Qantas flies the coop as Canon takes over media awards sponsorship

“Winning a Canon” will be the new goal for the nation’s journalists and publishers after news the electronics giant has taken over from Qantas as naming rights sponsor of New Zealand’s premier media awards. Tim Pankhurst, chief executive of the Newspaper Publishers’ Association (NPA), which took over the running of the awards in 2010, says he “can’t speak for Qantas” as to why it is no longer naming rights sponsor.

“I’m entirely amicable about moving on from Qantas. It was a long term sponsor and we’re very grateful for its involvement, but you see in all manner of fields, for various reasons, sponsorships come to an end.”

However, Pankhurst says there was a feeling among the industry that the awards had become tired, which is why the NPA stepped in to run this year’s awards.

“There was a feeling in some quarters that it was tending to be run by rote and that here we are in creative and vibrant industry and we weren’t necessarily reflecting that to the full in the awards. We think this year we did that, we stepped it up to a new level and we got overwhelming feedback and we hope to take it up another notch again when we go to Christchurch next year.”

A Qantas representative was not able to be contacted.

One of the ways Pankhurst is planning to improve the event next year is by reducing the number of awards from 91 to 66.

“The feedback was that there is too many awards and that, as a result, we had to rush through things unduly. We’ve taken that onboard.”

He says with fewer awards, more time can be given to recognising the winners and to bringing more of them on stage to be “honoured by their peers” and, in some cases, to make speeches.

“To win one of these awards, to win a Canon, is a big deal; it’s a boost to a person’s individual career and it’s a boost to the publication and the company and the awards are used extensively in marketing. We didn’t want to diminish their standing, in fact we want to build it.”

Canon is an “excellent fit”, says Pankhurst.

“When you’ve got an event like this, it’s about more than just having a name attached to it and providing some sponsorship money, it’s got to be the right name.”

Canon has been involved with the annual Newspaper Publishers’ Association (NPA) awards since 2006 as the sponsor of the photographic section.

Mike Johnston, country manager of Canon New Zealand, says the decision was an easy one given the company’s longstanding relationship with the awards and with photojournalism.

“We’re delighted with this opportunity to develop our role in a fast moving media environment and to be involved with such a prestigious event. These awards are a celebration of the great people who shape our media landscape.”

The new awards will mean new trophies and Pankhurst says several tenderers are on the job to make a “Canon Award”.

“In the past it’s been an adhoc selection of trophies that have been inconsistent. There’s some awards where people walk away with a trophy and there’s others of equal or greater merit where they get nothing. We wanted to bring greater coherency to that. We aim to have the winners coming away from the awards next year being able to hold up a trophy.

The awards dinner will be held in late May in Chirstchurch, only a week after the print awards are held there.

“With Christchurch emerging from the earthquake, it is very keen to rebuild and show off what it’s got. We’re getting enormous backing from the Press and the wider Christchurch community. We’re looking at a big week of celebrating the industry.”

Entry forms for the 2011 Canon Media Awards will be posted in mid-December, entries will be open until 7 February. The awards are for work published in the calendar year of 2010 and, for the first time, will include video, reflecting the growth of new media.

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