The producer of this year's Eurovision Song Contest, Bülent Osma, has underlined the importance of an effective promotional campaign as essential for winning the contest. He said that in an interview to the Turkish newspaper Milliyet.
“What makes the difference between becoming third or winning the contest is not the quality of the song anymore, but the promotional campaign effort that the record company deploys”, Osma said.
Indicating that last year's organisers of the Eurovision Song Contest have spent 11.5 million Swiss Francs (roughly 7.42 million euro), the costs for TRT for this year are slightly below this figure, due to the fact that some of the equipment, such as PCs, have been provided by sponsors, says Osma.
Osma expects a total of 1,500 journalists and 5,500 spectators to follow the event at the Abdi Ípekçi arena. Currently a team of 550 persons from various countries, including Germany, Norway, Sweden, the Netherlands, Denmark and the USA is working on the preparations. During the event this number will be as high as 2,500, as for each task, next to designated team, a second emergency replacement team will be permanently kept on stand-by. The only ones who have no emergency replacement on stand-by are the two presenters of the event, actress Meltem Cumbul and TRT television host Korhan Abay. “If something happens to them, I guess I will have to host the event”, jokes Osma.
Publicity for Turkey
Already more than 5,000 tickets have been sold for the final on 15th May. In addition to this, a contingency of 2,500 tickets is kept for the participant delegations, the press, EBU staffers, sponsors and VIPs. With 1,500 journalists expected to cover the event, Bülent Osma is aware of the publicity that the event will bring for Turkey — as well as the responsibility linked to this: “Fifty percent of our services are related to the press. The number of journalists will be twice the number of the participating artists. Also, journalists can sometimes be somehow capricious. We have to make sure that they are satisfied. When they return, they will report about Turkey. This can be positive, but could also be negative. It is a double-sided knife”. Several media complained about TRT's lack of press service during the preparations for this year's contest, but it looks like TRT wants to do better!
TRT seems to have made enormous efforts to keep the press satisfied: a large press tent able to host several hundreds of journalists has been installed next to the main building, featuring 250 Internet connections, 125 PCs, telephones and fax lines. 45 transmission cabins have been installed for the TV teams. In addition to the technical facilities, an attractive social programme is being offered to all participating artists, delegations and journalists. This includes a visit to the city’s historic sites and a cruise along the Bosphorus strait separating the city’s European and Asian shores.
Last but not least, the issue of toilet capacity for 7,500 persons has been given the required attention: “We have foreseen a separated toilet area for the participants. From previous experience we know that the stress might require the artists to use the bathrooms frequently”.
Stage and decorations
The Head of the Creative Team, Ms. Servet Işık. provides information about the stage design and decoration: “We have currently 150 technicians and six designers working on the stage design. The theme of the stage is ‘Under the same sky’. Inspired by the cityline of Istanbul, we are installing three dome’s, each one symbolising love, peace and tolerance. We will have various projections on the domes for each performance. We will be using plenty of red colours, in a reference to the Turkish flag”.
Işık notes that the design work is not limited to the interior of the venue. The street in front of the Abdi Ipekçi arena is being transformed into a Eurovision Street: “In fact, we are decorating the whole city for the event”. On Istanbul’s main square, the Taksim square, large screens are being installed and on which the city population will be bale to follow the qualifier round and the final live, at an open-air public party. For the participants, journalists and VIPs, an afterparty is organised within the historic Byzantine wall structures located opposite the Abdi Ipekçi aerna and of course, there will be a lots of firework, in six different locations across the city.
As for the chances of this year’s Turkish participant, the punk-ska group Athena, the TRT producer is hopeful: “Personally, I am not familiar with this type of music. I would have opted for another song. But we have to say that among all entries, there is no other of this kind. If the adherents to this type of music vote, then we will have a good score. If the 18-20-year-olds participate in the televoting, then we will have a good result”.
Osma’s analysis of the winning strategy is very pragmatic: “I was there when in 1997 the Turkish entry, Sebnem Paker, became third. If we had had a multinational record company such as Sony behind us, we might have even won. What makes the difference between becoming third or wining the contest, is not the quality of the song anymore, but the promotional campaign effort that the record company deploys. Sertab’s song was really great. Already they had loved the song. And in addition to this, the record company promoted the song in Europe during the whole month”.