CAMPAIGNS: Sponsorship - Beck’s puts its faith in the future of art

Client: Beck’s Bier (Scottish Courage)

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.

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