The Great British Business Awards scam

When we set up Lashbrook Lassis, we thought that winning awards was a great way to raise our profile without having to dip into our very limited funds. This was true to an extent, however we soon found ourselves being asked for money when entering such competitions and that the world of business awards was significantly murkier than we first thought.

We are extremely proud of the awards we won, which included the South Oxfordshire New Business Competition and the Best Drink Product at the Caffe Culture exhibition. These competitions were both free to enter and we were diligent when completing the application and meeting the judges. The press and kudos we received was incredibly helpful too and we often led our pitches to potential buyers off the back of these awards.

As our business grew and we looked to gain regional and national listings, we naturally sought regional and national business awards. Yet we increasingly found there was an obligation to pay to either enter or attend the awards ceremonies themselves. I remember when we were short-listed for the Oxfordshire Business Awards and had one of the judges visit us. After we spoke for an hour and showed him round our premises, he mentioned while leaving that if we reached the finals we would have to pay for our tickets to the ceremony – at £120 each! This seemed like a very odd situation, where we were effectively being rewarded with the bill for our dinner.

Following this, we decided to enter the Global Dairy Awards competition as it seemed appropriate for our target market and we had also been invited to the conference free of charge. Yet again though, we were a surprised at being asked to hand over £500 to simply put an application in. This turned out to be a complete waste of money as we weren’t even shortlisted in our category.

Ultimately these costs are minor compared to some of the more well-known awards that you see associated with particular products on our supermarket shelves. One of the most recognisable awards is the Product of the Year Award. These relate to various categories of consumer products and to win one would set you back almost £20,000!

While the Product of the Year Awards are unusual in the amount they ask for, the whole awards sector seems to lack any integrity. It is clearly more of a publicity stunt for the companies who enter than an honest appraisal of the products themselves. And so next time you see a product with an award attached to it, they would almost certainly have paid for it and should not necessarily be considered a reflection of its quality.

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