Client: Beck’s Bier (Scottish Courage)
Campaign: The Beck’s Futures Art Award and Exhibition
PR Team: Jackie Cooper PR/ICA Press Office
Timescale: November 1999-May 2000
Budget: pounds 75,000
To celebrate 15 years of its support for contemporary arts in the UK,
Beck’s - Britain’s biggest-selling imported beer - launched a range of
new art awards, titled Beck’s Futures. The brand has previously
commissioned work by up-and-coming artists, helped to set up the student
bar at the Royal College of Art and provided beer for art exhibitions.
The awards were launched in conjunction with the Institute of
Contemporary Art (ICA) on 11 November 1999.
To raise awareness of Beck’s Futures as a new cutting-edge art
To attract a high number of people to visit the exhibition at the
The campaign aimed to target those already interested in the arts, as
well as a more mainstream audience.
Strategy and Plan
The announcement of the awards was made at a party at the ICA. This was
attended by opinion formers - such as director of the Tate, Nicholas
Serota, artist Sarah Lucas and Anthony Fawcett, who heads Beck’s arts
sponsorship and bought art for John Lennon - and the media. Initial
communication with the media to announce the first year of Beck’s
Futures centred on Beck’s 15-year art heritage and the launch of a
Tracey Emin limited edition bottle. News stories also focused on the
pounds 65,000 prize fund, which compares favourably to the Turner Prize
whose winner receives pounds 20,000.
A panel of high profile artists, curators and personalities were chosen
as the judges. These included Jarvis Cocker and Turner Prize nominees
the Wilson Twins for the main award, and Dave Stewart and designer Agnes
B for the student prize. Behind-the-scenes features were secured in the
Daily Telegraph and Time Out.
Following the announcement of the ten shortlisted artists, publicity
centred on the exhibition, held from 17 March to 17 May 2000, and the
artists themselves. Interviews with the artists took place across all
media. Interest was further fuelled by celebrities, including Charles
Saatchi and Alan Rickman, buying works of art.
A dedicated student campaign to support the ’Student Prize in Film and
Video’ element of the award ran alongside the main award and
Student magazines, web sites and radio stations were targeted to ensure
that students entered the awards.
The Independent on Sunday supported the first year of the awards by
acting as a media partner. Beck’s Bier also ran a competition to design
a limited edition Beck’s label, which received 187 entries.
Beck’s Futures culminated in a party held at the ICA to announce the
winners. Gilbert and George presented the main award, while British
fashion designer, Julien Macdonald, Agnes B and Dave Stewart presented
the student award. Other celebrities in attendance included Samantha
Morton and Alan Rickman.
The announcement of the winners of the Beck’s Futures award was released
under embargo to the press prior to the awards evening to ensure
coverage for the following day.
Measurement and Evaluation
No formal evaluation was conducted, but by gaining exposure in listings
magazines and supplements the team ensured a strong awareness among
potential visitors. Over 60,000 people visited the Beck’s Futures
exhibition between 17 March and 17 May compared to 45,000 for the ICA’s
previous biggest show.
Media coverage was extensive and included 87 pieces in the national
press, 32 consumer press pieces and 40 regional pieces. The tone of
these was generally positive, the new award being hailed as an
alternative to the Turner Prize. Broadcast coverage included pieces on
Channel 4 News and Sky News.
Beck’s Futures attained a high profile for a first-time award, and aims
to garner the same prestige as the Turner Prize.