Riding the Scotiabank Giller Prize marketing machine

Literacy. You really can't go wrong backing that one. So there are more than a few marketers getting in on this year's Scotiabank Giller Prize, in one way or another.

With the winner of Canada’s richest literary award set to be chosen from a shortlist on Nov. 7, the contest is attracting brands, partners and spin-offs.

It’s Scotiabank’s second year as the first-ever cosponsor of the prize, a move that doubled the prize pot to $50,000 in 2005. Scotiabank is getting through to library users across the country with its ‘Guess the Giller’ promotion, which gets interaction from library users (in person and online) who hope to win the short-listed books.

Last year, the poster-and-ballot-box approach didn’t make for the most accurate participation measurements. ‘Nobody has hard numbers, but we had at least 1,000 to 2,000 entries at each library,’ said Elana Rabinovitch, key contact for the Scotiabank Giller Prize. Rabinovitch said this year’s promotion will be measured using ‘a more scientific approach’ with 17 libraries directing online users to www.GuesstheGiller.ca, part of Carlson Marketing’s work for Scotiabank. ‘Guess the Giller’ also gets a push through the bank’s 950 branches.

CTV, touting the Scotiabank Giller as one of its ‘line-up of nation-building programs’ (an honour shared by the Junos), is in its second year as exclusive broadcaster for the prize gala and awards ceremony. Last year’s broadcast attracted an audience of 298,000 (2+, Nielsen Media Research) over CTV’s multiple airings on multiple platforms, including CTV Newsnet, talktv and three broadcasts on the main CTV channel.

Then there’s the party. For the fourth year in a row, the nationwide, volunteer-based literacy organization Frontier College will host the Giller Light Bash. The Steamwhistle Brewery snagged venue rights for the bash, which is still open for additions to its sponsors’ list, which includes Belgian chocolate brand Guylian, jewelry-makers Birks, Ontario’s own Pizza Pizza, New York Fries, Book City, CodeFusion Communications, Quill & Quire, CTV and Toronto’s Harbourfront Centre.

Additionally, the finalist authors will do more than just the usual readings at the Harbourfront Centre. Prior to awards day, they’ll gather at a Montreal branch of Nicholas Hoare bookstore to videoconference with fans and sign autographs long distance via the remote signing device recently dreamed up by Margaret Atwood and patented by Toronto-based Unotchit.

The Scotiabank Giller Prize awards $40,000 annually to the author of the best Canadian novel or short story collection published in English and $2,500 to each of the finalists. It was founded in 1994 by Toronto businessman Jack Rabinovitch to honour his late wife, literary journalist Doris Giller.

www.scotiabankgillerprize.ca, www.gillerlight.ca, www.longpen.com , www.guessthegiller.ca