<b>RNC coverage</b>: Gift bags offer promotional opportunities

The Republican National Convention is awash in black convention bags, filled with gift certificates, books, and elephant-shaped macaroni, thanks to the NYC Host Committee 2004.

The Republican National Convention is awash in black convention bags, filled with gift certificates, books, and elephant-shaped macaroni, thanks to the NYC Host Committee 2004.

Some benefactors likened their participation to a non-partisan goodwill gesture, while others are hoping for an additional promotional benefit.

New Balance paid the host committee $500,000 to brand the delegate and media bags, which are not actually New Balance-made bags.

"We donated to the host committee to create the bag and put our logo on," said Kristen Sullivan, a PR associate at New Balance.

Boston-based New Balance donated money to the Democratic host committee in Boston to help win the city the Democratic convention, as well as purchased the similar bag-branding service for that convention.

B&H Photo Video donated 22,000 disposable cameras to the convention delegates, and included a B&H catalogue in the gift bag, according to David Stern, marketing director of B&H Photo Video.

During the convention, delegates can also receive ten rolls of processing free if they use a traditional camera or 150 digital media prints if they use a digital camera.

B&H Video has a department dedicated to tourism, Stern said. "We partner up with gift bags, such as if an institution or a company comes to the Javits Center."

The 35,000-square-foot store, only one block from convention site Madison Square Garden, attracted 1.5 million visitors last year, Stern said, adding that one of the reasons for the giveaway was to attract delegates to check out the store.

Additionally, delegates can order products from the company's catalog or website when they return home.

The New York Sports Club is offering a free weekly pass to convention delegates.

"We're always looking for high-profile events to create awareness to NYSC and extend our outreach," said Susan Gerson, NYSC's director of PR.

The sports club also provided the same promotion to the Democratic convention, and worked directly with both host committees.

She said that the political process created a stressful environment.

"And going to the gym releases stress," Gerson.

The gym also has a voter-registration drive and politically themed classes, such as Voterobics, where participants can perform the "swapping parties" exercise by running back and forth to Republican and Democrat sides.

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