Comedians hit back

August 30, 2010 at 12:01 pm | Posted in Comedy | Leave a comment
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When Fosters took over sponsorship of the former Perrier awards in Edinburgh I am sure they thought it was quite straight forward. Coming from an advertising background, I can just imagine the meetings required to ‘brainstorm’ this sponsorship.

Random Fosters Marketing person: “Guys, how can we make this bigger and better? How can we make sure we make our mark and stop people from continuing to bloody call it the Perrier awards!”

Agency creative: “Why not we celebrate 30 years of the awards and get the public to vote and crown the comedy god of the last 30 years of the Edinburgh fringe.”

Cue, lots of applause.

Not a bad idea, pretty straight forward, doing something different and fresh for a long time, job done. Who would have thought that a public voted competition, that for a brand does not look in anyway risky, would cause a bit of controversy.

It all started with Stewart Lee, who expressed his disgust at the competition particularly as it doesn’t recognise the acts that aren’t the superstars, who don’t get the recognition or the publicity that the big acts do. Read the letter to the awards producer here.

This began the twitter and facebook campaign to get the Japanese musical group Frank Chickens (as mentioned in Lee’s email) to the top of the tree, and crowned Comedy God.

Well, it seems to have worked. Frank Chickens, after more than 30,000 people have voted, are to be immortalised in Fosters beer cans. Albeit in a specially commissioned artwork. They ended up making pieces of the top four voted acts, so Fosters at least got to make works of the superstars namely, Michael McIntyre, Tim Minchin and Russell Howard rather than just Frank Chickens. Interestingly though that the other comedians in the top 4 are all of this generation. Really? Top 4 comedians that have ever been nominated for the awards in the last 30 years have been from the last few years? Hmmm, find that hard to believe.

But I suppose, this is a strange story in brand sponsorships and treading the line of credibility. If Perrier had held this competition, when they were sponsors, would they have witnessed the same backlash? Maybe not. The winners I suppose out of all of this has been Frank Chickens. I was one of the people who hadn’t heard of them until this controversy had come along.


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