Seeds of Success

Staff Writer
Columbus CEO

Another facet of the placement business is “seeding,” where celebrities or tastemakers are sent goods in the hopes they’ll use a product and talk publicly about it. “People want to experience things that have somehow been associated with or tasted or touched by celebrities,” says Sugardaddy’s Sumptuous Sweeties co-founder and co-CEO Mark Ballard.

Ron Kaplan has put his “Surf Ohio” tees in the hands of celebs including the Beach Boys, Jan and Dean, Jodie Foster, Ron Howard, James Cameron and Arnold Schwarzenegger. Since relaunching Surf Ohio in 2008, Kaplan has seen his shirts on popular indie music acts such as the Black Keys—often without his doing. “People have told me I should do the gift-bag thing at the Oscars … but it’s costly, and I’d rather find actors who are from Ohio and know that they’re wearing the shirt. Maybe they turn up in People magazine, and maybe they don’t,” Kaplan says.

Westerville-based photographer Joy St. Claire sees celebrity gift bags as a worthwhile expense. In January, her work was included in swag bags in the Golden Globes Gift Lounge. St. Claire worked with Los Angeles-based Artisan Group and event planner GBK to get her calendars and fine-art prints in the lounge. “People can think your work is good, but if they see it with celebrities … it offers validation on another level,” she says.

St. Claire estimates she spent $600 to have her work available to the A-list invitees. “I just looked at it as a marketing expense,” she says. “Especially for photography, it can be difficult to find the right place to market yourself, and I thought this would be a really unique opportunity in a lot of ways.”

Reprinted from the March 2012 issue of Columbus C.E.O. Copyright © Columbus C.E.O.