Monday, January 31, 2005

Safin and Williams Triumph Down Under

2005 Australian Open Men's Singles Champion Marat Safin with the Norman Brookes Challenge Cup TrophyRussian Marat Safin and America's Serena Williams were the respective men's and women's singles champions at the first Grand Slam tennis tournament of the year, the Australian Open.

Marat beat local hero Lleyton Hewitt to claim the title and the magnificent Norman Brookes Challenge Cup (pictured, right).

Williams beat fellow American Lindsay Davenport to take the title, and the Daphne Akhurst Memorial Cup, for the second time.

The finals of the Melbourne tournament were watched by thousands of Australians at two giant outdoor screens in Sydney and Melbourne's Federation Square. These broadcasts were presented by the event's newest 'Partner-level Sponsor', American Express. The financial services giant had previously been an Offical Sponsor for the Australian Open, but increased its level of sponsorship this year. It was rewarded with a week's worth of free outdoor broadcasts at the two public venues, including the excitement of a men's singles final involving local hope Lleyton Hewitt.

Friday, January 28, 2005

TV Awards Boost Channel Profiles

Two UK TV shows this week hosted awards ceremonies for their arts related awards, demonstrating once again how the organisers and sponsors of an award can gain at least as much as the winners from the event.

ITV's flagship arts programme The South Bank Show held its ninth annual South Bank Show Awards at the Savoy Hotel in London. The Awards, conceived by the show's editor and presenter Melvyn Bragg, reward ten categories spanning the entire spectrum of the arts in the UK. Reporting of this year's awards was headlined by the story of a soap opera (Coronation Street) winning the Best TV Drama category. It is the first time that this award, traditionally associated with high-brow arts products, has been given to a soap opera. The South Bank Show Awards also introduced a new Breakthrough Award, in conjunction with the national newspaper The Times. This award recognises rising British talent and is awarded from a shortlist drawn up by the newspaper's critics in each of the ten existing awards categories. Readers of The Times then vote for the shortlisted nominees.

Meanwhile at the BBC, a rival TV station to ITV, the BBC Four World Cinema Awards were also announced this week. This award is open to world cinema (non-English language films) and was selected by a panel that included included X Files actress Gillian Anderson, critic Roger Clarke and Touching the Void director Kevin McDonald. Jonathan Ross, presenter of the BBC1 film show Film 2005, was involved in both the panel deliberations and as host of the awards ceremony.

In both cases, these awards boosted the profile and industry standing of the TV shows at least as much as they did the winners of each category. Hosting and/or sponsoring awards is a tried and tested way of establishing authority and status within an industry, sector or niche. Well done Melvyn, Jonathan, and your respective teams.

Tuesday, January 25, 2005

Survey Piggybacks on Oscar Fever

Now here's a smart move. Turner Classic Movies, the UK cable and satellite film channel, has just released the results of a survey which asked who the British public think most deserves to have won an Oscar. The results were announced just a couple of days ahead of tonight's nominations for the 77th Academy Awards - perfect timing to fill the void ahead of the big Oscar announcement, and perfect timing to gain maximum impact for an Oscar-related news story. Well done TCM!

For reference, the most popular choices from the poll were: Alfred Hitchcock for Best Director; Samuel L. Jackson for Best Actor; and Demi Moore for Best Actress. None of these has ever won an Academy Award in their respective categories (not including honorary Academy Awards). The respondents were asked 'Who is the most deserving Director/Actor/Actress never to have won an Oscar?' For the Director category, Martin Scorsese was second placed and Stanley Kubrick third. For the Actor category, Jackson was closely followed in the voting by Steve McQueen and Richard Burton. And in the Actress category, Sharon Stone and Meg Ryan were second and third placed respectively.

Saturday, January 22, 2005

Unique Exhibit at World Golf Hall of Fame

We´d like to make special mention of a unique exhibition that opened at the World Golf Hall of Fame in Florida, USA, yesterday. Running until March 13 2005, the exhibition is titled "The Crown Jewels of the Game" and actually features the prized trophies from a completely different sport, (American) Football. The event is a collaboration between the World Golf Hall of Fame, the NFL, the Pro Football Hall of Fame and Tiffany & Co. The exhibition co-incides with Super Bowl XXXIX, which will be staged in Florida.

