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.