The Rich Get Richer Thanks to the Academy

From Total Beauty mistaking Whoopi for Oprah, to Stacey Dash’s appointment to minority outreach after boycotting the #OscarsSoWhite, and the Academy hiring Chris Rock and Sacha Baron Cohen to make highly offensive racist jokes, there were many fails from the 2016 Oscars. Though some take the issues Rock turned into jokes as comedy, I couldn’t help but cringe. How could we publically detest minority in such subliminal ways through jokes and somehow think it helps the issue of the Oscars being too white?


Despite the Academy’s point-and-laugh approach toward the lack of diversity in nominations, there were many fails in the Oscars that were associated with the internal
marketing and public relations of the event.


In 2006, the Academy Awards were under examination by the IRS, demanding the gifting of tax-free “swag bags” to come to a halt. However, despite the demand to discontinue the tax-free gifts, a Los Angeles based marketing firm, Distinctive Assets, continued to give out the extravagant totes without any backlash or consequence.


This year’s “swag bags” included more than $230,000 worth of lavish presents for every nominee and presenter of the ceremony. Anyone working in the PR world can see the major failure of these bags. Despite being illegal, they are highly unnecessary for high-payed, A-list celebrities that could afford anything in the bag on their own dime.


And what’s in these ornate gift bags? What could possibly tally up to over $200,000 in one little bag? Unsurprisingly, it’s pretty absurd.


Some of what the 2016 “swag bag’s” included:


  • Chapstick, $6.
  • Slimware plates, $30.
  • Vaporizer, $250.
  • Joseph’s Toiletries toilet paper, $275.
  • Personalized M&Ms, $300.
  • Vampire breast lift treatment, $1,900, which uses the woman’s blood to personally improve their skins appearance to create a soft touch.
  • Laser treatments, $5,500.
  • Audi car rentals for one year, $45,000.
  • 10-day, first class trip to Tel Aviv, Israel, $55,000, courtesy of the Israeli Ministry of Tourism.


And that’s only half of it.


With unemployment sitting at 6.2 percent in the U.S. Bureau of Labor and Statistics, and almost 644,000 people homeless every night sleeping on the streets, I can’t help but be disturbed by the insensitive lavishness that is being thrown around to people that in no way need such presents. 46.7 million people are living in poverty, yet Hollywood elites gather with their sponsored designer dresses and tuxedos, awarding themselves for the millions that are made in their high-class movies. Why do we feel the need as marketing and PR professionals to feed into such classist behavior? Is it classism or promotion that causes the demand?



Not only are these donations ridiculous and illegal, they also are offending. The Palestine Boycott, Divest and Sanctions movement that encourages boycotts of Israel says those who act on the free trip to Israel will be participating with the propaganda trips that the Israeli government is offering. While the U.S. is an ally to Israel, we should not be accepting bribed trips.


Everything about this made me uncomfortable. Is this really the industry?








“Distinctive Assets.” Distinctive Assets. N.p., n.d. Web. 03 Mar. 2016. <;.

“General Homelessness Facts.” Homelessness Facts & Statistics. N.p., n.d. Web. 03 Mar. 2016. <;.

Israel Ticket Picture. N.d. PR Newser. Web. 3 Mar. 2016. <;.

“Pro-BDS Groups Urge Oscar Nominees to Skip Free Israel Trip – Life.” N.p., 25 Feb. 2016. Web. 03 Mar. 2016. <;.

Swag Bag Photo. N.d. PR Newser. Web. 3 Mar. 2016. <;.

“United States Unemployment Rate | 1948-2016 | Data | Chart | Calendar.” United States Unemployment Rate | 1948-2016 | Data | Chart | Calendar. N.p., n.d. Web. 03 Mar. 2016. <;.

Wood, Shawn Paul. “Why the Oscars 2016 Swag Bag Was a PR Fail.” PRNewser. N.p., 29 Feb. 2016. Web. 03 Mar. 2016. <;.



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