The Sunday Giveaway: My Tony Award Voter Swag!

Right before I submitted my official ballot for this year’s Tony Awards, I snapped a photo of all the swag I received from shows and posted it on my Instagram (yeah, in case you missed it, I’m on the ol’ Instagram – and postin’ lots of stuff re: shows, marketing and other producer perspectivey type stuff so follow me).

I got CDs and scripts and souvenir books and even a copy of the original graphic novel Fun Home.

And there were so many comments on my Facebook and Instagram posts of the photo that I thought . . . hey, now that I’m done with it, and cast my votes, why not give it all away to one of you?

So my swag is this week’s giveaway! Fun, right?

Here’s how you can win a super cool You Can’t Take it With You flip book and all the rest:

The type of swag I got this year is interesting . . . because for the past few years, Producers have been limited in what they could send to voters: a script, a CD and a souvenir book. That was about it. But this year, the Tony Administration Committee lifted the ban and said, “Send ’em BMWs for all we care. It don’t matter.”

And you know what was cool?

No one sent any BMWs.

Ok, that would have been cool for me, but it wouldn’t be cool if we started trying to buy votes, right?

But we could send other things . . . and I expect that in future years, Producers will. I could name one or two above-the-title guys that might spend a few hundred bucks per voter if they thought it would snag another vote or two.

Is that right? Should shows be allowed to send voters anything? Should they be banned from sending them anything? Or was the script/cd/souvenir book/reviews limitation a good one?

Tell me how you feel about swag going to voters in the comment section below and I’ll pick one of you to win all that good stuff!

Goooooood luck!


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  • MichaelC says:

    If the playing field is level (same gift guidelines for every show) I see no problem with swag. If the voters accept their responsibility to see each show and vote based on content and performance then the swag should only be viewed as a “reminder” to the voter of what they saw and (hopefully) enjoyed enough to support with their vote. I’m sure that some Tony votes are always cast based on personal, rather than professional, reasons (sentimental favorite, personal friend, etc.) however, it seems that being provided a show CD, needlepoint pillow, autographed Playbill or some other show related memento would seem an unlikely reason for a voter to be swayed.

  • Lauren says:

    To me, the question isn’t whether the swag should be allowed, it’s whether the voters can separate the gifts from the vote. Enjoy the bounty, feel special, let it remind you of what you thought of the show, and then cast it all aside and vote your true feelings. I think most voters can handle that. Besides, I can see many being turned off by glaring attempts to buy votes (spending a few hundred dollars per voter would be a pretty obvious show of desperation) so going way beyond what other shows are doing may actually backfire. If anything, it’s another opportunity for creativity over dollars, because the most ingenious gift of the year is likely to be talked about and appreciated in a way that could sway a tight race or on-the-fence voters.

  • Frank says:

    I say treat it like a “Secret Santa” – limit the amount of $$ per voter…then see how creative the producers can get!

  • I think the script/cd/souvenir book/reviews limitation is a good one. Because, honestly, there is no other way to look at it than trying to buy votes. If they really want to send these people gifts, send them “thank you” gifts for their hard work the day AFTER the Tony’s are awarded.

    I don’t like “gifts” (gifts in quotation marks because we all know that what they are is bribes) going to voters – whether they be political or theatrical.

    And there will always be the element of skepticism from people like me, who just returned from seeing “Finding Neverland” (playing to a full house) and wondering just why they were snubbed by The Tony’s. It probably didn’t have anything to do with swag – but … on the other hand …

  • Aaron Deitsch says:

    I like the idea of being able to send anything associated the with show that is already available to the public. Anything from the souvenir stand, online, etc. It kind of puts a limitation so that a producer cannot go too overboard, but it allows the producer to excite the voter by presenting the voter with the full show experience

  • Catherine Pierce says:

    Everyone loves to receive swag! I look at it as a sweet bonus!

  • Dara Ely says:

    Producers sending unique items to Tony voters encourages creativity and can remind voters about the heart and message of a show. If I were a voter, I’d appreciate getting some fun items in the mail to break the monotony of the script, CD, program deliveries.

    It sounds like no one took advantage of it this year so I think the program should remain this way until people start to spend too much. If gifts start to seem more like bribery, then it will have to be reined it, perhaps with a spending cap.

  • Rob Cote says:

    As much as I love swag, (like can’t get enough love it), the award isn’t about the coolest or best gift or how much money was spent on the gift. Ultimately the award should be about the show, actors, costumes, music, etc. Are the voters now voting for a show or for the swag?

  • Anthony Maready says:

    I look at this topic similarly as I do political campaign finance reform, because the distribution of show-related materials is very much a “campaign” for a desired outcome, more Tony votes.

    One could argue that productions that can afford more swag to send voters have a right to do so; perhaps even a responsibility considering they are working on behalf of investors. However, as with political contributions, especially in the era of the Supreme Court’s “Citizens United” ruling, a strong case for regulation can easily be made in light of the resulting out-of-control death spiral of unlimited contributions and, more importantly, increased influence, by a few individuals with the most money.

