Page 59

DAN'S PAPERS, August 27, 2010 Page 58

BUSINESS Givin’ You the

The Ecomony’s Drag on Swag Bags

By T.J. Clemente If you think swag bags, the wonderful fancy shopping bags full of goodies that you get after an event, are feeling a little lighter these days, you are correct. The great economic downturn has affected them too. Even as a guy, I must admit I get excited when I get my bag. It’s that Crackerjack prize, McDonald’s Happy Meal toy, the prize in the cereal box all rolled into one, but for sophisticated adults. However this year the surprises and the wows seem to be disappointing. Although the Martha Stewart green cleaning products in the swag bag from an event hosted by the Group for the East End were great, as was the Lamer

Moisturizing Cream that my fiancée covets from the SPLASH fundraiser, other events had bags stuffed with coupons, magazines that are free all over the East End, and one actually had that day’s newspaper. These are the equivalent of the apples and oranges that simply weigh down and bulk up trick or treat bags. Come on! Where’s the Almond Joy? We talked to a few experts about the sag in the swag bags these days. The first was Jane Ubell-Meyer; her company, the renowned Madison and Mulholland. “I started the gift bag industry in 2001 simply placing gift bags on busses to the Hamptons,” she said. “The business then expanded to celebrity events, parties, premieres, awards shows and airlines.

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In 2004 I re-branded the company to Madison & Mulholland. Now in 2010 we have gifted all summer long on the Hampton Luxury Liner.” Asked about her insights into the most recent developments, Ubell-Meyer paused, and reflected, “In 2005 I was offered a position at FIT, where I started teaching ‘The Art of the Goodie Bag’ in the event planning division. It was then that I realized there was an incredible and overwhelming desire for event planners to come up with a way to satisfy their clients and provide gift bags for attendees. I also learned that one of the most important reasons to participate in a gift bag from a vendor’s perspective is to support a marketing and PR strategy. It’s also important to place the product into the hands of influencers, as well as the media. Now, social media is also an important component. In addition, Madison & Mulholland created a way for high end celebrity gift bags to be auctioned off on line to benefit a charity.” Ubell-Meyer has her own strategy for the best gift bag, even in difficult times. “A great gift bag has a basic formula: 1. A wow gift— perhaps a hand made item, handbag, or any kind of electronics. 2. An ‘I have to have this!’ item, like EcoArtProductions Flip Flips, Dr. Lorenc Anti-Aging Skincare, 3. ‘Fabulous Finds,’ like World’s Softest Socks, JR Watkins lotion travel set, a book, like: Fifth Avenue 5AM, or Notes from the Night 4. Amazing discount gift cards plus cool, NEW and local things we just want! Like a discount on The Fresh Diet, Porsche Design, (great women’s golf shoes), (stunning line of men’s watches). Then there are great little gifts like Altoids Smalls, Local Art Rag, and Wm Greenberg B&W cookies.” I finally asked Ubell-Meyer about this last summer. She leveled with me. “The Gift Bag industry has taken a tough toll this summer, not only because of the economy but also because there were just too many people who jumped onto the ‘goodie bag bandwagon’ without training and who clearly missed their moment to help clients create a layered branding/media/seeding opportunity for their clients.” So what will happen? Ubell-Meyer’s predicts, “The gift bag economy will bounce back in the fall, as event planners and non-profits once again, begin their season. Vendors will definitely see the value of being on top of mind (continued on page 60)

Dan's Papers Aug. 27, 2010  
Dan's Papers Aug. 27, 2010  

Dan's Papers, the 51-year-old bible of the Hamptons, is owned by Manhattan Media, a multi-media publishing company based in New York City,...