The CMT Music Awards in Nashville are bypassing celebrity gift bags in favor of bags that will tote food for hungry children. Given the state of the economy, handing out expensive gifts to well-off celebrities and artists seemed out of touch, CMT executives said. Instead, the show, which will air June 16, will donate $20,000 to the local affiliate of Feeding America, a CMT One Country partner. CMT One Country is CMT's pro-social initiative launched in 2005.
"The backstage swag bonanza seemed outdated, given the current [economic] situation," said Anthony Barton, VP-integrated marketing for CMT. "Watching someone who is a millionaire artist get another watch didn't seem to work."
With the donation, meals will be provided to 130 children during the 2009-2010 school year through the Second Harvest Food Bank of Middle Tennessee BackPack Program.
Sears, Roebuck & Co., a new sponsor of the CMT Music Awards, will provide Lands' End backpacks for the program. The backpacks are used to distribute food to children who rely on free or reduced-price school lunches when they are away from school on weekends or during school vacations.
"It's a dignified way of getting food into someone's hands," Mr. Barton said. "We're helping a population of kids that need it."
The Lands' End backpacks will also have a significant presence throughout the awards show. They will be featured on-site and backstage, where artists will be asked to autograph the backpacks for a CMT One Country auction. Funds from the auction will be funneled back into the program. The Carter Twins, an up-and-coming country-music act, will also walk the red carpet with the backpacks and explain the program during the preshow broadcast.
"There are a lot of opportunities to tie clients to deeper partnerships. Sears was no different," Mr. Barton said. "This is an organic way of featuring a new client but tapping into the sentiment of helping the community."