    Human nature lends itself to each producer wanting a successful Tony-enhanced run for their production. I see a near inevitability of swag with increasingly disparate values producing increasingly disparate influence on voters. Again, human nature wins out, even by many with good intentions for fairness.

    A quick example would be if there was an indisputably close race between two productions or actors that ended in a difference of one vote. Let’s say 500 of 501voters voted their personal opinion regardless of swag, but a single voter who would have voted for production A was able to sell his swag, not give it away, for a much needed $1,000 on ebay and therefore switched what would have been his closely decided vote from production A to that of B. B wins due to swag influence although almost all voters rejected said influence. An extreme example, yes. Bur possible. Ties have happened and close votes are expected sometimes.

    I argue regulation is best to keep all productions on some level of equality regarding this type of influence.

    P.S. Please momentarily forget what I just wrote, Ken. I really, really want the Tony swag you’re giving away. I want it bad. If there is anything I can offer or do for you to get you to pick me, I’ll gladly do so! Anything. Just let me know. 😉

  • Aaron Settle says:

    I think opening it up to a wide variety of things is a great idea. Yes, you do run the risk of people trying to buy votes, but that comes down to personal integrity. What I like is it opens up the door for very creative marketing. You can send scripts or you can send fun promotional items that make you stand out from the crowd. I for one love the wacky promotional items

  • Amy says:

    I support it. I spent several years working as a freelance entertainment journalist, and I was absolutely swayed to pay closer attention to some things based on items I had around my house… screeners and posters were okay, but I would spend more time thinking about a certain series if I had received a candle or a robe for it. It didn’t make me praise the work, but I did pay more attention to it!

  • Janna says:

    show specific goodies & marketing materials (CDs, DVDs, programs…) are easy, helpful reminders AND fun to receive during any awards season!

  • Like our politics today the problem is not the money but the secrecy. Reveal the swag so all knows who is giving what to whom and intelligent decisions can be made. I openly declare I would enjoy receiving the swag myself, as long as everyone knows!

  • Anthony Porter says:

    As long as there is a limit to the amount of money spent on the swag, I see no problem with it. Most voters will vote their conscience anyway (I hope!) and not be swayed by a cd or graphic novel.

  • R.J. Lowe says:

    Honestly, it should just be limited to tickets to a performance, a souvenir program, a cast recording, and maybe one other little item already being sold at the souvenir stand (a magnet, a T-Shirt, a mug?) and that’s about it. Just little reminders to keep the show fresh in the voter’s mind. Anything more than that reeks of bribery and desperation and just isn’t (or shouldn’t be) needed! Also, I think somehow a system should be put into place that make a voter have to PROVE they’ve seen every show in a category to be allowed to vote in said category. I’m just not sure how to make that happen. LOL!

  • Theo Chen says:

    I think it’s a really strange issue, and one that isn’t easy to define whether it’s right or wrong. On one hand, if some shows want to make sure voters see their show in a certain light, or want more background knowledge to the show (a la Fun Home), then sure why not! It’s rather helpful actually. But, it would also happen to be seen as buying votes, which could mean that the big giant producers, with giant shows, and lots of money, could send lots of swag to voters, and potentially sway quite a few of them! But then again, do people actually care THAT much about Tony swag, I guess it’s based on what it is!

    It all comes down to how Tony voters vote, which is really a whole other very interesting thing to dive into.

    PS: Thanks for the blog, I’m a 14 year old from Singapore, and I avidly read it to get as much of Broadway as possible, and I’m never disappointed.

    PPS: Thank you for helping to bring The Visit to Broadway, and for a cast recording, I’m so excited!!

  • Jared W says:

    I’m in favor of the CD/script/souvenir booklet limit. The Tony Awards should be about the quality of the writing and the performances, not who sent you the coolest toy or piece of merchandise. If the swag starts swaying votes, then you are essentially trying to buy votes and that is not something the industry should be encouraging.

    I can see the lifted ban going in one of two ways. The first is that it does little to sway voters, who are all industry insiders and therefore less likely to be impressed with show marketing materials, especially when they receive so many. In this case, the swag is a waste of money and resources that could be better spent on keeping the show running or marketing to the public, who ultimately are the ones that decides how long a show runs. (As the “Something Rotten” ad brilliantly illustrated, the Best Musical Tony is not the end-all be-all when it comes to a show’s success.) The second outcome is that the swag does sway votes, which will give the productions with deep pocketbooks an unfair advantage and make it harder for a modestly budgeted show like “Fun Home” or “A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder” to win the big awards they need to keep running.

    In either outcome, I feel like the negatives outweigh the positives and take the focus away from where it should be, which is the actual quality of the show audiences are experiencing nightly. Also, for every voter who likes the swag there could well be someone like previous Producer’s Podcast guest Scott Schwartz who actively dislikes all the clutter caused by Tony swag and could end up holding an extravagant gift against a particular production.

  • Alexa Bishop says:

    I think there should be a strict list of what is allowed and what isn’t. Let people get creative, but producers shouldn’t have to send swag or feel pressured to. It should be a simple fun thing to get to know a show better.

