Celebrity chef Art Smith turns wedding into marketing opportunity
When did weddings become a marketing opportunity? When sponsors pay to donate goodies for the gift bags.
Celebrity chef Art Smith is seeking sponsors for his Aug. 21 nuptials to his longtime partner, artist Jesus Salguerio. A flier sent last week to top PR companies offers commercial underwriting: $2,500 for the privilege of donating 350 items for guest gift bags; $20,000 and 350 products gets four tickets to the celebration. Part of the proceeds, according to the flier, will go to Common Threads, Smith's charity to teach healthy living to poor children.
The offer mentions "invited guests" (i.e., not confirmed): the Obamas, the Bidens, George W. Bush, Jessica Simpson and Oprah Winfrey (Smith used to be her private chef), who would presumably take home said gift bag.
"The charity wasn't mentioned much, so it wasn't clear why they were trying to get sponsorship for the wedding," said the owner of a Boston-based national PR firm, who received the solicitation last week. "Having worked in both PR and politics, I was surprised to see the Obamas' name used as a way to raise money."
The L.A. company responsible for the bags also assembled the fabulous swag for the Oscars. Inclusion doesn't come cheap: Donating even a modest item ($30) for each of Smith's guests will run each sponsor more than $10,000.
Too commercial? Smith doesn't think so. "I don't live a private life," he told us. "We're not accepting gifts. We're only asking that our guests think of the charity, if they wish to."
The couple announced their plans to wed in Washington soon after the city approved same-sex marriage this spring. Their wedding "is probably the most visible gay wedding of the year," Smith said, adding: "I want to show America that you can live better, and support children. The only way we can make this all work is create strategic partnerships."
He got the idea in March, when his 50th-birthday party raised $1 million, he said, including a $250,000 present from Oprah. The success of the event convinced him to do the same thing at his wedding.
The celebration begins with a run from Smith's Art and Soul restaurant on Capitol Hill to the Washington Monument (Nike is sponsoring running shoes for every guest), where spiritualist Marianne Williamson will bless the couple. There'll be the ceremony and BBQ lunch at the restaurant, followed by a rooftop pool party with a surprise celebrity DJ later that night. (Hint: He's a vegan.) Smith wouldn't comment on the guest list, except to say: "They're are a lot of great people in my life. "
Too much? "If it wasn't over the top, they'd be taking away my gay card, honey," Smith said with a laugh.
The Reliable Source
July 20, 2010; 1:04 AM ET
Save & Share: Previous: Surreal Estate: Wone slaying house for sale
Next: Quoted: Drake wants to star in President Obama biopic (photo comparison)
Posted by: rlj1 | July 20, 2010 8:46 AM | Report abuse
Posted by: cfow1 | July 20, 2010 10:12 AM | Report abuse
Posted by: SoCali | July 20, 2010 10:23 AM | Report abuse
Posted by: 7900rmc | July 20, 2010 2:05 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: groover016 | July 21, 2010 12:36 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: Blinkie | July 21, 2010 2:41 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: captn_ahab | July 21, 2010 5:14 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: TnIndependent | July 23, 2010 1:20 PM | Report abuse
The comments to this entry are closed.