PR team: In-house
Campaign: Guinness Ingenuity Awards for Pub Theatre 1996
Timescale: September 1995 - January 1996
Budget: pounds 70,000
Early last year Guinness public affairs manager Lynn Shepherd approached
several arts organisations, including the Royal National Theatre - for
which the company had previously sponsored touring productions - about
Shepherd dreamt up the concept of sponsored awards for pub theatre, a
source of writing and acting talent which has nurtured stars such as
Alan Rickman and Patricia Hodge.
Together with Pim Baxter deputy head of development at the NT, Shepherd
canvassed the concept of promotional pub theatre among theatre managers,
and received an overwhelmingly positive response to the proposal.
To create a sponsorship opportunity that would connect directly with the
brand objectives and would appeal to a 18-25 target market - an exact
match to the youthful pub theatre audience.
The Guinness Ingenuity Awards for Pub Theatre were launched in September
1995 with a press conference at the NT. Actress Patricia Hodge, who made
her first stage appearances at the Bush Theatre, talked about the
importance of pub theatre as a breeding ground for new talent at the
launch and in an interview with the London News Network.
The competition was thrown open to pub theatres in London. Five prizes
of pounds 10,000 each were offered to support performances and the
winners were also offered studio time at the NT’s Centre for Research
Prior to the launch, the company staged a photo/film call with Joe
McKinney, who worked in pub theatre in Dublin before shooting to fame by
dancing round a pint of Guinness in an ad. The event was filmed by
London Today, who ran the item three times in the run up to the launch.
The awards were promoted with a vigorous media relations campaign
targeted at the specialist pub trade papers, the arts press and the
nationals as well as TV and radio. Information was also made available
on the Guinness Internet site with specific performance links ups with
The awards ceremony on January 26 was hosted by TV personality Simon
Fanshawe at the NT with Secretary of State for National Heritage
Virginia Bottomley presenting the awards. The judging panel included
National Theatre executive director Genista McIntosh, head of the NT’s
studio Sue Higginson, associate director of the NT Nicholas Wright,
Evening Standard critic Nick Curtis and Guinness’s Shepherd. Guinness
received 42 entries from 25 pub theatres in London and as a result of
the quality of entries, eventually made seven awards.
The winning performances are scheduled to appear throughout the year at
seven pubs in London. The first Roberto Calvi is Alive and Well opened
on 26 March at the Hen and Chickens in Islington. Each performance run
is heavily branded and will be accompanied by a brand promotion and a
prize draw for 366 cans of Guinness.
The initial announcement and award ceremony were covered by Carlton
Television’s London Tonight and by Radio 4’s arts programme
Kaleidoscope, GLR, Radio 5 Live, London News and the Times. Arts
correspondent Robin Stringer of the Evening Standard also gave space to
the Guinness initiative.
Substantial coverage in the pub trade press included pub profiles in
Licensee and Morning Advertiser.
A carefully targeted sponsorship concept, milked for all it was worth by
the in-house team. The variety of angles ensured extensive radio and TV
coverage with interviews with both sponsors and the winners while the
use of Joe McKenney ensured an immediate link back to the brand and
instant recognition of the sponsor. The company is already talking about
running a nationwide promotion next year. ‘It seemed like such an ideal
fit that it was surprising no-one had thought of it before,’ says