  • I like to think people will always vote based on merit, but a BMW might sway me. So, there should be a way to let producers send fun things without it getting out of hand. Creative gifts might make you go and listen to that CD one more time or revisit the book to make sure you love it. Bottom line, though, Tony voters should be honorable in their votes and swag shouldn’t sway them. Might be naive, but I like that world better than the one where votes could be bought.

  • Stephen says:

    There should be some limits, but I don’t see a problem with allowing more variety than the old rules permitted. As others have mentioned, any item sold at the theater seems like a reasonable thing to allow, perhaps combined with a spending limit (although i worry about the difficulty of enforcing that).

  • Alex Bernstein says:

    Limit it to what you need to remember the show – Script, CD, program. If you can’t remember much from that, then the show probably wasn’t worth voting for.

  • Kevin Dwyer says:

    It’s definitely a difficult question. Just like there are some regulations on what lobbyists can spend and gift to politicians in order to swing votes, there should be some regulation and oversight here. But too much regulation takes the fun out of it! I would say that if getting a big gift or piece of swag from a certain show is enough to sway a Tony voters’ choice, then we need different voters! As long as the gift comes regardless of how the voter decides, it should be fair game.

  • April C says:

    This is definitely one of those gray-areas where it’s hard to clearly define and prevent abuse of the system, but, as the Supreme Court so famously put it regarding pornography, you just know it when you see it! There definitely needs to be some degree of regulation to prevent things getting completely out of hand (as they have a tendency to do when human nature is involved), but to put too strict measures in place would lessen the possibility of cleverness and creativity where swag is involved. I think that marketing should always be a game of creativity and in that vein, producers should send something interesting to voters to remind them of their show. Therefore, rather than specifying exactly what items can be sent to voters, I find myself leaning toward a spending/value limit for swag sent by each production. I also suggest a transparent system in which all swag sent to voters is made public knowledge (at least among the Tony community) to help ensure compliance with these spending limits.

  • This is my second post on this thread – so please forgive my excess use of bandwidth!
    This year I saw almost every play nominated – and, if I were a voting member I would certainly have seen each and every one of them.
    Now, I can tell you – without receiving so much as a playbill in the mail, the pro’s and con’s of each play, the particulars of tech (sets, costumes, lighting, special effects, etc.), visible or not director’s hand, and the power of the actor’s performances. I take back the statement about the playbill – I might need reminding of certain names of actors, technicians, authors, etc.
    If we can’t depend on the voters being able to remember the plays they’ve seen in the past 12 months, of what earthly use are they as a reliable voting block?
    And, as far as receiving stuff in the mail. Sure, it’s fun – but, let’s face it – mostly it’s junk. And if it’s NOT junk, then it’s questionable as a token gift. Like in the judicial system, it’s not so much the proof of wrong-doing, but just the appearance of wrong doing that is bad.
    As I said in the first post I made, if producers really want to send the voters a gift, send it AFTER the Tony’s have been awarded as a ‘thank you’ for the hard work they’ve put in.

  • Ashlyn Smith says:

    As someone who had the chance to look at some of the Tony swag, the CD/Booklet combo got a little old. I’m not saying that sending something grandiose is good, but I enjoyed seeing the flip book of the You Can’t Take it With You Set, sketches from An American in Paris, or the script from of the big winners (not sure if it official it is being published). They aren’t crazy or expensive items, but ones that didn’t necessarily fit into the standard mold and caused us to pause and look at the item rather than throw it in the stack with the rest.

  • Brett Keith says:

    Swag is fine but send a ticket voucher to make sure they see the show! If not used, little cash lost.

  • Lawrence Starr says:

    Let them send whatever they want; so long as the voting itself remains secret, people will vote for whom they want based on the same criteria they use in any other circumstance. Which shows they liked; who was long overdue for a Tony; which shows will travel well, etc etc. It won’t take the producers long to figure out that sending BMWs (I prefer Audi’s!) makes no difference in whether they will win or not. The voters will accept the swag, keep what they want, get rid of the rest, and still vote however they were going to vote anyway! Buying votes works in politics and other venues where there is a continuing relationship possible. But for Tony, it’s vote and done! Someone else for some other show will try again the nest year.

  • Tom L says:

    Since we live in a society that says money is speech, I guess we shouldn’t be surprised if producers try to buy votes. Do I like it? Of course not, but that’s why I go see SHOWS, and avoid show BUSINESS.

  • Mary M. says:

    Anything show related is fine.

    While lead producers are trying to garner votes, they also have a financial responsibility to their investors, so hopefully that will offset any extravagant gestures.

    And still allow for some creativity 🙂

  • The script/cd/souvenir book/reviews limitation was a good one BUT EVERYONE LOVES TO BE SURPRISED. “Unexpected swag” is a great way to make voters stop dead in their tracks and RE-CONSIDER who to vote for. Whether they will or not, is never a given unless you have a wall of money behind your swag.

    Less than a decade ago, the Disney Corporation had a questionable, lackluster product that carried an unimaginable asset with it. Disney execs saw the extreme necessity to allegedly buy votes and they quietly spent more money than has ever been spent on a single motion picture and it paid off in spades.

    Swag going to voters is always good, but voters sending the swag to me is GREAT.

