The theme song for Sundance could possibly be the one on the radio from Echo Smith- the chorus goes “I wish that I could be like the cool kids; cuz all the cool kids they seem to get in.” Oh, how true it is – many times a day- during the Sundance Film Festival.
We all wish we could be like the cool kids weaving in and out of the special sponsor lounges and suites peppering Main Street carrying paper bags filled with odd gadgets and beanies.
One of the cool kids
Bloggers are apparently the cool kids this year at Sundance. The hottest YouTube and Vine sensations are getting in on the networking here. I’m told that kids nowadays could care less about TV and film actors. They’re all about those three-minute wonders dishing on fashion, style, food or just themselves. (I couldn’t name a single one but I’m not under 13).
Companies staking tables inside Sundance lounges are responding like dogs to salami when you mention you blog. I tested it myself at the Talent Resources Suites inside the Blue Iguana Cafe. The reaction between saying “I’m a writer” versus “I’m a blogger” was mindboggling. The gal from Moose Knuckles outerwear couldn’t stop shaking my hand. I got all warm and fuzzy. I’d love to try out one of their coats.
We’ve already talked about the parties and the VIP party list, now let’s talk schmoozing. The gifting machine has changed quite a bit this year as advertising agencies try to figure out Park City’s latest batch of rules surrounding the operation of businesses as ‘pop ups’. A company (usually a branding agency) swoops in and rents a retail space on Main. Then they invite retail companies like Motorola or Sorel or Ex Officio to take a corner for meet and greets, gifting and photo opps.
Breaking Bad’s RJ Mitte chatting up Westrock Coffee
Every year at Sundance, licensing for sponsors and sponsor booths gets more complicated and this year is no exception. “For some reason no matter how buttoned up or how experienced we are there is nothing easy about it,” said Talent Resources CEO Mike Heller about his company’s TR Suites. “The festival doesn’t love the pop up gifting suites so they make it extra hard to execute.” Heller says they work closely with the town to make sure they follow complete protocol. “Each year new rules and regulations are created that we have to make sure we update and adhere to.” TRS has been hosting brands for seven years.
The basic gist of the latest rule change is that every single business within a rented space that wants to gift has to get its own business license. The parent company who runs the space can purchase an umbrella license and save the other companies the hassle but there’s a deadline and there are stipulations. Then if you want to serve alcohol or food or be open late at night you’ve got even more rules to contend with. So it’s no surprise that there was less gifting and more massaging. “Gifting’s out. The trend is about creating a unique experience,” said Kate Elfatah. She started as a designer of the cutest kids dresses and she was hooked after her first experience showcasing at Sundance. Three years later, she’s running her own
Bang & Olufsen Lounge where film guests, VIPs and media can come for the pampering. There are massages, hair stylists, makeup artists, even eyelash extension appointments.
The space is also used for panel discussions and private parties. She did bring in clients for a tiny bit of exclusive gifting, however, and I doubt anyone’s complaining (or not taking).
Jaybird is featuring their new Reign fitness bracelet and app and the wonderful Urban Decay make-up gal reminded me why I love their Naked Foundation.
The Eddie Bauer Adventure House basically offered a place for a drink, cup of coffee with Califia Almond Milk, chat with an athlete and a chairlift photo while you’re sprinkled with fake snow made of bubbles. At night they had parties.
At Lipton Lounge you taste their new canned lemonade, you jump into a box of plastic balls, get a massage and have your nails done.
The EcoLuxe Lounge had a mixture of both experience and gifting. Plus, hosting at Cisero’s, they had the best food! I’d take pizza and spaghetti over a jar of lotion any day. They offered seated chair massages, open bar, makeup applications (with a gift of J. Andre natural cosmetic sponges)
and you could slide your feet into a cozy pair of Pakems you customize yourself while you lounged.
The TR Suites offered the more original gifting experience and celebs like Walking Dead’s Laurie Holden and Jane The Virgin’s Gina Rodriguez were clamoring for the swag.
Gifting is still the ideal way to get your products in the hands of influencers. It’s one thing to look at something it’s another to be able to take it home and play with it.
I loved being able to give the evil eye to those companies who don’t get that. Alex and Ani were showing off their new collection and it was fun to see them there.
Speaking of seeing, Vuarnet is back! The undeniably French brand that covered every skier’s eyes in the 80s fell off the map but with new owners and US distributors, the company is using Sundance to launch and rebrand themselves. The frames with glass lenses retail from $180-$500 and the company will position themselves as a luxury brand. I can’t remember how I could afford the Cateyes back then as a highschooler and now I really can’t imagine buying a pair. Fortunately, I was gifted my very own pair of with Polarlynx lenses.
CAT footwear was back and celebs were scooping up the boots. Nothing was left in my size but I’m still wearing a pair that look as great now as they did when CAT gave them to me.
UK brand Superdry has been at Sundance before but this time they partnered with TR to gift jackets.
TR Suites also had food like the very yummy Mellow Mushroom Pizza (now located in Sugarhouse!), Jackson’s Honest Potato Chips one of the only chips made with healthier coconut oil instead of polyunsaturated vegetable oils, Yellow Tail Wine and Westrock Coffee (bringing beans from Rwanda and paying locals a fair wage.)
To be honest, as much as I loooovvvee free stuff I’m kind of glad there wasn’t more gifting. I’d be stuck at home writing instead of out mingling. Off to the races!