Golden Globes Ask Studios to Curb 'Winners' Ads (Exclusive)

The organization's president sent a letter to Hollywood studios instructing them not to "mislead the public" following "several instances" of this sort of behavior.

The president of the Hollywood Foreign Press Association has sent a letter to the publicists of the major film studios warning them not to "mislead the public" by suggesting, in publicity and advertising, that a Golden Globe nominee is the "winner" of a nomination, The Hollywood Reporter has learned exclusively.

THR has obtained a copy of the Dec. 30 letter, sent by Theo Kingma, which comes in the wake of "several instances" in which promotion of this sort was made in print and on television, prompting complaints from other studios, according to Kingma. THR was able to identify several cases of it -- for Fox Searchlight's 12 Years a Slave and The Weinstein Co.'s August: Osage County, Philomena and Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom -- but there may have been others, as well. In those instances, the word "WINNER" appeared in large letters and "of [the applicable number] Golden Globe nominations" appeared below in a much smaller size.

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The HFPA, which was long dismissed as a ragtag group of journalists whose support could be curried with favors and photographs, has made a concerted effort over the past year, following a slew of negative publicity, to reform itself. In June, the organization chose as its new president Kingma, who at 46 is one of its youngest members. In December, it announced its first set of Golden Globe nominations in years that were not widely disparaged as blatantly kowtowing to A-list stars. And it is now clearly taking a stand against the sort of promotion that is not tolerated by the only higher-profile awards show that exists, the Academy Awards.

The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, which determines Oscar nominations and winners, addressed this issue years ago. Rule 14ciii in the advertising section of the Academy's regulations specifically states that "pictures nominated for an Award of Merit may use the words 'OSCAR® Nominee,' 'ACADEMY AWARD® Nominee,' or similar descriptions incorporating the Academy’s marks provided that... the word 'winner' or equivalent term is not used to describe the receipt of a nomination."

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Kingma's letter can be read in its entirety below.

To all studio publicists,

Now that the nominations are out and we are looking forward to the excitement of the Golden Globe Awards ceremony on January 12th, I wanted to remind you of the proper scope of advertising and publicity related to Golden Globe Awards nominations and awards.

It is entirely appropriate for advertising and publicity material related to nominated films or films with nominated directors or actors to prominently display those nominations. This helps draw attention to the fine performances by the nominees and to the awards show itself.

However, we have recently seen several instances in which the word "Winner" was used too prominently in publicity and advertising to describe nominees. While earning a nomination is certainly an honor and one to be celebrated, it is not a 'win' and using that term or terms similar to it is likely to mislead the public and diminish the excitement around the awards show, when the winners will be revealed.

We are happy to work with you on appropriate wording for your advertising and publicity materials. And we appreciate your continued support of HFPA and the Golden Globe Awards.

Kind Regards,


Theo Kingma

Twitter: @ScottFeinberg