  • Arnold Kuperstein says:

    You should not be able to buy a Tony Award. Nice that this year the deserving winners won. Current restrictions should remain in place. Sorry Harvey.

  • Brian P says:

    Hope your price is higher than swag!

  • Robert says:

    Swag should continue so that voters can donate it all to tables at the Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS Flea Market.

  • Karl P says:

    They should not allow gifts over $50.00, and if they do, have an asterisk after the title in the records, to designate the voting as possibly tainted!

  • Candace says:

    I think scripts and books are fine. They are a good reminder of the content of the play. Anything else is unneccessary and degrading to the spirit of the awards.

  • Emily Lang says:

    I don’t think it’s right to make it a free-for-all and say it doesn’t matter, because it does. Perhaps it doesn’t the first few times–but eventually it will. I think loosening up the guidelines a bit from the script-CD-souvenir book is fine, but I think that there should be set guidelines as to what shows can send voters or, maybe, how much items sent to voters can be worth. I’m all for getting Tony swag, but there should be some kind of regulation!

  • Lisa says:

    I Love SWAG. It is so much fun, but getting it these days is getting harder and harder.
    To answer your question, the Tonys is all a big commercial. Until a few years ago, they only featured the top musicals. Neverland would have never received airtime. But the producers I’m sure worked hard to get airtime to boost their ticket sales. It seems like the winning shows are producer’s favorites, ones that will bank ticket money. If sales don’t move after the Tonys, they close. I also find it interesting, that The Public Theatre shows are always up on top. My guess is Hamilton will be the big winner next year with all the hype. So is SWAG necessary. NO. They already know who they want to bring in the dollars. Is SWAG fun, sure. It makes people happy. I say go for it. Only because I don’t think it makes a difference. If this does sway people, then there should be a maximum dollar amount. So a smaller production can’t be bought out by Disney or whoever.

  • Paul Lewison says:

    I’ve got to feel that scripts, photos, CD’s, and any other of material that can be of value to a voter in understanding and evaluating a show should be unlimited. I do, however, do believe that other gifts should be controlled. The easiest way to do that is to simply put a dollar limit on what any show can give to any voter. I’m not wise enough to pick a number for that, so why don’t you take a crack at it.


  • Shira Dickler says:

    The Tony awards have a huge impact on the success of productions, so it makes sense that people may want to invest in cooler and more convincing swag to win the hearts of the voters.

    I think that the swag no longer becomes reasonable when it in no way contributes to the voter’s understanding/appeal/impression of the show. Aka, material should all be related to the show content/production process and help the voter get the gist of what the production is about. The materials can still totally be fun and cool (like a flip book or the original book that the show is based on). That stuff sounds awesome.

  • Joe says:

    I think it is an inevitability that swag will continue to flow to Tony voters. There is moral outrage at buying votes, but, lets be serious, Harvey Weinstein didn’t become Harvey Weinstein until he started being Harvey Weinstein. (The following sentence was brought to you by Gertrude Stein… stein.) I would like to think that voters could separate gifts from quality, but I have triplets that will beg for a Happy Meal because of the toy.
    Keeping it creative is only half the battle: the other half should be corporate-backed items: CROCS and NIKE gifted yellow shoes from the VISIT. PETER PAN Busline tickets and Peter Pan Peanut Butter presents…. well, you know. I say, go full bore.

  • Bess Donoghue says:

    I think what it all comes down is what your voting on. Your trying to determine what is the best production, and sometimes having the addition of the script or CD helps for clarification purposes. I think lifting from that restriction poses problems. Not all the shows have the same budget, and it distracts voters from concentrating on what really matters most. Perhaps in addition to allowing the script, CD, and booklet, shows could be allowed to send one more item, but it has to be under a certain budget?

    I would also hope that producers feel gratified for votes based on the content of their work as opposed to the free swag that is sent to sway voters. Shows should strive to make the voting process easier and informational by sending the swag, but not necessarily attempt to persuade.

    This is all likely too optimistic for the reality of the situation, but I think a restriction should still be set in place. I can imagine it would actually happen but, but what if a show actually won because someone set BMW’s? As a result, I think the Tony’s could lose some credibility, and that’s the last thing you want to have happen. The Tony Awards are such a great and special night, let’s keep them that way.

  • ECP says:

    Stress transparency, and perhaps set a fair market value max. I suspect the media would pounce on any unusually expensive swag bag, which might be interpreted as a “buy” for votes. Since not all shows are created equal, not each show is positioned to offer the same “gift” items. Maybe some type of recognition for the most creative/relevant swag bag each season?

  • Jacob says:

    I think that producers should be allowed to send anything to the Tony voters, at the very least a souvenir program, a copy of the script, and a copy of the cast recording. If the producers wish to send anything else, they should be conscious of what could be considered “too much” or overdoing it. But if they wish to sell their show that way and promote it, then by all means they should do so. There shouldn’t be a limit per se, but every show should be required (I think) to submit the minimum three things I listed above). It would be interesting for scenic and costume designers to include copies or photos of their renderings, scenic models, research, etc. As someone who is into design aspects of a show, I think that would be interesting to include if it has not been done so already.

