Mastercard axes music deal

The Music of Black Origin (MOBO) Awards is searching for a headline sponsor following Mastercard’s decision to withdraw from its multi-million pound involvement with the annual ceremony.

Mastercard has sponsored the event since 2000 and the deal is worth more than &£1m a year. The awards ceremony has become one of the most important events on the UK music scene.

The MOBO Awards were part of Mastercard’s music sponsorship strategy aimed at promoting the credit card brand as a way to buy music. Mastercard has featured the sponsorship in its McCann-Erickson-created TV campaigns around the event in October.

But the awards have also been dogged by controversy. Last year, Mastercard was criticised by gay rights activists for not ending its sponsorship after the MOBOs featured the work of allegedly homophobic artists. Controversial nominees have included So Solid Crew and Beenie Man.

Mastercard retains an interest in music through its sponsorship of the Brit Awards, but the company’s main focus is on sports: it is a primary sponsor of the UEFA Champions League.

WPP Group-owned sponsorship agency Premiere Group has been appointed to oversee the search for a new sponsor. The awards are owned by dance music company Boom Factory. They are broadcast around the world as well as on broadband by AOL.

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