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How the BAFTA campaign went virtual in 2021 – Deadline

For BAFTA voters, the first quarter is normally a blur of screenings at luxury hotels, drink receptions, DVD screens, and the occasional roadblock as distributors attempt to steal a march on their rivals as we reach the critical moment of awards season.

Everything has changed this year, of course. The locks still in place have sabotaged the vast majority of traditional campaigns, and while many of us have had a bit more time for these bottomless controllers (nowadays largely online), the physical events have been. mostly non-existent.

Because the season has been pushed back to 2021, we are now in the midst of feverishness on the home stretch of the election campaign. The third and final BAFTA voting round ends today before the double ceremonies on Saturday and Sunday (April 10 and 11), followed by the Oscars on April 25.

Ang Lee will receive a BAFTA scholarship

Despite the challenges, pricing consultants campaigning on behalf of studios and streamers have not been deterred and are working overtime to find innovative ways to move their business online while continuing to carve out influence. From home meal deliveries organized by Michelin-starred London restaurants to celebrity screenings accompanied by handcrafted cocktails, there’s no shortage of goodies.

For Claire Ingle-Finch, who heads boutique consultancy firm Finch & Partners, which works with a wide variety of distributors in the rewards game, 2021 represented a chance to experiment. And while it’s not possible to replace the buzz of an in-person event, she says virtual experiences offer their own benefits.

“Finch & Partners has been the link between luxury brands and entertainment for two decades. When we were faced with the pandemic, we had to think outside the box of how we were going to run these campaigns, ”she explains. “There is no such thing as the atmosphere, the laughter and the commitment to do something physically, but the online activity this season has certainly had a profound effect. Digital events can actually go beyond in-person screenings. “

A recent example of an event hosted by Finch & Partners was for Netflix Pieces of a woman, with star Vanessa Kirby for Best BAFTA Actress. The company hosted a party where Kirby was interviewed by British Vogue Director of publication Vanessa Kingori. Attendees of the virtual event, which was supported by Gucci (Kirby is a model for the fashion house), were treated to a dinner hosted by the iconic Michelin-starred Italian cafe The River Café.

While the primary focus of these events is to create an online buzz, due to the fleeting nature of popular social media features like Instagram’s “ stories, ” much of the response overnight no longer exists. A big Kirby fan, however, captured the image below of the star posted during the event:

@vanessa__kirby on Instagram

Last week, another London-based consulting firm hosted a ‘VIP screening’ of Dear friends, competing on behalf of Russia for the BAFTA Foreign Language Award. Viewers the night before were treated to three courses from iconic London restaurant The Wolseley: smoked salmon on rye bread followed by steak fries and chocolate mousse, drizzled with a bottled Moscow Mule cocktail on measured. The catering company sent Deadline the photos below to illustrate what was delivered:

Corbin King At Home Dining

Focus Features has participated in screenings of Promising young woman, and one day before, Richard Curtis hosted a question-and-answer session with Emerald Fennell and Carey Mulligan after the movie. The event was timed with Valentine’s Day and included a party package of chocolate, macaroons, and wine. Among the attendees were singer Jessie Ware and actress Carrie Hope Fletcher, who posted the following on TikTok:

@carriehfletcher on TikTok

Ingle-Finch says that just putting on virtual screenings and Zoom Q & As wasn’t enough, “We worked to do digital home screenings that are organized to be unique experiences that have a meaningful impact, we wanted. reach people’s homes. and make them feel part of it. “

And let’s not forget that the fundamental point of awards season is to celebrate the films and the filmmakers. Being able to host high-end luxury experiences at home has been one way to continue this celebration despite the gray cloud hanging over the industry from the pandemic. An added bonus has been to support restaurants that had to go out of business during the lockdown, notes Ingle-Finch.

But who is actually witnessing these events?

The BAFTA has clear rules regarding the treatment of voters when it comes to screenings that prohibit any kind of luxury experience that could influence the outcome of the vote. For example, food and drink are not allowed “on a scale where it could be considered an inducement”, participants cannot receive anything that constitutes a giveaway, and screenings cannot be advertised as being hosted by a celebrity. without direct link to the film. In addition, “selective distribution of tickets”, ie to influential voters or specific voting chapters, is prohibited.

The answer is that none of these events is officially a BAFTA activity. The invitations do not explicitly mention ‘BAFTA screening’ but rather something like ‘special talk / event / screening’, while some are organized in partnership with other organizations, such as Directors UK. As such, invitees are not strictly BAFTA members and tend to be a mix of influential voters with celebrities and “influencers” in general (i.e. people with many followers. on social media which can generate a lot of buzz on the internet with a post).

“By organizing an interesting audience of filmmakers, voters and taste makers, we were able to build a community around these titles,” says Ingle-Finch. “It’s about raising awareness through word of mouth.”

This type of campaign also extends beyond standard categories. Recently, M&C Saatchi Talk, Strike Media and Loop VIP Relations agencies sent baskets from catering company Wonderland At Home on behalf of sponsor BAFTA EE to promote the fact that voting is open for the BAFTA Rising Star award, with recipients including influencers as well as a handful of journalists (this journalist was one). The goodies made their way onto the Instagram Stories of notable figures such as Maya Jama, Ella Eyre and Tanya Burr, who between them have some 5.5 million subscribers.

Netflix has also been in the game of goodies. It won’t be surprising to learn that the streamer has been one of the most active activists. He was already a big spendthrift before the pandemic, as he sought to establish himself as a staple of major awards, and the lack of theatrical releases last year only strengthened his position. This was reflected in his 34 BAFTA nominations, comfortably the best of any Distributor and for the second year in a row he led the field (up from 23 in 2020).

As a digital company, the streamer broke new ground in online campaigns before the pandemic, including setting up its own “ virtual screening room ” ahead of last year’s season. A Netflix employee tells me that the lockdown has stepped up its efforts to make home viewing experiences special, however. The company also managed to host a few physical events ahead of the UK’s second nationwide lockdown in November, including a screening of Mank at Soho House which was accompanied by a photo exhibit.

This year, Netflix baskets have been shipped from restaurants, including Italian chic Bocca di Lupo and Petersham Nurseries in Covent Garden, which recipients tell me are excellent. However, elsewhere on the shackle front, an anonymous catering company sending food on behalf of Warner Bros’ Judas and the Black Messiah receives less than stellar reviews. “My request for vegetarian food was ignored and my son described the chicken he ate as ‘horrible’,” commented an anonymous voter.

Amazon, meanwhile, says it hasn’t done any special campaigns this year beyond official BAFTA screenings for its competing titles, including One night in Miami and Metal sound.

One event that didn’t go live this year is the glitzy BAFTA nominees cocktail party, which is hosted at Kensington Palace the day before the ceremony and sees a host of stars mingle with a few selected guests. For those who are normally lucky enough to get a ticket, Saturday’s BBC Two show might not quite look the same.

Ingle-Finch also won’t be drawn on plans for company founder Charles Finch’s glitzy annual dinner, hosted with Chanel and an awards season staple, but teases that there might be a plan in place for a replacement event.

Over the next few awards seasons, she predicts that the online campaign will be a permanent fixture, even once this pandemic is behind us. “I think in the future there will be a strong digital component in the awards season, it will become an integral part,” she said.

But how much impact will this whole campaign have on the outcome of the BAFTAs on Sunday (and Saturday) night? The proof, as they say, will be in the pudding.

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