    Thanks for the opportunity! Crossing my fingers! 😀

  • Jon says:

    Swag should be limited to shareable foods. You know, the christmas kind you leave out for the rest of the staff… You do leave it out for the rest of the staff don’t you Ken? KEN? Mr Davenport we are talking to you…..

  • Stephanie says:

    I think there should be a limit to what can be sent to Tony voters, but I think it can be extended to the show’s existing merchandise line. There’s not really any harm in sending the voting body some t-shirts or whatnot, but what with the struggle that many original shows have being commercially successful on Broadway, there should at least be some sort of cap/restriction as to what producers can send to Tony voters (perhaps a spending cap or a total value cap to the swag) so that the smaller shows that don’t have the commercial budget (yet) can be just as competitive in the awards landscape. After all, they tend to be the ones that need the marketing help. Not that Tony voters would necessarily be swayed by materialistic reasons, but the closer the playing field when it comes to the perks coming from these shows, the more likely each show will be judged on merit rather than external factors.

    Shows with extremely large budgets and producers with tons of power don’t quite need the awards boost; for instance, I’m sure Harvey Weinstein could afford to send some pretty substantial stuff to the Tony awards voters, but Finding Neverland clearly didn’t need the help from the Tony awards to become a commercial success anyways.

    • Level the playing field? People love swag and you can debate how-to-do-it forever. It’s a nice thought, but It will never happen.

      Less than a decade ago, the Disney Corporation allegedly had to distribute a questionable, lackluster feature film named WALL-E that had an unimaginable TENS OF BILLIONS OF DOLLAR ASSET (a new distribution deal with Pixar) attached to it.
      Disney execs saw the extreme necessity to allegedly “buy votes” and they quietly spent more money than has ever been spent on any single motion picture advertising campaign in history and it paid off in spades. No one knows for certain how much was spent but it appears it was high north of at least $50 million and it could have been more than double or triple that amount. When there is a lot at stake, all you have to do is think outside the box.

      To be sure, you can’t really “buy” votes. You can offer to pay all the hundreds of your reviewer’s expenses if they do something like come to view your film in an exotic vacation area and if they can’t come you can offer to pay for their entire family to come with them. You can then offer your reviewers a chance to win a new car of their choice (maybe even a BMW?) if they submit the review they will publish in a contest held in advance of publication. You will then select the best written reviews and the WINNERS will all WIN new automobiles-every one of them. This is similar to the way our congressmen and senators accept campaign donations and then vote to pass fast-track legislation that will push through a corporate trade agreement we are not allowed to read while the new bill ships jobs overseas and overturns environmental, consumer and financial regulations via secret corporate tribunals that strip away any assistance to displaced workers. Until we change things, big money rules our country.

      Swag going to voters is always good, but voters sending the swag to me is GREAT.

  • Megan S says:

    I think there should be no restriction as to what they can send, but to make it an even playing field, they have to stick to a certain budget.

  • I love getting swag. I was an advertising copywriter and we had swag up to our eyeballs. Worked on Exxon Arts, Kenner Toys, McDs( Happy Meals!!!!) ABC and more. But the true SWAG is the show itself. If we don’t leave a theatre with a bag filled with wonderful memories about the show we experienced, there’s no point. Sure be creative with SWAG, but use it to to enhance what appears on the stage. That’s where the magic should be. I say SWAG should be creatively limited. A little SWAG can go a long way when the show is worth one’s while.

  • I feel it is possible for someone to gift and obtain votes by doing so. If you haven’t heard the new thing trying to get going in the L. A. theatre scene is to now pay reviewers to come see your show and write a review because so many periodicals are no longer reviewing, or reviewing far fewer shows it is becoming more and more difficult to get press for your show, so if it continues producers will be buying reviews so it basically assures them of good reviews even if the show doesn’t merit it. In my opinion art is should only be allowed to be bought if it is for your collection, and not to fix the market / contest.

  • Daniel Rich says:

    As someone who has gotten swag many times as part of the Annie Award voting, I don’t see anything wrong with it. In my case at least, it has never influence my voting, it usually just gets a response of “oh wow, what a great idea” or “couldn’t they have hired some better marketing people?”. I only see a problem with it if is starts to get abused — say if a show gives you that BMW you were looking for this year.

  • Iris says:

    I agree with what Frank said above. Limit the amount of money that can be put into the gifts and let producers be creative. I think it’s fair enough to send voters cast recordings and programs, and other low-cost creative things to do with the show, but it shouldn’t turn into buying votes and for one thing, and producers also shouldn’t waste paper or other natural resources for futile attempts to win votes (and also money that could be better spend for other things).
    Resourcefulness and creativity are usually worth more than 100s or 1000s of dollars.

  • Sarah P. says:

    I think I’m pro-swag, and in favor of less limits – hopefully it allows shows to get creative and come up with more interesting, memorable (not necessarily expensive or elaborate) items that really make their show stand out! 🙂

  • I don’t think swag influences voting. You’re not going to vote for a show because you liked a t-shirt you got! I think a money limit imposed on shows would be a good idea. That way they can get creative without it verging on bribery.

  • Michael Riha says:

    As long as everyone plays by the same rules (IE: budget) it should be fine. I think some guidelines should be set. We all seem to agree that the money spent on political campaigns is beyond absurd – there’s no reason why Broadway should stoop to that level!

