The Oscars: Glitter, Glamour and Marketing

The Oscars have been a marvelous celebration of Hollywood's cinematic successes since 1929. With each year, the awards ceremony seems to be a bigger deal than the last and more brands are stepping forward to get a piece of the action. In the same way that the Super Bowl is as much about the commercials as it is the game, the Oscars are as much about the marketing opportunities it presents as it is about celebrating great achievements in film.

The Oscars: one giant commercial

An estimated 34.6 million people tuned in to watch the Oscars this year and advertisers paid up to 4 million dollars for a 60 second commercial. Wow, right? But nobody watches the Oscars just to see the commercials like they do with the Super Bowl. Some tune in for the dresses on the red carpet and others stick around to see the actual awards ceremony, which is like one big commercial in it's own right.

It works this way because many of the people watching the Oscars are already very invested in film. They've seen some of the year's nominees and are interested in seeing who wins. Based on clips from the nominated films, they're very likely to make a list of ones they'd still like to see. It's a great way for movie buffs to shop for films and for filmmakers to advertise their work. There's a nice symbiosis to it.

But it doesn't stop there. People take to Twitter while they watch the show to comment on a gown or to express their opinion about the winners. The film industry doesn't even need to bother with social media for the night because its customers are doing all the promoting for them. And it keeps going! You can see examples of the evening's tweets the next morning in recaps all over the Internet. It's a brilliant example of word of mouth marketing and it's amazingly powerful. After all, how often have you asked a friend "how was the movie?" and then decided if you'd like to see it based on their feedback?

The Red Carpet

Before the big event, lots of people tune in to see the glitterati parade down the red carpet in magnificent gowns, shoes, bags and jewels made by the most exclusive designers. Even though the red carpet dresses aren't exactly available to the general public since the gowns are often a season ahead or are custom made for a particular actress, it's still a great opportunity for brand recognition when actresses answer that inevitable red carpet question: "who are you wearing?" (We'll talk about the #AskHerMore campaign another day).

Not only are the gowns and accessories an opportunity for fashion brand recognition, product placement and celebrity endorsement, the red carpet also gives other brands an opportunity to get their products seen. This year, Lego handed out Oscar statuettes made of Legos to key people, putting them in sight of viewers at home and making them a prominent part of the night. It was well received and very successful as evidenced by the joyful faces of the recipients and the Internet buzz about it the next day. Other brands did tie-ins as well, but one that really stands out is Stella Artois and Birdman featuring sponsored tweets and a tie-in between the beer's tagline, "She is a thing of beauty," with Emma Stone's character from the film.

This isn't the first year we've seen brilliant moves like this. Remember the selfie that Ellen took last year with a Samsung phone? It looked like a spontaneous decision, but it was actually very clever product placement and got Samsung a ton of exposure since the photo was retweeted by so many people it actually broke Twitter for 20 minutes that night.

And what about those 21 $168,000 swag bags they gave out this year to the hosts and losing nominees for best actor, actress, supporting actor, supporting actress and best director? They had um, some pretty sexy stuff in there as well as really practical things like custom furniture. All of the brands that have their products in that bag are getting media exposure. Being associated with the Oscars and pampered celebrities places them squarely in the elite luxury brand category.

At the end of the day it seems clear that careful thought goes into all the clever ways marketers get their products seen at the Oscars. Whether it's a commercial, a film, a dress or a Lego statuette, lots of what viewers at home see can be considered an advertisement of one kind or another. Sometimes it's subtle and sometimes overt.

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