The exhibit features the NFL Vince Lombardi Super Bowl Trophy and the NFL Pete Rozelle MVP Trophy, both of which were crafted by Tiffany & Co. The George S. Halas Trophy, given to the NFC Championship team, and the Lamar Hunt Trophy, given to the AFC Championship team, are also on display courtesy of the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Guests are able to see the NFL´s only complete collection of Super Bowl rings on display outside of the Pro Football Hall of Fame in Canton, Ohio.

This high profile collaboration between two different sports represents a major marketing initiative, allowing fans of both sports to experience and enjoy the respective trophies, awards and honours of each game. It is a win-win move that should boost the interest in both sports, and both of the respective Halls of Fame.

Tuesday, January 18, 2005

Orange Struggles to make BAFTA impact?

So, the 2005 Bafta nominations were announced this week. And that's exactly how they were reported - 'the Baftas'. If we were being pedantic, we would point out that actually the organisation BAFTA (the British Acedemy of Film & Television Arts) this week announced the nominations for its annual film awards, the Orange British Academy Film Awards. You see the difference? Bafta refers to the organising group, wheras the awards actually have their own name ... and their own sponsor. Communications group Orange has been sponsoring the British Academy Film Awards for eight years now, and yet the media and public still refer to the awards and the event as simply 'the Baftas'. Maybe there is a deference here to the two major Hollywood film awards, the Golden Globes and The Oscars, neither of which has a headline sponsor in the same way that Orange supports the Bafta Film Awards? Maybe it would demean the standing of the British awards to force a sponsor's name on the title used in the media? I don't know, but its interesting nonetheless. And this is not meant as a criticism of Orange either, who deserve our respect for their support of the film industry not just via the Bafta sponsorship but also a number of other initiatives. In addition to their headline sponsorship of the British Film Awards, Orange have also sponsored one of the prizes, the 'Orange Film of the Year'. This award is voted for by the public and recognises the people's favourite film - a populist award that ties in nicely with the sponsor's consumer focused brand.

A couple of other interesting items about the Baftas - or whatever we should call them - that I wanted to mention. Until 2001, the awards actually took place in April, which put them after the Oscars in the film awards calendar. Some canny marketer took the decision to bring them forward to February, a move that helps boost the profile of the Baftas as they are now seen - along with the Golden Globe Awards - as indicators of likey success in the Academy Awards. Its a strange phenomenon, that scheduling your awards ahead of a 'rival' actually boosts your own event, but it demonstrates the pre-eminence that The Oscars hold in the film industry. A second point about the Baftas regards the awards trophies themselves. When the first British Academy Awards were presented in 1949 the trophy was designed by the sculptor Henry Moore. But the current award, the distinctive Bafta mask, is based on a 1955 design by American sculptor Mitzi Cunliffe. The Bafta mask, along with the Golden Globe awards and the Oscar statuette, is an outstanding example of how a custom made, commissioned trophy can really help to distinguish and differentiate an award competition or event.

Sunday, January 16, 2005

Esat BT Young Scientist of the Year

While we like to concentrate on the business aspects of awards and event sponsorship here at Winners Podium, every once in a while we come across a winner whose achievements are just so remarkable that we have to comment.

One such winner is 16-year old Irish student Patrick Collison, who has just won the 2005 Esat BT Young Scientist of the Year Award in Ireland. Patrick won the award this year (after coming runner-up last year) by developing a new computer programming language. His invention - CROMA - is actually a variant of the Lisp language, which has been used for applications that include the widely-used Yahoo Webstore platform. What excites us here at Winners Podium is that CROMA was developed with Web programming in mind. Imagine, in a few years our blogs could easily be based on Patrick's new language.

As well as a custom made Waterford Crystal trophy, Patrick was presented with €3,000 for winning the national competition. He now goes forward to represent Ireland in the European Union Contest for Young Scientists which will be held in Moscow, Russia, in September 2005.

