Oscar presenters will be given £14,000 party bags

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The Independent Culture

It is hard work being a presenter at the Oscars. Honest.

That is why, in order to lure the various glittering celebrities, including Gwyneth Paltrow and Kevin Spacey, to hand out a statuette, they are offered a little inducement. Or, perhaps one should say, a big inducement.

This year's little 'thank-yous' from the producers will include a designer handbag from CJ & Me, a watch worth more than £1,000 and vouchers covering everything from a stay at a Mexican spa to a teeth-whitening session and a new bed.

According to organisers of this year's event – on March 24 – the gift bags will be more valuable than ever and worth an estimated £14,000 each.

It begs the question: why do celebrities, already overflowing in money and product endorsements need anything else? "Because they do work quite hard," says Jaimi Blakley, whose product placement company, Distinctive Assets, produced last month's goody bags for the Grammys.

"They come to these award shows and do them for free. We're talking about live performance, so there is a dynamic of stress involved," she said.

But that, of course, is not entirely the point. The gift bag phenomenon has grown because companies fall over themselves to have their products associated with celebrities. They not only provide the goodies for free, they volunteer to donate more to charity, just so the arrangement looks better.

At the Grammys, for example, the very mention of a spa complex in Beverly Hills – vouchers for which were included in the celebrity gift package – led to an overwhelming rise in new customers. "I can think of no better vehicle to market a product than a celebrity," Ms Blakley said.

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