According to mommy blog Upper West Nests, the hot new trend among affluent New York children is ‘sponsored’ birthday parties. Children as young as two are having their parties sponsored by the likes of Tyco, Nickelodeon, and even Ke$ha, depending upon their family’s connections.
Disney CEO Bob Iger was an early adopter of the trend, saying he came up with the idea when his daughter asked for an Aladdin-themed birthday. “I thought to myself, Aladdin’s an old movie, and Disney was just about to release Cars 2. Why not get some extra publicity for Cars 2?
The party featured an advance screening of the movie Cars 2, a life-sized version of character Lightning McQueen, and various product tie-ins, including a free set of Cars 2 Goodyear tires for every family in attendance. The party was a tremendous win for Disney and Iger, and it seemed as though the children enjoyed it as well.
May Hasselberger’s 3-year-old son Étienne’s birthday was sponsored by the Museum of Modern Art, where her brother-in-law works in the curatorial department. “Étienne is already developing an eye for art so I knew it was the perfect location,” she says. “He and his friends got an amazing tour of the collections not currently on view, and a rooftop mimosa brunch. The museum made twice its money back in donations, so it was a definite success.”
Hasselberger says sponsored parties do inspire some jealousy from other moms, but that’s not something she gives heed to.
CNN executive Mark Wittern got the network to sponsor his daughter Eva’s 5th birthday party through a partnership with one of their sponsors, Geico. Wittern says, “How many kindergartners get to have their birthday party hosted by Anderson Cooper AND a talking Gecko?”
Mommy blogger Lisbeth Anderson says parents looking to acquire sponsorship on a budget should look through their Rolodex for possible corporate connections or approach local business owners. “You never know if your neighbor works at Barneys or if your local antiques store is trying to gain some publicity.”