By Richard Dodgson, Creative Director, Timebased Events. 

The GQ Men of the Year Awards 2018 in association with Hugo Boss was one of the hottest events in the calendar for the cultural trendsetters and icons of the entertainment industry. Timebased Events has been on a journey with GQ since producing the inaugural night in 1998, when the affair was relatively small and niche in comparison to today’s extravaganza. We have been part of the Awards’ evolution every year since, aiding it in becoming one of the world’s most recognisable and star-studded events. Following the 21st edition, held on the 5th September at the iconic Tate Modern, we look back at how the Awards have evolved over the years and discover how this year was the most influential to date.

The inaugural GQ MOTY Awards was held in the West End nightclub Café de Paris, a venue which seemed decidedly demure after it moved to the Royal Opera House. The spectacular glass-vaulted venue has played host for nearly two decades, with its Paul Hamlyn Hall making an impressive backdrop. The Awards made history in 2013 by setting up the largest dinner ever held in the Paul Hamlyn Hall, with 570 attendees. In preparation, a mezzanine was added to the Balconies Restaurant above the 150-year old hall – a construction which then had to be removed early the next morning. It was no easy feat!

Since 2016 the ceremony has been hosted at the prestigious Tate Modern, cementing its cultural relevance and connection to contemporary-minded millennials. This new venue also allowed for an increase in guest numbers, rising to over 900 attendees. It is undoubtedly an honour to create something special in such an inspirational venue.

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The GQ MOTY Awards has stayed buzzworthy through its dedication to the youthful and digital-savvy demographic. This year’s presenters: Maya Jama, Roman Kemp and Clara Amfo, some of the biggest names in radio and online media, perfectly appealed to this target audience. Kemp and Amfo did a fantastic job of hosting GQ’s Facebook Live on the red carpet, bringing followers all the action as guests arrived. This, in addition to the universal hashtag ‘#gqawards’ ensured that the ceremony could reach maximum engagement levels – over 20k posts on Instagram and trending on Twitter – and generate a feeling of inclusivity for loyal GQ fans. The event has experienced a digital evolution since the early shows in the pre-social media days.

GQ continually push to be bigger and better than every year before, in order to spark and create cultural conversations. As Michelle Russell, GQ Events Director, affirms; “the Awards have gone from strength to strength in its 21 years and we are extremely proud of the cultural prominence it has achieved. From a unique venue and cultural icons to increasingly dynamic content – holograms, moving screens, live performances”. The 2017 event was a perfect example of this innovative mindset, with a Contrazoom technique used to film the stars for social media platforms and this year was no different, with a spectacular Instagram tunnel complete with a moving treadmill. It’s important to get the logistics right, as this will maximise the reach and ROI of the awards show and highlight British GQ to the world.

Over the lifetime of the Awards there have been countless special moments, from the attendance of the late David Bowie to Elton John, Johnny Depp, Madonna, Kanye and Kim Kardashian. The 2018 edition was a phenomenal achievement with HRH Prince Charles in attendance, three live performances from John Legend, Johnny Marr and the London Gay Men’s Chorus. Plus, more categories than ever before, including Rose McGowan becoming the first female to win an Inspiration Award.

With Michelle assuring that “the GQ Men of the Year Awards continues to be a phenomenal success and each year is more spectacular in its breadth”, anticipation is already brewing for what will be in store for everyone next year.


Richard Dodgson is Founder and Creative Director of Timebased, a unique events company that has collaborated with a wide range of visionary brands from GQ and Vogue to Hugo Boss and M&S. Richard launched the company in 1996 after working with other events businesses and realising he had the creative flair to have a successful business of his own. The company now employs 19 people and has turned over £4 million this year.

Adam is the co-founder and editor of www.eventindustrynews.com Adam, a technology evangelist also organises Event Tech Live, Europe’s only show dedicated to event technology and the Event Technology Awards. Both events take place in November, London.