The Guardian was voted The Marketing Society's Brave Brand of the Year at its Annual Dinner last night. The award recognises bold marketing leadership and marketing excellence and is held in association with Campaign and sponsored by Videology.
Over 550 marketers cast their vote live on the night, selecting the news organisation from a shortlist of four other brands unveiled that evening – Direct Line, Doisy & Dam, Mars and The New York Times.
Marketing Society members and readers of Campaign selected the shortlist from an original list of 20 brands. The Guardian joins an illustrious line of Brands of the Year including Channel 4 in 2016, O2 in 2015, Macmillan Cancer Support in 2014 and Sainsbury's in 2013.
In the current political climate, it was not surprising that two news organisations were recognised in the shortlist for their campaigning journalism in the face of challenging conditions.
"It’s a messed up world so it’s important to be brave," said Sonia Sudhakar, director of consumer marketing at Guardian News & Media. "Our journalism is for the people, it’s a mission. And this is about feeling hope in dark times."
The Guardian has had an important year with groundbreaking journalism including its ongoing Panama Papers’ investigation, exposé of child sex abuse in football and Sports Direct’s underpayment of workers. Similarly, brave online innovations, including 6x9, a virtual reality experience of solitary confinement, are pushing the boundaries of digital storytelling. Meanwhile, a decision to move to a tabloid format from 2018 and initiatives including a paid membership scheme, which has over 300,000 paying supporters and members, are helping financial recovery.
Chief executive of The Marketing Society Gemma Greaves said: "Building on The Marketing Society’s brave agenda, The Brave Brand of the Year recognises brands that are pushing boundaries in challenging times.
"The Guardian was a well-deserved winner with its campaigning journalism and insistence on uncovering the truth against all odds. And it was no surprise that The New York Times was also on our shortlist – another courageous news organisation, needed today more than ever. I’m so proud of our industry’s resilience and determination and, at our Annual Dinner last night, we had the opportunity to celebrate everything we stand for."