CAMPAIGNS: Public Awareness - Black music gets back to its roots

Client: MOBO Awards 1998

Client: MOBO Awards 1998

PR Team: Nautilus Communications and The Television Consultancy

Campaign: To raise the profile of the 1998 MOBO Awards

Timescale: June-October 1998

Budget: Undisclosed

The MOBO (Music of Black Origin) Awards was established in 1996 to

celebrate the contribution black culture has made to music. Awards are

given in 23 categories, ranging from Best Unsigned Act to the Lifetime

Achievement Award, and seven different types of music are covered, from

gospel to drum and bass.

While the awards are made irrespective of the race of the winners, the

nature of the event is still somewhat controversial. Media interest in

the past has been restricted to the specialist music press, but the

profile of the event has been gradually raised, and this year it was

televised nationally for the first time.


To raise the national profile of The Malibu 1998 MOBO awards by

achieving mainstream media coverage, while ensuring the specialist music

press remained supportive.


Strong ticket sales and high viewing figures were essential to the

success of the MOBO Awards, so pre-event coverage was vital.

It was decided to throw a star-studded party to announce the nominations

and the details of the awards.

Nautilus arranged the MOBO launch at London’s Emporium club a month

before the ceremony and invited press, television and radio crews. The

media were able to interview MOBO founder Kanya King, artists such as

Shaznay from All Saints, Beverley Knight and girl group the Honeyz, as

well as hearing the nominations.

Spice Girl Mel B, better known as Scary Spice, was announced as the

co-host of the awards, alongside US MTV presenter Bill Bellamy. Drinks

brand Malibu was announced as MOBO’s major sponsor.

On the evening of the awards, Nautilus held a press conference for print

media and photographers and set up a press room to make it easier for

television crews to conduct one-to-one interviews with the winners.

A specialist TV agency, the Television Consultancy, worked with Nautilus

to produce a three-minute promotional film, which was compiled from

backstage footage on the night itself. The film was edited and

distributed overnight in time to make the breakfast news bulletins.


The campaign achieved over 30 national newspaper stories and 50 magazine

features - the most extensive coverage received by MOBO since the event

began two years ago.

In all, 30 TV programmes including the BBC’s Six O’Clock News, Channel 4

News, Sky News and The Big Breakfast covered the awards, together with

ten radio stations .

The event at London’s Royal Albert Hall was a sell-out, and Channel 4’s

viewing figures reached a peak of 1.1 million during the broadcast.


A-list celebrities such as Mel B ensured MOBO would hit the headlines

which made Nautilus’ task a lot easier. However, headlines like ’Coming

of age for black awards’ (The Times, 16 October) shows that broadsheets

which had not previously written about MOBO acknowledged it had become a

mainstream music event. TV and radio coverage was also impressive and

Nautilus has had interest’ from potential sponsors for 1999.

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