Gift bags have become such a big deal in Hollywood that one cosmetics advertiser brags in radio spots that it is “selected” for Tinseltown’s most glamorous giveaways. So it was amusing to see the Women’s Image Network Awards’ sad-by-any-standard offering. Here’s the inventory: bag from The Hollywood Reporter, but no current issue inside (THR, like AdFreak, is part of VNU); bottle of Celsius sugar-free energy drink; bag of “Everybody’s Nuts!” pistachios; 1.75-ounce sampler of Don Francisco coffee (and a 50-cents-off coupon, too, good “for any can”—ground or whole bean!); and a Beautyhabit catalog with a 10-percent-off coupon! Let the querulous wrinkles on the brow begin! Nike was honored as advertiser of the year, but no coupon for a free pair of Shox. Pinky vodka was a sponsor, but no samplers to mix with the coffee. The gift-bagging elves must have had a premonition, though, as the event itself, held last Wednesday, was something of a mysterious flop, too. Despite boasting Harry Shearer as emcee and presenters such as Katie Holmes, Greg Kinnear, and American Idol’s “Ace” Young, the event drew only about a third of the UCLA Freud Playhouse’s 586 capacity, tops, and there were those embarrassing pauses when the audience doesn’t really want to applaud and has to be egged on. Ad-agency attendance was spotty. Of the winning stars, only a couple, including Mary McDonnell, were there in person—and they were all presenters. Maybe, in the end, the pistachios cheered them up.
—Posted by Gregory Solman