Talking of Waterford Crystal, we'd just like to mention that one of our partner sites,, offers a wide range of brand name crystal awards and trophies that are perfect for your competition or awards ceremonies. They offer free engraving on all products, including logo engraving, leaving you with an impressive and customised award to present to your winners. As with the EsatBT Young Scientist awards, it is the photo of the winners with their trophies that makes the press the next day, so maximise the branding and publicity potential of your awards event with an impressive and custom engraved crystal trophy.

Saturday, January 15, 2005

All Eyes Down Under for Tennis Blitz

The centre of the tennis world moved distinctly southwards this week as Australia and New Zealand play host to a glut of tournaments. This clustering of tennis awards in the same region over the same time period, particularly at a time when weather conditions in the northern hemisphere are not great for sport, is an organisational masterstroke. It ensures both maximum participation - players can expect to compete in more than one high level competition during the period - and, crucially, maximum media coverage. If its worth while to the players to travel all that way, it is doubly so for the sports media who are the lifeblood of tennis. Co-incidentally, it also offers outstanding corporate hospitality and promotional opportunities to the sponsors too!

The highlight of the current crop of tournaments is, of course, the Australian Open. Held in Melbourne and sponsored this year by KIA Motors, the Open is one of the prestige tournaments in the tennis calendar.

Also featuring in the region during January are the WTA Canberra Womens Classic, the combined WTA/ATP Medibank International (Sydney), the WTA Moorilla International (Hobart), and the ATP Heineken Open (Auckland).

Friday, January 14, 2005

Everyone's A Winner in Frost & Sullivan Awards

Consulting company Frost & Sullivan announced its 2005 Market Leadership Awards this week and provided a shining example of how a well-run awards programme can benefit both the winners and the conferrers of the awards.

The Frost & Sullivan Awards have become a leading business award and have helped establish the consulting group as a leading name in the global growth consulting sector. The Market Leadership Awards that were announced this week are conferred on companies that are deemed to have exhibited market share leadership through the implementation of market strategy. By rewarding achievement in the very area that Frost & Sullivan specialise in, they are further establishing their expertise and brand leadership in this sector.

For the winners of the awards, it offers an outstanding publicity opportunity. Frost & Sullivan partner with each winner to jointly promote their achievements. The Market Leadership Awards announced this week were for the following categories: Healthcare; Communication & IT; and Environment & Energy. The winning companies for each category were, respectively: Regent Medical; Verisign; and Andritz.

Wednesday, January 12, 2005

Nominations Announcements Stoke Awards Fever

Announcing a shortlist (or even a longlist) of nominees for an award has become an integral part of the publicity process for that honour. As the first few weeks of a new year are traditionally one of the busiest for awards ceremonies, there has been a glut of nominee announcements recently, each one offering excellent publicity opportunities ahead of the actual awards ceremonies.

Nominations for the 11th annual Screen Actors Guild Awards were revealed in Los Angeles this week, with actors Rosario Dawson (Alexander) and James Denton (Desperate Housewives) announcing the nominees. Prominent within the announcement, and the attendant publicity, were details of the national television coverage of the event.

In the UK, the list of nominees for the 25th BRIT Awards for music was announced this week at a glamorous Nominations Launch Party at the Park Lane Hotel in London.

The film industry also hosted two of its leading critics awards events this week, with the National Society of Film Critics, a group of film critics working for US newspapers and magazines, announcing their annual awards. The Broadcast Film Critics Association hosted its 10th annual Critics Choice Awards Show in a televised event at the Wiltern Theatre in Los Angeles. Both these film awards events, while prestigious, newsworthy and glamorous in their own right, are often reported as being indicators of possible success in the mother of all film awards, The Oscars, thereby helping to support and elevate the Academy Awards to a higher level.

Tuesday, January 11, 2005

Sony Ericsson Sponsor Women's Tennis in $88m Deal

Mobile telephony company Sony Ericsson has announced the largest sponsorship deal in both tennis and in women's professional sport after it reached agreement with the Womens Tennis Association Tour to become their title sponsor. The six-year deal is worth $88m (£66m).

