candies and a year’s worth of fully-‐loaded Audi A4 rentals from Silvercar. Nominees will also receive the ultimate in red carpet beauty support including a lifetime supply of Lizora all-‐in-‐one pu-‐erh tea inspired skin nourishment, Caolion Pore Care Sets and Dr. Jane 360’s proprietary Healing Saint Hair Follicle Stimulant.
Halo, Purely for Pets will not only be launching its brand new Halo Freeze-‐Dried kiblets but will, in partnership with Freekibble.com, provide nominees the opportunity to “feed it forward” by having a 10,000 meal donation made in their name to an animal shelter or rescue of their choice. Previously, animal-‐loving celebs Julianne Moore, Julia Roberts, Meryl Streep, Ethan Hawke and Rosamund Pike all chose shelters or rescues to receive Halo’s generous gift.
The lucky nominees will also receive the following fabulous gifts: personal training sessions with celebrity trainer Alexis Seletzky, chic Belldini women’s apparel, Chocolatines’ Drunken Fig Cake bites, Dandi Patch underarm sweat patch, DELOVERY personalized luxury gift baskets, Farm Wife Style Druzy Earrings, the ultimate fitness package from Fit Club TV: Live in Fitness VIP retreat + Fit Culture Fuel performance supplements + Fit Culture Threads designer workout apparel, Gleener on the Go smart fabric care solutions, Greenhill Winery & Vineyards chardonnay, Harriet’s Cheesecakes, Hydroxycut Gummies, full kitchen sweep and workout program with fitness expert Jay Cardiello, Joseph’s Toiletries “The Welcomer” gift box, Lat & Lo customized sterling silver necklaces, memobottle slim reusable water bottles, Mezcal el Silencio, Mission1 Clean Protein Bars, Nuelle Fiera Arouser for Her, Phantom Glass iPhone screen protector, Purely Inspired Organic Protein, Rouge Maple gourmet fine foods, Sedona Lace synthetic Vortex brush set, ultra premium Signature Vodka, Slimware portion-‐control plates, Steamist Total Sense Home Spa Collection, SunDial Powder Coating, Tools by Gina pure infrared professional hair styling tools, a Concierge Tribute, Vampire Breast Lift, ZEKKLE Edge metal front pocket wallet and 740 Park MD Ultherapy.
And no nominee gift bag would be complete without incredible vacation packages. This year’s headliner vacation is a deluxe fully private off-‐the-‐beaten-‐path walking tour from award-‐winning Walk Japan. Other luxury travel options include Golden Door Spa Retreat, ExploreIsrael.com, Grand Hotel Excelsior in Sorrento, Italy and Grand Hotel Tremezzo on Lake Como.
WHO WILL RECEIVE THE BAG THIS YEAR:
This Year’s Nominees: Bryan Cranston, Matt Damon, Leonardo DiCaprio, Michael Fassbender, Eddie Redmayne, Cate Blanchett, Brie Larson, Jennifer Lawrence, Charlotte Rampling, Saoirse Ronan, Christian Bale, Tom Hardy, Mark Rylance, Mark Ruffalo, Sylvester Stallone, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Rooney Mara, Rachel McAdams, Alicia Vikander, Kate Winslet, Lenny Abrahamson, Alejandro Iñárritu, Adam McKay, Tom McCarthy, George Miller