The very Hollywood-like concept of a gift lounge has come to this year's Hong Kong International Film Festival. Yes, the free grab of goodies for stars and celebrities at shows like the Oscars is now part of the local cinephile event. The invitation-only suite is sequestered somewhere in the W Hotel and is run by Nathalie Dubois-Sissoko, whose company has been arranging such VIP gifting concepts at other festivals, such as Cannes, Toronto and Dubai.
'The Hong Kong festival people came to us in Dubai and said, why don't you come to Hong Kong and do it here?' Dubois-Sissoko said. 'For companies, it's less expensive than doing their own public relations. They get six months' recognition in one package. It's a great platform and their products are a centrepiece in the festival.' In addition to various beauty products and designer gear, local brands taking part include MingCha teas and Calamansi Bijoux jewellery, which are hoping some of the fame entering the suite will rub off on their brand. Among those swift to the swag, before the festival even started on Sunday, were Race Wong Yuen-ling and Vanness Wu Jian-hao. Some VIPs will be offered a Bora Bora vacation.
Dubois-Sissoko is quick to add that it's a valid business practice. 'It's a marketing tool. There has not really been a change in attitude. Movie stars are seen as trend leaders everywhere. It's win-win for everyone. And if companies have no business, jobs will be lost.'