Senior Editor
02.18.09 75 Comments

In a sad, sad indication of our times, this year at the Oscars it seems the economic downturn has affected even the giving-free-shit-to-celebrities industry.

“The country has shifted, and I think that bling is out,” said Jane Ubell-Meyer from Madison and Mulholland, which bills itself as a VIP gift bag and product placement company. “I think that people are a little more conservative and they don’t want to flaunt it in everyone’s faces.”
Madison and Mulholland is focusing on “affordable luxury” [like corndogs and masturbating? -ed] this year. Ubell-Meyer said that it was important to create what she hopes is a respectful and thoughtful image.

That’s right, a bitch who makes a living getting companies to pay her to give their shit away for free wants you to know she feels your pain, Joe Shitkicker.  She’s not planning to actually help, mind you, but she’ll be careful not to rev her Bentley too loudly on her way past your hovel. That would be tacky.

Freebies this year will be scaled back from the “old days” — before this year’s recession and last year’s writers’ strike — to include a high-end vacuum cleaner worth several hundred dollars, a handbag worth about $200, a toothbrush sanitizing gadget for around $30 and handmade jewelry.

But one of the biggest suites in Hollywood is still going all out. Gavin Keilly, CEO of GBK Productions [aka Some Dipshit’s Initials, LLC], told CNN that plenty of high-end products were scheduled for his lounge.

“It’s amazing to me that even in these times, [companies are showing off big-ticket items],” he said. “I think it is even more blingy.”

Among those “blingy” items: $10,000 vacations to a destination spa, $8,000 to $18,000 watches, and a year’s worth of Botox, Restylane and microdermabrasion valued at $3,000.

After all, the only thing better than poison you shoot into your face is free poison you shoot into your face.

Swag suites and gifting lounges — events that companies use to get their products into the hands of celebrities — are valuable during a recession, Ubell-Meyer and Keilly say.

Of course they say that.  If I can be permitted to reiterate: they get paid to give other people’s shit away for free. Have you ever noticed that the less you make, the murkier your actual job duties, the more money you earn?  It’s like you can charge people a shitload as long as they can’t pin down what it is you actually do.

At Keilly’s lounge, for example, clients pay $5,000 to $10,000, depending on the type of vendor. And most of them have asked for a discount this year. “Everyone always tries to get a deal, but this year, over any year, they are trying harder,” he said. “Some regulars I have offered a discount to because I don’t want them going to a competitor.” [CNN]

This reminds me of the time my friend worked for MetLife, and he got a baseball cap that said MetLife, and it was funny, because were like, “Hey, they don’t have a baseball team!”

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