At Emmy time, the gift suites hit Hollywood

LOS ANGELES Sat Sep 17, 2011 12:23pm EDT

A performer is seen during a preview for the 63rd Primetime Emmy Awards Governors Ball in Los Angeles, California September 14, 2011. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson

A performer is seen during a preview for the 63rd Primetime Emmy Awards Governors Ball in Los Angeles, California September 14, 2011.

Credit: Reuters/Lucy Nicholson

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Adults can embrace their inner child with T-shirts by Lotty Dotty featuring the image of a paper doll who comes with her own detachable Velcro clothing to mix and match, changing the doll's outfit to fit the wearer's own personal fashion.

The offbeat shirts are just one of the many items being handed to celebrities at gifting suites in Los Angeles this week in the lead-up to Sunday's Emmy Awards, U.S. television's top honors that bring out A-list Hollywood TV stars.

Gifting lounges have become important marketing tools for companies, and even in the recent gloomy economic climate, the suites open up as a way for established companies and upstarts to gain exposure for new products or reintroductions. In recent years, many have begun to give some proceeds to charities.

By giving their products to celebrities as a "gift," marketers hope consumers will love it enough to use it, get photographed with it, or talk it up on Facebook or Twitter.

While one can never guarantee who on Hollywood's celebrity list will show up, vendors travel from far away to hawk their wares in hopes of striking gold by getting their brand name in front of, and onto, Hollywood stars.

Lotty Dotty's Paris-based co-founder Shevanne Helmer flew in from France to be a part of the Secret Room Events gifting suite on Thursday. With Lotty Dotty shirts selling all over Europe, Japan and Dubai, Helmer decided it was time to try the U.S. market.

"Everyone needs something to make them smile, and the shirts just crack everyone up," Helmer told Reuters. "These shirts let you express yourself and be an individual. And you'll never get tired of it because you can change the look to be as chic or as casual as you want."

FROM WORKOUTS TO VACATIONS

At Kari Feinstein's suite, held on Thursday and Friday, the yet-to-open Cycle House -- a luxury indoor spinning studio -- was inviting celebrities to try out the gym during September, before Cycle House's official opening in October.

"(Being at a suite) is a great way to introduce our brand," owner Lara Gillman told Reuters. "We know there's a huge spinning community in Hollywood and we want them to know about us. If we can get them in the door and give them a free trial run, we know they'll love it."

Other luxury items making their way to celebrities during the week include free trips to Fiji at the Secret Room Events and ComforPedic memory foam mattresses at GBK's gifting lounge.

Meanwhile, HP TouchPad PCs -- one-pound laptops -- are being gifted at the aptly named HP TouchPad Gift Lounge, backstage at the Nokia Theater, where the Emmys Awards take place.

Royce Ware jewelry designer Cynthia Mace, who hails from Oregon, came to L.A. as a vendor at the Endless Summer Emmy suite, held earlier in the week.

For Mace, the trip was about "exposure" for her Divine Protection and All Saints line of sterling silver necklaces and bracelets. It's a line that's very dear to her, as Mace was inspired to create them when her sons served overseas with the Air Force. She and her eldest son, Royce, were on hand with an array of jewelry featuring rosary-inspired chains, saints medallions and dog tags with crosses, among other designs.

"For us it wasn't about the celebrities -- it was about those who were drawn to the line and wanted to know more about it," Mace said.

But will it boost their business?

"We got a lot of good response to it, but we won't really know until we see who ultimately calls us or goes to our website to place an order," she said. "You never know, but it's exposure, so we're hopeful and optimistic."

For Helmer and her Lotty Dotty line, the suites were a resounding success. By the end of Thursday, she ran out of the 130 shirts she had brought with her and had the e-mail addresses of more than 50 suite visitors to whom she will be sending out the product.

"The response has been overwhelming," Helmer said. "It's been worth every single cent coming here."

(Reporting and writing by Zorianna Kit; Edited by Sheri Linden and Bob Tourtellotte)