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Kiwi Publishers Celebrate Humanity's Qualities

Kiwi Publishers Celebrate Humanity's Finer Qualities In World's Richest Photographic Competition

At the close of what has been mankind's most violent and destructive Century, a New Zealand publisher is focusing on humanity's finer qualities through the eyes and lenses of some of the world's best photographers.

In a year dominated so far by daily images of the conflict in the Balkans, Auckland firm M.I.L.K. Licensing, a subsidiary of publisher Hodder Moa Beckett, is staging the world's richest photographic competition to encourage serious photographers the world over to explore the themes of Friendship, Family and Love. The goal is to create a snapshot of humanity at the close of the millennium.

The competition `Moments of Intimacy, Laughter and Kinship' (M.I.L.K.) invites photographers from all over the world to submit work under the three categories of `friendship, family and love'. The competition runs from April - September, 1999.

One hundred finalists in each category will have their work published in a series of three books - one on each of the competition themes. A major international publishing programme based on the winning images is planned. Each of the 300 finalists receive US $1,750. Category winners receive a further US $20,000. The overall winner receives a further US $100,000, making a total of US$750,000 (NZ $1.5 million) in prize money the biggest prize pool ever for photographic work. Winners in each category and an overall winner will be chosen by Chief Judge Elliott Erwitt.

The ambitious scope of the project is reflected in its aim of including photographers from 192 countries around the world - perhaps the first time that the world's photographic community has been brought together on a single venture. The aim of the competition is `a celebration of humanity depicted through unique and geographically diverse images of friendship, family and love.'

To reach photographers worldwide, M.I.L.K. Licensing worked with communications company Ammirati to create a global photographic database and develop a global brand for M.I.L.K. The communications programme has included advertising, publicity and one-to-one marketing, and is based upon the Internet, in particular the competition web site at www.milkphotos.com.

The web site is the means by which photographers register and enter the competition. There are no physical entry forms in magazines or photographic outlets. The web site also houses a `media centre' which media can access using a password to gain up-to-date information about the project.

So far entries have been received from more than 90 countries, with the first sets of photographs already arriving at the M.I.L.K. headquarters in Auckland. Organisers are delighted with the response.

"The enthusiasm among the photographic community has been remarkable," says Project Director, Ruth Hamilton. "As we got involved we realised that there is no single world centre for photography, so we had to do the research ourselves. A lot of it has been one-to-one, finding individual photographers or groups that can spread the word, especially in countries without established photographic institutions."

Ammirati Chief Executive Stephen Pearson said the project demonstrated that a global brand could be created extremely cost- effectively with the Internet as the primary driver.

"It also underscores the importance of research and targeted, one-to-one marketing, as a means of achieving communications goals with the minimum of cost."

The competition is open to professional photographers and serious amateurs and runs until September 30, 1999, and is free to enter.

ENDS....

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