  • Evan says:

    I’m definitely pro-swag and don’t think there should be a limit on what can be sent. I’ve seen shows be really creative with the promotional items they have created. The movie industry does it and there’s no reason why the Broadway industry shouldn’t. Hope I win!

  • Elena says:

    Lifted the ban means that the Tonys Committee trusts their photos to be impartial even with Swag involved.
    I think the CD/Script/Souvenir Booklet is a great idea because it’s a refresher for the voters, and usually I wouldn’t support Organizations giving anything else away to voters, but this makes a statement. I like the TRUST that it instates in Tony Voters – that no matter what you are sent, the Committee still expects impartiality.

    And the fact that you’re giving it away, makes me think their trust was rightly placed.

  • Emily says:

    One would hope that people would vote on merit alone but we know that that definitely is not the case – with objectivity not existing in the theatre (does it really exist anywhere else?). Thus sending certain ‘swag’ is fine in my opinion so long as it could aid the voter and his/her theatrical experience – such as the script, cd, even the fun home original book. However sending reviews/souvenir books for me is more problematic. We are know that many ‘badly reviewed’ shows win Tony’s as do many ‘well-reviewed’ ones. Despite ticket sales being influenced (how much longer with the NYT review actually be influential?) hopefully ticket sales does not equal a Tony. We saw that with for example Finding Neverland not winning (or being nominated). What we do know is that a Tony equals ticket sales.
    To conclude – send all you want if it will ‘help’ the voter’s experience and understanding of the show, but noone likes a show off with money. Producers should use the money instead and keep the show open another week.

  • Allison DeLuca says:

    I think that swag is a great way to remind the voter about why the show was so special. Creative swag items don’t necessarily have to cost a fortune but they may help their show. And let’s face it, politicians spent a ton of money on getting votes, so why can’t producers do the same? However, in the long run, a voter will most likely choose what THEY enjoyed most, as opposed to who spent the most money trying to get their vote.

  • Elizabeth Ruddell says:

    I think that they should be limited as to an amount that they can spend on an item.

  • Benjamin says:

    I love it! I think the more creative, the better, and it allows the voters to dig deeper into the material than just his or her experience in the theater!

  • Dominic Sheahan-Stahl says:

    You know how the SAG awards post ads in many papers saying “For Your Consideration” I feel swag helps to say the same thing. Knowing even to perform a number on the Tonys you have to pay for that spot. A limitation on the amount that can be spent is in need to level the playing field. Not all shows on Broadway have Big Producers, Big names or in some cases an audience. But in light of today, equality for all (even Broadway shows) are necessary.

  • Anne says:

    I think voting should be genuine, not influenced or campaigned for.

  • Myra says:

    Any kind of swag should be allowed, the voters should vote based on artistic and technical merit!

  • Nathan Clift says:

    I think they should send the cast album, script, playbill, programs, and anything that relates to the awards. That way, after the curtain falls, you can revisit everything and compare them all at once. It’s not a bribe, but an opportunity to have them remember the show. That’s the theatre geek and production staff me talking. A tee shirt from the show you saw would be extra cool, cause then you can be like “yes, yes I did see that Tony award winning show”

  • Chris Dougherty says:

    If anything I feel that the cd, reviews and souvenir book are enough. The Tony’s is about the artistic aspect of it all. The originality and creativity of a work and not about the coolest swag it can give to its voters. As an avid theater goer I do feel I learn more and more about a show the more I listen to the cd. There is always something I did not notice that the author of the book or lyricist did that I did not catch during performance. Each time I see any show or listen to the cd I learn something new and it becomes a whole new show. I will admit there were points even during this years shows that I did not catch everything. So many jokes in Something Rotten and also so many plot points during An American in Paris I must admit I missed out on due to the dance heaviness of the show. If anything the one bit of swag that should be added is a DVD of the show itself since many times one viewing is not enough for a voter to make a decision especially after some of the days they have. After working profusely all day I doubt some are in the mood to rate a play for an award and some plays may suffer from this. On the other hand there is nothing like live theater. To sum up, yes the cd and books and reviews and souvenir books are totally sufficient to make a decision along with seeing the actual play itself. Many good contenders did not even get a fair shot this year. Hopefully it will stay this way and Tony voters will not try to be bought through gifts since everyone in this business is in it for the magic and art of theater and not what it can give u

  • Sue Cohen says:

    A pair of tickets should be enough! I’d be happy with that.

  • Philip Vonada says:

    I don’t see anything wrong with “swag.” Are you really going to be swayed to vote for a show because i sent you a keychain? A bottle opener? What show up for a Tony can truly afford to actually “buy” votes for the number of Tony voters there are? As long as producers remain responsible with what they send, and it doesn’t become a swag war – why not? Or maybe set a max limit (i.e. not more than $50 per voter), to keep things even. Though I agree with the people who say a souvenir book, CD, etc. should be enough, it’s also nice to have something a little extra that specifically reminds people of a moment in the show.

