There are a number of companies that do this but the real test is what they`re offering. Unfortunately, there is really no way to "research" the companies, but they often list other companies that have been involved, so why not reach out to them for a reference?
What is the gift bag for? Is it the Academy Awards, GRAMMYs, etc. where your product will receive exposure to celebrities, or is it industry-specific? First consider what the audience of your product is and then determine if you`re going to reach them through this program. Then set some guidelines for your involvement. They will say they`ll achieve press, but anyone in PR knows that getting press is typically determined by the major stories of the day. So be sure that they send you a list of media they`re planning to send to, and don`t be afraid to ask for updates, after all you`re paying a lot of money. Finally, I recommend asking them to take photos of the gift bag display with your product so you can use it for marketing purposes. I`ve sent out a seperate company release about my client`s involvement in the past to build more attention. We`ve even sent out product to various entertainment journalists to boost interest.
Also, gift bags are under new constraints now that celebrities are being charged taxes because the "gift" is perceived as income, so it can be difficult to "make sure" bags are picked up. However, I`ve had great success with smaller events or gifting suites tied in with another company. This might be a great option for you to start with. I have one client who was in the Academy Awards gift bag last year and received enough exposure to more than pay the thousands to be involved - and they`re a small business. But they are a clothing company, so one shot of a celeb wearing their line and they`re golden. It really depends on your product. You really have to weigh it and then determine whether it`s worth it to take the chance as a small business.
I hope this helps. If you have more questions, feel free to send me an email.
Honestly, for THAT event, I think that`s a bargain. Have you ever been to Sundance and Park City? The stars go nuts over freebies and Sundance is very into "natural" and "organic". I guess it just depends on WHERE those 200 bags will be handed out? A-list or Z-list stars?
The bottom line is you need to determine whether the exposure is worth the price and if you truly believe that sales will be generated to reimburse you over time. However, I agree. Sundance is a great opportunity.
Feel free to email me if you want to talk through this more.