If you've ever thought that advertising associated with the Academy Awards doesn't generate the kind of interest that Super Bowl spots do, you're right. Year after year the event (recently rebranded as "The Oscars") is touted as a global celebration of entertainment, the apex of celebrity glamour. Yet the advertisers who pay big money for related TV spots often seem to fade into the background. Their campaigns are overlooked in lieu of "Best Dressed" lists. Their ads are outdone by hosting gaffs.
The night after this year's ceremony, my mother asked me why this is. Isn't the show a huge draw for consumers? Doesn't it have incredible reach? The answer is yes - and no. The audience for the program is undeniably huge, but not titanic - nowhere near the "billion people" celebrities have laid claim to in the past. The Oscars typically pull in about a third of the U.S. consumers that the Super Bowl does, less than a fifth of the audience for the Olympics, and - to really put it in perspective - half the viewers of the final episode of "Cheers." While it's far and away the biggest entertainment telecast and one of the year's most anticipated nights of TV, it rarely spawns the same jaw-dropping, awe-inspiring campaigns we see from other major television events.
Consider all of this for a moment…and then forget it, because Oscar advertising is smack in the middle of a revolution, and it's all unfolding online. This year, 8.9 million tweets were sent and received during the telecast. The "Oscar App" was downloaded 432,000 times - a 16 percent increase over last year. According to TV by the Numbers, consumers spent over 33.4 million minutes engaging with digital content on Oscar Sunday.
Once, marketers watched the telecast and waited for the viewer stats to roll in. Now, they monitor and tweet from mission control centers in real time. Having access to such an engaged audience and the ability to shape and react to social chatter will undoubtedly change the way brands look at Oscar ads. In fact, it already has. Take a look at how marketers navigated the new digital paradigm this year, and how you can do the same in your day-to-day campaigns.
This year's Oscars provided some of the most exciting digital promotions we've seen from the show to date. By next year, campaigns created for the event - and the way in which marketers choose to deliver them - might just be ready to steal the spotlight.
Last Week to Save on SES London Tickets!
SES London takes place February 10-13, 2014. Learn to engage customers and increase ROI by distributing your online marketing efforts across paid, owned & earned media. Join the leaders of today's digital marketing & advertising industry. Find out more ››
*Saver Rates expire this Friday, Dec 13.
Tessa Wegert is an interactive media strategist with Enlighten, one of the first full-service digital marketing strategy and services agencies, serving such brands as Bioré, Bratz, Food Network, illy, Hunter Douglas, Jergens, and Olympic Paints and Stains. An industry veteran, Tessa has worked in online media buying and planning, marketing, and online copywriting since 1999. She is an active freelance writer specializing in interactive marketing who has contributed to U.S. and Canadian publications, including "USA Weekend Magazine," "Marketing Magazine," "The Globe and Mail," and "The Montreal Gazette." She is frequently quoted as an industry expert and speaks regularly at industry conferences and events.