The winner of this year's Turner Prize, the UK art scene's premier awards event, was announced last night. New sponsors of the Turner Prize, Gordon's Gin, must have been relieved that the announcement was not accompanied by the sort of controversy and media outrage that has characterised recent Turner Prize celebrations. Winner Jeremy Diller was both the bookies favourite and, by all accounts, a popular choice with the three other finalists.
Gordon's Gin, which is part of the Diageo group, took over as main sponsors of the event in May 2004 when they announced a £1m deal to back the event for three years. The move was a brave one for the brand - it was the first major non-media consumer brand to link its name with the event for 15 years - as it sought to link Gordon's reputation as a refined British spirit with the craftsmanship and skill needed to create a work of art. In a move that may have helped ease the disappointment of the three 'losing' finalists, Gordon's doubled the prize money for the event from £20,000 to £40,000. The winner now receives £25,000 and the runners-up £5,000 each.
As part of their publicity for this year's event, Gordon's Gin is offering 'Tate City Break' holidays to users of their Web site (in exchange for some personal data). However, that aside, it seems as though the brand is adopting a minimalist stance regarding its sponsorship of the event. They devoted a single page on their Web site to the Prize, comprising a sum total of three paragraphs. And for a brand that is trying to underline its reputation for refinement and craftsmanship by associating with contemporary art, it would have been nice if they had employed a copywriter to craft the text. A single lame joke about Gordon's being 200 years old is simply not worthy of the quality and skill associated with the Prize.
So, for making the brave move to associate its traditional brand with the controvery-ridden art prize, we would love to salute Gordon's Gin. But for failing to fizz in its communications surrounding the event, we're suspending judgement.