When I first came to New York, I went to a big corporate party and was amazed by the sponsorships: Johnny Walker provided the booze, a tobacco company provided the cigars, a Manhattan club provided refreshments and a venue, and a car dealership dropped off a few premium automobiles for the guests to drool over. In fact, pretty much the only thing that my company had to provide was a roomful of guests.
While the party was a lot of fun, and enabled me to try Johnny Walker Blue for the first time (by the way, save your money and buy a good single malt), I had to wonder about the wisdom of corporate sponsorship. The company that was running the event was almost invisible, obscured by the promotional material for all the liquor, food, and tobacco sponsors. In the end, I was left wondering if the free drinks and nicotine really made up for the fact that the guests of honor were overwhelmed by a sea of advertising.
Recently, corporate sponsorship of parties has extended into the private arena. Apparently, a variety of companies, from liquor distributors to restaurant owners, are now offering private citizens free party supplies, ranging from venues to food to drinks. In return, all the aforementioned private citizens have to do is pimp out their friends and allow the sponsors to plaster promotional materials all over the place.