  • Jeremy Terry says:

    I definitely think it should be restricted. T shirts or CDs are fine, but anything sent should be with the intention of informing the voter about the show, not trying to buy a vote.

  • Heather Chamberland says:

    I feel that swag should be given to an extent. Practical things, like cast recordings to keep the songs fresh in voters’ minds. But maybe not things like signed scripts. I certainly don’t feel that money should be given in swag bags, as that’s more a bribe in my opinion. But everyone likes to get a little something, so why not make it memorable?

  • karen c. says:

    I think fruitcakes are the answer. Fruitcakes have long been known as the ultimate holiday gift…but why should it stop there? Fruitcake swag! Picture this:… a bright yellow fruitcake with “Fun Home” spelled out in colorful fake fruit ..or a small Hook toy that you find by taking a bit bite of your fruitcake (see what I did there?) .. maybe even a moldy fruitcake – one that’s maybe, um, rotten? Would you take notice? I would. Would it stand out? Certainly. Would it sway my vote? Anything’s possible.

  • Miguel P. says:

    I believe that giving away things should be alowed, but under certain guidlines. CD’s, scripts and souvenir books is not enough, but maybe BMWs are just way out of line. They should give more freedom to what voters can receive, but always within the rules. Maybe putting a price limit would be a good idea.

  • Karmela says:

    From a fan perspective: I’m all about the swag. I don’t think I’d ever be in a position to vote for the Tony’s, but I also don’t think “extra swag” would ever sway a decision. Maybe I’m naive to believe people voting care about the integrity of the art form, but I do think that’s what will end up happening. No amount of swag will change what a person thinks of a stage piece imo, so let the swag fly. It won’t speak for the piece itself anyway.



  • Max S says:

    I like the old rule of scripts, CDs and Programs. Kept the playing field totally level

  • John C. Luzaich says:

    Voters in the business are smart and they’re going to vote for the best talent in each category. We all have differing opinions on what that talent is, but for the most part, swag isn’t going to greatly influence a vote for someone that doesn’t deserve it. I believe most people in the business have higher/greater integrity than that.

  • James says:

    A show is greater than just the parts that appear before an audience. Swag is a means by which those behind the scenes can show their creativity because they are creating as memorable an impression as the show itself does. Spending lots of money isn’t creative and we’ve seen enough big budget flops to prove it. I may never get to stand center stage, but just maybe someday I could create something that makes someone take a closer look at the people who are. Swag is art. Theatre is a gift. And you can find love in every piece of the process.

  • Barbara S says:

    S- Stuff
    W- Wannabes
    A- Auspiciously
    G- Generate

    I say limit the swag and level the playing field. Producers shouldn’t ever be able to try to influence the Tony vote with money.

  • Adolfo Busó says:

    I belive shows be allowed to send voters anything RELATED to the production. For example; I remember the song that AVENUE Q sent to Tony Voters (Rod’s Dilemma) asking them to vote their hearts. It wasn’t a bribe; I thought it was a great gesture to tell the voters about the spirit of the show. The little show that could care a lot about the voters and wanted to show it. A good voter should be able to separate those gifts from the actual content of the show. A script and CD are very important to judge certain categories, but for other there should be the actual theater experience and experimenting the live performance. I would even love if producers send DVDs of the productions! I am an Advertising and Theater student and I would love to learn more about those campaings; what were sent to voters.

  • Donna Edquist says:

    I personally love the swag. It’s fun, and affords the opportunity to show off some originality and creativity from the marketing team. That being said, of course would I expect that the Tony voters while amused and entertained are not swayed from voting for the most deserving candidate.

  • Judy gentile says:

    As to swag or not to swag…I say Swag away because the industry is just one BIG advertisement anyway – no harm, no foul. Everyone does it n that makes it OK
    n I hope that it would not cause someone to choose one over a better one – it wouldn’t for me. That’s part of the SHOW n what’s a bit of fun among friends!

  • Alyssa C. says:

    Tony voters are bound to have friends in the business up for nominations and awards. It’s ridiculous to think that there is no influence with or without an expensive swag bag. If producers and others want to send gifts they should. Let’s face it, isn’t all award shows a popularity contest anyway? So does a swag bag really influence the way Tony voters will vote?

  • Glenn Heath says:

    I think the idea of SWAG in it’s simplest form is fine. There will always be those that will try to sway voters and voters whose integrity can be bought. There was a reason the ban was put in place to begin with, but hopefully its removal will not cause a huge swing in the “BMW” direction.

    I love the term equity and perhaps in the long run, SWAG-Gate will bear out to be just that; something equal and fair for all parties. Being on the outside looking in, I’m jealous of a simple keychain.

  • Lori says:

    Love me some swag.

  • I’m in favor of lifting the ban on gifting anything beyond CDs/libretti/souvenir books, especially as it seems no one abused it this year.

    However, I believe some kind of limitations, not just to keep the playing field more or less level across productions with wildly varying marketing budgets, but also to make sure that everyone keeps in the spirit of what the TONY’s are supposed to represent — let’s not let this start to look like Oscar swag bags!

    So, I suggest a (liberal) cap on what producers can spend per voter, which can be fairly high, because it should be accompanied with a provision that whatever gifts are sent, need to be directly in the service of promoting that specific show — i.e., it has to be “related” to some aspect of the production, or themes addressed in the production.

