PRWeek Global Awards Winners 2021 - Issues and Crisis

The winner in the Issues and Crisis category is Beating the Pirates: Stopping One of the Largest Heists in Corporate History by beIN Media Group.

PRWeek Global Awards Winners 2021 - Issues and Crisis

Operating in 43 countries across five continents, beIN Media Group is the world’s largest investor in sports rights. The group’s $15bn portfolio of content, including the FIFA World Cup, and Wimbledon, was under large-scale threat. For over two years, a piracy operation known as ‘beoutQ’ hacked beIN’s content feeds and repackaged them, costing billions in legal fees and resulting in 20% staff reduction.

Visit the PRWeek Global Awards hub to find out more about the winners

With the tacit support of Saudi Arabian government, legal efforts to tackle beoutQ failed, so beIN’ instead turned to the power of PR to create a commercial, media and political environment that made it impossible for beoutQ to operate.

Leveraging relationships with sports rights holders, such as UEFA, beIN made the case for protecting investment in sport. The group presented beoutQ as the ‘Netflix of Piracy’, demonstrating how other areas of entertainment content were affected.

Through briefing journalists and influencers daily, the group seized every opportunity to raise piracy as a global issue, and demanded a collective industry response to the issue.

BeoutQ became a hotly-discussed issue in sports, media and politics, with a total of more than 11,000 media mentions and a number of mentions in the UK parliament. Highlighting Saudi Arabia’s role in piracy led to political and commercial consequences, including being a key issue in the attempted Saudi takeover of Newcastle United Football Club, after beoutQ itself was switched off in 2019.

Judge's comment:

“Piracy and copyright has become an issue of world significance. This campaign highlights the power of influence through communication and where shame and reputational influence can be a powerful combination.”

Highly commended

Arresting the Spread of Covid in Asia’s Largest Slum by Weber Shandwick India for The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation

Seeking a way to effectively communicate during the pandemic in Dharavi, the Mumbai slum said to be Asia’s biggest, Weber Shandwick came up with the idea of capitalising on interest in the underground music scene. Working with hip-hop collective Gully Gang, a rap anthem in the area’s most common languages was recorded, containing clear messages around topics such as the importance of mask wearing. Achieving over 5.8m impressions across all media channels, the campaign was an effective tool for spreading vital information across India.


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