The flagship awards, which have been won over the years by the likes of Frank Skinner, Lee Evans and most recently Tim Key, ran without a sponsor last year, when they were funded by the awards' administrator, Nimax Theatres owner Nica Burns.
Speaking at a press briefing this morning, Burns described Fosters, which is owned in the UK by Heineken, as the “perfect fit”. “The right sponsor had to have a sense of humour, a long term commitment to comedy, owned by a company with an ethical track record and a history of long term sponsorships … it's not a lot to ask for is it?” she said.
David Jones, Heineken UK's press and PR manager, was at the briefing and echoed Burns' sentiments, citing Foster's previous advertising campaigns with Barry Humphries and Paul Hogan as evidence of the brand's comedy association.
Jones also highlighted that during research into their target market of 18 to 25-year-old males, comedy repeatedly proved itself to be high on their list of "turn ons".
Other events parent company Heineken has sponsored in the past include the UEFA Champions League (for 16 years), Heineken Cup (15 years) and the John Smith Grand National (6 years).
Fosters has initially signed a three-year deal, but at today's meeting both Burns and Jones were keen to emphasise that this will be a long-term partnership. They did not disclose the amount of money involved, but Burns said it was “a six-figure sum”, and “more than the 150k figure that has been rumoured.”
The Awards, often dubbed the 'Oscars of comedy', will be renamed The Fosters Edinburgh Comedy Awards, and a new logo will be unveiled before the Edinburgh Fringe kicks off on 6 August 2010.
As part of the new deal, the London winners' showcase - which was suspended last year - will be reinstated, and prize money on offer will rise to £10,000 for the main award winner, and £5,000 for the Best Newcomer and Panel Prize winners.