    This way, we leave room for producers to get creative (which really is the whole point of our industry, no?), promote their work, and help remind voters of the experience, but don’t risk any BMW’s or ridiculous items that are nothing more than attempts to buy votes.

  • Jose says:

    Voters should be all Shania about the swag and say “that don’t impress me much”. Although the scripts and recordings help vote for Best Book and Score.

  • Robert Rubin says:

    As far as all the stuff that you received before the Tony awards, this is all publicity material to remind you that the show has been nominated for an award. I prefer to think that the Tony voters are not voting for the show with the best stuff, but for the show they think was the best in that particular category. It might be nice to save a few of the more important items.

  • Madison says:

    I believe it is okay, stars campaign for their Tonys all time time. The swag is a great reminder of the season’s nominees but should not be a basis for vote.

  • Lynne says:

    As much as I want to say, yes! All the swag! I think guidelines are helpful because while we don’t want to think people are swayed by the stuff – I just don’t think it’s realistic.

  • Ilene Argento says:

    is it swag or is it materials to enhance your theatrical experience? Sadly for you, Ken, I don’t think the BMW ‘gift’ should be in a swag list, but I see no problem with programs, CDS of the show and background material (such as the book for, say, ‘Somewhere In Time,’ to read post performance. I say ‘post’ because, unless the show has some historical significance that requires the viewer to have an understanding of the events in order to get more out of the production (like knowing who Alexander Hamilton is before seeing Hamilton, or knowing that America was at war with Japan before seeing Allegiance), to get any of this stuff PRE ruins the surprise element of seeing a new show for the first time.

    All that said … I will trade you all the crap I’ve been collecting in MY closet, if you give me yours!

  • Josh Quinn says:

    I don’t think the limit is inappropriate, but in our industry, lifting the limit is probably fine for the most part. It sounds a lot like limits from candidate cities to Olympic officials, but those are necessary because of a history of corruption and literally billions of dollars at stake. I’m not sure that sending out a small gift that says, “Hey, this show!” is a bad idea. It’s great marketing, the votes have likely seen the shows anyway, and it’s fun!

  • Ellen Orchid says:

    I think the swag should be limited – so that votes are given based on merit, not repayment for swag. No TONY voter should be “bought”. This is similar to the situations that physicians face when pharmaceutical reps come around with gifts. There are new government regulations limiting the dollar amount of meals, and now prohibiting certain gifts. There was a time when MD’s might get Broadway tickets and baseball tix as well as the meals, pens and mugs with the names of the medication. Surgeons and orthopedists might even get more fabulous things like trips because they purchased high-end equipment from these guys. All things considered, it’s important to keep ethical standards in our profession. Keep focused on the work. And the work out there now is splendid. I recently saw “Something Rotten” and “The Curious Incident…etc.” Amazing work by everyone. The competition is keen, and it drives the quality ever higher- as it should. Merit-based, not swag-bought.

  • Amanda de Souza says:

    I applaud it. “Swag” is nothing new in the entertainment industry. Most importantly, it is a fabulous representation of not only the show, but the marketing, press, advertising, branding, collaboration with writers, composers, company, cast, producers and work that goes into making any nominated show a success, and that should be celebrated, enjoyed and shared for the precious moment in time that in can be. I think these items are fun, (no one really is the budget to send voters new watches anyway) and if you are a voter, a true lover of theatre, you also have a true appreciation for the shows and your vote surely isn’t swayed by swag. Swag on!

  • Elise Kaplan says:

    While “buying votes” is nothing new, obvious inequities in promotional item distribution is akin to “brainwashing”. The free swag clouds the perception of the voter in regard to who should win. It distorts the idea of a level playing field and can only make the loser who didn’t play the buy votes game shake their head in disgust.

  • I’ll keep it short: if producers like you give the swag away to awesome people like me then YES send all the swag! Ha ha but seriously, there should be a monetary limit on what can be sent (ie: no BMW’s) although that would be pretty sweet for you. Buying votes is never cool but showing appreciation and pride for a show by giving out awesome swag is a win to me!!

  • Cheryl Duch says:

    Swag is just for fun. Could a Playbill or CD really sway your vote?

  • Fran Clairmont says:

    Most people won’t be swayed by SWAG, but it does have its purpose. SWAG bags can find their way to charities and end up on ebay. I have bought several Tony, Emmy, and Oscar Swag Bag items with the proceeds going to charities. With the lack of funding in schools for the Arts, more and more after school Arts programs are popping up, and with a donation of a SWAG bag from one of the prestigious events, a Youth Theatre could make $1,000 – $15,000 or more.

    So if you Tony Voters could find a youth theatre to donate your swag bags – then you could be a here twice – once for your Tony vote and once for donating to a youth theatre. The more clever and unusual the items the more money for Youth Theatre!!!! It could work.

  • Leigh Gibson says:

    I see nothing wrong with swag. Let’s be honest, would you not vote for a production if they didn’t send you something? Swag is just a nice reminder to keep shows top of mind. Shows don’t win Tonys based on swag.

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