You can’t go a week now, without being confronted by an awards ceremony. This week it’s Fox’s Teen Choice Awards from Los Angeles – after which the Teen Choice Awards winners will be seen proudly hefting their multi-coloured surfboards across our papers and screens. But how long will this new found fame last? Who are the true winners of this awards ceremony? Obviously, it’s the brands.
Winners and losers on the red carpet
There are clear benefits for a network like Fox airing awards. To name but a few:
- It associates the Fox brand with A-List stars
- It stakes a claim for knowing an important audience group – teenagers
- And, perhaps most importantly, it gives execs a chance to live it up for a night
However, with so many awards floating around it is hard to stand out. Miley Cyrus’ twerking on the 2013 VMAs stood out more than any of the night’s winners (Anyone remember them? Didn’t think so). As entertaining as incidents like these are, they are tied to a particular year and are not replicable annually.
So what is it that acts as a bloodline, tying awards together year on year and symbolising what they mean to the viewing public? The only clear identifier seems to be the awards themselves, which give us an indication of which key values the organisers think their audience connects with and what will elicit aspirational sighs from sofas across the land.
When the Teen Choice Awards winners walk down the red carpet with their prizes, they’re actually going to be taking home much more than a garish board. At Hook Research, we’ve been studying teens and teen brands for a long time and using our Talking Human ethos to engage them in powerful, authentic conversations.
From our chats with young people around the world, this is what we think each award symbolises for its corresponding brand.
What are the Teen Choice Awards winners – and others like them – actually winning?
FREEDOM: The Teen Choice Award plumps for a surfboard (redesigned each year). This is supposed to symbolise the freedom of summer, where lithe young bucks race to the beach, don board shorts and carve the waves.
RISK-TAKING: The classic MTV Spaceman award planting a flag in the ground (in outerspace), pushing boundaries, taking risks, and challenging the consensus.
BRITISHNESS: The Brit’s Britannia with extra levels of jingoism from the bespoke annual design provided by a British Artist.
BEING THE DADDY: Nothing says overblown success like the Oscar. If you were looking for examples of patriarchal domination you’d be hard pushed to go past a large solid gold man, in nothing but a pair of y-fronts carrying a sword
TRADITION: The Nickelodeon blimp in the Kids Choice Awards is based on the Nick logo from the mid 80s, an old-fashioned juggernaut flying into the skies to dump gunge on fully expectant celebrities.
As media (in terms of music and moving content) homogenises, the awards themselves are increasingly important in defining the award brand. They symbolise a mood-state and capture the imagination of an audience. Looking at these awards with a critical eye gives us a bit more insight not only into the brands that host them, but also gives us a peek at what they think about their core audiences…