Another season of the Toronto International Film Festival has come to a close and while TIFF is first and foremost about the movies (okay and maybe the red carpet arrivals and press interviews), the festival has also become a place for companies to showcase their latest products, while getting these exclusives into the hands of Hollywood’s elite. But with more and more of these “gifting lounges” popping up, how effective are they in actually promoting the products? Is there still an appeal? And are they really reaching the A-list celebrities in town, or just serving the local scene? After all, we all love getting free stuff, but let’s be honest: Tiffany’s would rather see their limited-edition silver charm-bracelet on Kristen Stewart than have it snatched up by a posse of fan-girling bloggers… right?
We had a chance to discuss these questions with Deb Goldblatt, whose rock-it promotions team looks after the Tastemakers Lounge – a Canadian gifting suite that this year, took up residence at the InterContinental Toronto Centre on Front Street West.
1. What is the importance of holding these gifting lounges during TIFF? What’s the goal here?
The main goals are two-fold: Firstly, to offer companies the chance for incredible brand exposure and interesting marketing/PR opportunities and two, to celebrate all the talent who have films in TIFF.
2. How is Tastemakers different from the other gifting lounges taking place this week?
We are the longest running lounge in Canada and have the most experience with this festival. I’ve been working on TIFF for about 15 years. We also select our sponsors very carefully and choose brands that we can really get behind.
3. What would you say were three of the more “unique” products you showcased and gave out this year?
Don’t ask a mother to pick her favourite child! Everything is amazing. We’re very happy to have title sponsors La Senza and Yorkdale this year as new partners, and we love having Indeed and popchips as return guests just to name a few.
4. Biggest celebrity to stop by this week?
So many have either received a bag or come to visit – Adrian Grenier was super lovely and it was very cool to have director/legend Rob Zombie visit. He was a big fan of Kimberley’s Granola (editor’s note: who knew?!)
At the other end of the spectrum this year was the Essentials Lounge, a lounge organized by Esther Garnick PR especially for media members. Held at the Hôtel Le Germain, Maple Leaf Square, the goal of the lounge was to “arm the media” with all the “essentials” they would need to survive the ten days of TIFF. Read on to see what Garnick had to say about why she decided to focus on media as oppose to doting on the visiting celebs…
1. What’s the importance of doing these lounges during TIFF?
Gift Lounges have become a staple of the Toronto International Film Festival. They’re not all created equally, but there is one thing that remains: they are a tradition. TIFF wouldn’t be the same without them.
2. What makes the Essentials Lounge different from the other lounges during TIFF?
The Essentials Lounge has become a pre-TIFF ritual that is exclusively for media. We love celebs, but we don’t want them in the Essentials Lounge. We create an environment where hard working journalists can get a taste of A-list treatment before they head out in to the TIFF trenches to cover everything from fashion, films, beauty, parties and beyond – usually on little sleep and with unrealistic filing deadlines. It’s not as glamourous on the other side of the red carpet, so we think it’s important to let the media know that we’re on their side. Plus, we send them away with a haul that is 100% useful to their well-being during the course of their TIFF experience in our Essentials Lounge Survival Kit, as well as products that will help to piece life back together by way of our Recovery Kit.
3. What were one or two products you offered this year that are really unique or “special?”
That’s like asking me to pick my favourite child! All of these products are chosen carefully with the brand partners and they are literally the most important items you’ll need during TIFF. I’d be interested to know what YOUR favourite products from the lounge were! (editor’s note: we went to the lounge and loved our Raw Juice Guru samples as well as the cleverly named and packaged Vitamints)
4. What has the response been from people who attended?
We never get tired of hearing it, but we have gotten consistent feedback about the evolution of the lounge. We’re aiming to expand just a little bit every year and pride ourselves on working with some of the most excellent brands that fit our concept. We also love when people respond by telling us what they think would be great for next year.