Friday, May 28, 2004

NATIONWIDE TAKE ON THE MERCURY: The Mercury Music Prize is a bit of an oddity, in that it's done a really good job of promoting its original sponsor - which is a bit of a problem, since the company who established the prize long ago ceased trading under the Mercury banner.

Hairy older readers will recall Mercury, Cable & Wireless' single-minded but doomed attempt to challenge British Telecom; there's still a couple of the old Mecury boxes lingering in forgotten corners of the country, and some shops still have the Harry Enfield splattered promotional material displayed under layers of abandoned Point of Sale material. There was a time when you couldn't move for Enfield's Cholmdley-Warner character extolling the virtues of Mercury from the side of buses, edges of newspapers and televisions - "I felt like Enver Hoxa" said Enfield, in what might have been his last amusing moment.

The Mercury dream stalled, however, and the brand got chucked away, which left the high-profile music prize without a sponsor. Into the breach stepped Technics, the record player people, who've been underwriting the price of fish suppers for a couple of hundred music writers and pop stars from the posher end of the market for a few years. But now they've stopped doing it, so the Nationwide Building Society - the people who already bring you the less important football matches - is stepping up to take on the sponsorship. Of course, the value of trying to associate your brand with a prize that's known entirely by the name of a defunct sponsorship is highly questionable, so it could be possible that this is actually an entirely altruistic deal. Like they really exist in business.

Interesting piece of trivia: Nationwide Building Society was formed by a merger of several smaller societies, and was named in a competition by viewers of 70s BBC news-light show Nationwide (do you see how inspired they were?). Nationwide, of course, used to be one of the promoters of the British Rock and Pop Awards, along with Radio 1 and the Daily Mirror, which went on to become the Brits. There's something pleasingly circular about this.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Pedant's corner: of course, it was Jon Glover who played Mr Cholmondeley-Warner. Enfield was Mr Grayson. Although, on re-reading, at no point do you say Enfield played Mr CW, merely that he was one of his characters. Er, as you were.

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