CAMPAIGNS: SPONSORSHIP; Guinness gongs a stout success

Client: Guinness PR team: In-house Campaign: Guinness Ingenuity Awards for Pub Theatre 1996 Timescale: September 1995 - January 1996 Budget: pounds 70,000

Client: Guinness

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

sponsorship opportunities.

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

and Development.

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

other sites.

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


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