This figure exceeds the current title sponsorship of the men's ATP Tour, held by Mercedes-Benz and estimated at about $10m per year. The move highlights the popularity of women's tennis among both women and men in the key demographic of well paid, young people across the major international markets. As Dee Dutta, marketing director for Sony Ericsson, says of the leading women players: "These are not just sporting icons, these are cultural icons."

The deal represents a brave move on the parts of both the sponsor and the sport. For Sony Ericsson, there is always the risk that injuries to some of the most glamorous stars of the circuit may deny them key publicity opportunities. There is no telling as to whether the game might be diminished as a spectacle, in the way that the men's game has, by developments in racket and ball technology. And there are no guarantees that the Tour may become stulted by the dominance of one particular player. For the WTA, the move represents a U-turn in its sponsorship strategy. WTA chairman and CEO Larry Scott actually persued a regional sponsorship strategy when he joined from the men's ATP Tour in 2003. He felt that relying on a single company for global sponsorship was too risky, and would deter other companies and brands from becoming minor sponsors. But he was persuaded to change tack by Dee Dutta, who was seeking a global sport that was a good fit for their global brand. Women's tennis, with its current crop of sexy young players and the favourable profile of its live and TV audiences, seems a perfect match. For the bravery of both parties in this high stakes deal ... we salute you!

Friday, January 07, 2005

Mercedes Championship: Golf's Winners Only Award

As this Winner's Podium site is dedicated to award winners and the sponsors who fund the competitions and their trophies, we couldn't let golf's current Mercedes Championship pass by without a comment.

The Mercedes Championship is the first competition of the year in the PGA Tour. But more significantly, it is only open to the winners of PGA Tour competitions during the previous year. This makes it a winners-only tournament, and the prestige and honour that such a select competition entails are also shared with the sponsors. In this case, that sponsor is Mercedes-Benz USA (MBUSA).

Mercedes-Benz USA has sponsored the competition since 1994 and their current deal will run until 2006. For this, the luxury motor company provides prize money of $1.1m for the winner of the Hawaii-based tournament, along with a Mercedes-Benz SL500 car. Total funding of the event, the centrepiece of Mercedes' golf sponsorship, is $5.5m.

In exchange for this sponsorship, the four-day Mercedes Championship is broadcast live in prime-time by ESPN. The prime-time slot is ensured by the five hour time difference between Hawaii and the east coast of the USA. By associating themselves with a winners-only tournament, Mercedes-Benz USA have elevated their brand above the standard golf tournament sponsors, and for this, along with their foresight regarding prime-time broadcasting schedules ... we salute them!

Thursday, January 06, 2005

Whitbread Book Award Category Winners Announced

The five category winners of the annual Whitbread Book Awards have been announced for 2004, cranking up the publicity ahead of the brewing company's headline award, the Whitbread Book of the Year, which will be announced on January 25th.

The Whitbread Book Awards are divided into five categories, with the winners of each receiving a prize of £5,000. The categories are: Best Novel; First Novel; Children's Fiction; Biography; and Poetry. The winner of each category also goes forward to the Whitbread Book of the Year Award, which carries prize money of £25,000.

The winner of the 2004 Whitbread Best Novel Award was Andrea Levy for 'Small Island'. This book also won the 2004 Orange Prize for Fiction and is hotly tipped to win the overall Whitbread Book of the Year Award. The Whitbread Children's Fiction Award was won for the third time by Geraldine McCaughrean, this time for 'Not the End of the World'. The best First Novel Award went to Susan Fletcher for Eve Green, while in the biography category the prize went to John Guy for his 'The Life of Mary Queen of Scots'. In the poetry section the winner was Michael Symmons Roberts for his fourth collection of poems.

The Whitbread Book Awards were launched in 1971 and have established themselves as one of the UK's premier book awards. By dividing the awards into two announcements - the category winners, and then the overall Book of the Year winner - they ensure maximum coverage and publicity for these awards. So for long service, and clever scheduling ... we salute the Whitbread Book Awards!