What influence should sponsors have over award winners?

What influence should sponsors have over award winners?

Nobody can dispute that there are a lot of awards associated with the hospitality industry and they do serve a number of purposes. For those who receive them they are a chance to show to prospective customers that their establishment is worth a visit and to staff that their hard work has paid off.

They also denote a certain standard has been reached, which is why the integrity of an award is so important. In light of this it is interesting to look at a recent situation in which the sponsors of an industry award appeared to have more sway over the judges than possibly they should.

So here is what happened...an independent panel of judges had voted controversial brewer BrewDog as the winner of the Bar Operator of the Year award at the BII Scotland Annual Awards. Then staff from Diageo who sponsor the event said that their company would pull out of a future sponsorship deal if BrewDog won.

What were the Diageo staff hoping to achieve? Were they trying to protect the reputation of their company?

If so, that backfired as a PR debacle ensued, which resulted in the chief executive of BII, Peter Thomas, appearing on the radio to address the issue and Diageo making an apology to BrewDog.

Awards certainly have a place in the industry, but if judging panels can be seen to be so easily manipulated then they lose all value. Independent judges are brought in especially for this reason, but instead both BII and Diageo have undermined the integrity of their own awards. Mr Thomas said: "It is crucial that awards of this kind are entirely independent, transparent and above question. Therefore, we will be reviewing exactly what happened, and we will ensure that our usual rigour and high standards will operate in the future."

"The judging process must be clear, straightforward and understood by all concerned."
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