Poptimism

Inside the $200,000 ‘Unofficial’ 2016 Oscars Gift Bag

by Mike Albo

February 22, 2016
Image via (cc) Flickr user llee_wu

$300 personalized M&Ms; a 10-day, first-class trip to Israel ($55,000); a $45,000 walking tour of Japan. Oh, and $275 toilet paper.

The internet blew up with news of the 2016 Oscars gift bag. These were bags full of surreal luxuries, given to celebrities in the hope they will promote the products. But the story behind the bag is a little deeper than just some gaudy display of excess.

The company that puts the bags together, Distinctive Assets, is a Los Angeles-based marketing firm that has no affiliation with the Academy Awards. It calls the bags the “Everyone Wins at the Oscars! Nominee Gift Bags.” 

On February 16, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences filed suit against Distinctive Assets seeking an injunction and damages. Last year, the Academy warned the company to stop using the Academy name and its trademarked “Oscars” without a disclaimer. With this year’s bag, “we had no choice but to file a lawsuit,” an Academy spokesperson said Friday.

“Distinctive Assets’ continued use of the Academy’s trademarks not only infringes the Academy’s trademarks,” reads the filing, “but it is also likely to dilute the distinctiveness of the Academy’s famous trademarks and tarnish their goodwill.”

In the year of #OscarsSoWhite, it’s no secret that the Academy is trying hard to burnish its image. Just 10 years ago it gave out gift bags, a practice it stopped in 2006 after the IRS began to focus on the tax obligations of the gift. (According to federal tax law, gift bags are seen as income, and therefore, recipients must pay taxes on them.)

Before the 2006 Academy Awards, the IRS issued a warning to celebrities, and board members of the Academy officially voted to end their gift-basket program in April of that year.

The gift basket from the 2006 awards show contained a 60-GB iPod from Apple, a vintage Kay Unger silk kimono, a six-night stay at the JW Marriott Ihilani Resort & Spa in Hawaii and a BlackBerry 8700c. It was estimated to be worth more than $100,000.

Regardless of its origin, a list of the contents of the unofficial 2016 gift bag is eye-popping. It should win its own award for opulent satire. Here's the full list of items:

  • Haze Dual Vaporizer ($250)
  • Personalized M&Ms ($300)
  • A 10,000-meal donation made in the nominee's name to an animal shelter or rescue of their choice ($6,300)
  • A lifetime supply of Pu-erh Tea Nourishing Cream and Pu-erh Tea Cleansing Bar ($31,200)
  • A year's worth of Audi car rentals from Silvercar ($45,000)
  • 10-day all-expenses-paid trip to Israel ($55,000)
  • Tribute video services ($125)
  • Caolion Ultimate Pore Care gift set ($134)
  • Healing Saint Luminosity skin serum and hair follicle stimulant ($193)
  • Private 15-day walking tour of Japan ($54,000)
  • 10 personal training sessions with Alexis Seletzky ($900)
  • Belldini gift certificate ($300)
  • Chapstick ($6)
  • Chocolatines Drunken Fig Cake Bites ($35)
  • Dandi Patch anti-perspirant solution ($21)
  • Delovery gift basket ($2,000)
  • Druzy earrings ($25)
  • Fit Club TV “Ultimate Fitness Package” ($6,250)
  • Gleener on the Go ($12)
  • 3-day stay at the Golden Door Resort & Spa in San Marcos, California ($4,800)
  • 3-night stay at the Grand Hotel Excelsior Vittoria in Sorrento, Italy ($5,000)
  • 3-night stay at the Grand Hotel Tremezzo in Lake Como, Italy ($5,000)
  • Greenhill Blanc de Blancs wine ($39)
  • Hydroxycut Gummies ($20)
  • 3 fitness training sessions with Jay Cardiello ($1,400)
  • Joseph's Toiletries toilet paper ($275)
  • Sterling silver necklace ($150)
  • Memobottles ($47)
  • El Silencio Mezcal ($75)
  • Mission1 protein bar ($6)
  • Nuelle Fiera arouser for her ($250)
  • Phantom Glass screen protector ($50-$60)
  • Purely Inspired Organic Protein ($20)
  • Rouge Maple culinary products ($99)
  • Sedone Lace makeup brush set ($110)
  • Signature Vodka ($70)
  • Slimware plates ($30)
  • Steamist spa system ($5,060)
  • Sundial powder coating ($500)
  • Blow dryers and flat irons ($250)
  • Vampire Breast Lift ($1,900)
  • Wallet ($125)
  • 740 Park plastic surgery ($5,530)

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Inside the $200,000 ‘Unofficial’ 2016 Oscars Gift Bag