Giving Out Swag or The Free Sample

At last count there were more than five hundred award shows where nominees and or attendees receive swag “bags.” What is swag? The traditional definition of “swag” as a noun defined by the Oxford Languages Dictionary is, 1. a curtain or piece of fabric fastened so as to hang in a drooping curve, and 2. money or goods taken by a thief or burglar. Those definitions were changed by the modern vernacular a couple of decades ago.

Today from hip-hop lyrics to the red carpets of award shows sway means sought after “merchandise.” For the social media generation, swag could be flashy jewelry, fancy cars, game consoles or just a cool outfit. Backstage at award shows and fund raisers for non-profits, swag means free samples for the influencers.

Making Free Samples Fashionable

Lash Fary is most often considered the brainchild of the “swag bag” of free samples. According to an article in the Hollywood Reporter published on February 1, 2019, “Lash Fary basically invented awards show swag bags. The A-list L.A. gifting guru’s marketing firm Distinctive Assets launched in 1999 as a private showroom servicing costume designers of top television series and has since bloomed into a full-service entertainment marketing agency. Its tentacles span the industry’s wide swath of glitzy red carpets — the Tony Awards, the American Music Awards, the Kids’ Choice Awards, the BET Awards, The Country Music Awards, and the Grammy Awards.”

Mr. Fary has been dubbed the “sultan of swag” and now commands participation fees of upwards of $50,000 from companies to have their free sample placed in one of his swag “bags”. Twenty years later and the term swag bag is only a colloquialism as the size and number of free samples no longer fit in a “bag.” Free swag samples in 2022 may include, vacations, luxury suites, free plastic surgery along with a more traditional product selection that companies want to put into the hands of celebrities, influencers, and the elite.

Companies Want to Give FREE Samples

The marketing firms of clothing, jewelry, and cosmetic designers see free samples as a chance to have their product seen. Not just seen by anyone, but actually being worn or used by a celebrity, influencer, or the wealthy in public, in photos and splashed across media.

Pictures of an A-List celebrity wearing an introductory fashion design or commenting about a wine or liquor they received in their swag can launch it into a coveted product. One single photo across the media of the world is worth what would cost millions in commercial advertising. This is the reason that companies are willing to give out free samples and pay to have them placed in swag “bags.”

Swag for Everyone

In the age of social media, influence is local. It is not just celebrities and top influencers who can drive sales for a product. The concept of swag by the ad agencies of the last century have evolved thanks to the concept popularized by Lash Fary.

Gathr has taken the concept of the swag bag and made it available to the local influencer. The opt-in Members of Gathr willingly provide their demographic details in exchange for participation in the program. Established, startups and companies in incubation can test the waters by having their product included in a curated Gathr swag box. In exchange for the swag, the Gathr Members have agreed to provide reviews, answer surveys, and participate in marketing calls and webinars. Gathr can provide the companies who have their free samples placed in the Gathr swag boxes with precise metrics based on consumer response.