Eau happy day

Protesters rejoice at Perrier withdrawal

Anti-Perrier protesters have rejoiced at the news the company has dropped its comedy award sponsorship - claiming it was their presure that forced the decision

Yesterday, it was announced that after 25 years, Perrier had withdrawn its backing of the awards – which will now be officially known as the if.comeddies after new sponsor Intelligent Finance stepped in.

The awards had come under fire in recent years because of what campaigners see as parent company Nestle’s agreessive marketing of Baby Food in the Third World, as well as the environmental impact of bottled water.

Comic Mark Thomas, who has been a long-term critic of the sponsorship said: ‘Perrier's decision to back out of the comedy awards is to be welcomed. Neither Perrier nor Nestle mentioned the negative publicity that the Perrier award in Edinburgh has attracted in recent years as a factor for their withdrawal.

‘However, the work of campaigners and activists must be a factor in the company's decision to quit the festival. The question to ask the company is, if everything is going so well why pull out? ‘

But when asked what effect the campaigning had on Perrier’s decision to withdraw from the awards, producer Nica Burns said bluntly: ‘None.’

‘We have never been afraid of controversy,’ she added.

Protesters set up the Tap Water Awards to rival Perrier’s dominance of Fringe comedy. Organisers say the awards will still go ahead as ‘an ethical awards ceremony celebrating all original artistry, not just comedy’.

Patti Rundall, policy director of Baby Milk Action which coordinates the international Nestlé boycott said the withdrawal of Perrier was ‘fantastic news’.

‘The organisers will have found it increasing difficult to justify sponsorship for an award that is meant to make people feel happy from a company that brings so much suffering,’ she added.

However, Nestle has always strongly insisted that it sticks to international codes of practice on the marketing of baby products.

Yesterday, Stefano Agostini, managing director of Perrier said: ‘Our 25 year relationship with the comedy awards has exceeded all our expectations. We have had the most fantastic time, but 25 years is a record sponsorship and we felt that it is time for us to explore new opportunities for the brand.’

  • Malcolm Hardee's ghostwriter John Fleming has called for the suggested third Eddie comedy award be named in honour of his late friend, for being one of the Fringe's most legendary characters.

>> Perrier ends awards sponsorship


Published: 15 Jun 2006

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