A Strategy as Good as Gold – How 2 Brands Took on Samsung on Oscar Night

The Academy Awards have come and gone. The dust has settled. And we’re still talking about the selfie that broke Twitter.

By now everyone’s seen host Ellen DeGeneres’ mid-show celebrity tweet, which within minutes of appearing on Twitter racked up a historic 1 million retweets – and kept right on going. Before the night was out it had reached more than 2 million, far surpassing President Obama’s “Four More Years” tweet to become the most retweeted post in history. According to Twitter, it earned @TheEllenShow 47 times her average daily follower count.

The real winner in the scenario, however, may have been Samsung, one of the show’s primary sponsors and the maker of the Galaxy device DeGeneres used to take her shot. As reported by ClickZ earlier this week, content marketing platform Kontera analyzed brand consumption surrounding the show and found that the selfie earned Samsung more than 900 social media mentions per minute. Not even the discovery that DeGeneres’s backstage device of choice was an iPhone could slow the brand’s wild Hollywood ride.

As the night rolled on, though, I couldn’t help but wonder what would become of the countless other brands vying for attention online. How would they fare against Samsung’s prominence? When up against a multi-million dollar media buy and organic product placement on the world’s biggest stage, how could companies hope to compete?

Cross-Channel Marketing Made Beautiful

pantene-zooeytweetThere was no single go-to strategy, but the efforts of two brands stood out. The first was hair care brand Pantene Pro-V. This year, Pantene revived its 2013 #WantThatHair campaign by staging a multi-channel strategy centered on Twitter. In the days leading up to the event, the brand began promoting its hashtag on TV, but it was a vast and varied collection of content designed to engage users on Twitter that made the campaign memorable. Over the course of the Academy Awards, Pantene alternated between photos of celebrity ambassadors like Zooey Deschanel and those of its celebrity stylists putting the finishing touches on stars. Images of beauty bloggers recreating red-carpet hair looks were delivered in tandem with style commentary as celebrities took the stage.

Post-event, Pantene offered up a series of videos that showcased the celebrity hair looks the brand loved best. The clips, which were uploaded to the brand’s YouTube channel, included product recommendations and step-by-step directions to help consumers replicate each hairstyle. Again, the #WantThatHair hashtag was underscored, and images were made to mirror those on Twitter to ensure cross-media consistency.

Interactivity and engagement were also key components of Pantene’s campaign. Throughout the evening the brand invited its Twitter followers to share their favorite looks, as well as vote for the best celebrity hair using real-time social media start-up Wedgies’ online polling tool. Followers could guess which celebrity hairstyle inspired Pantene’s recreations, and were shown before-shot “teasers” to keep them coming back to the feed. Custom branded images of the stars – again featuring the designated hashtag – made for highly sharable content, some of which garnered hundreds of favorites and retweets. Apart from its TV buy, the brand supported the campaign with native content and online sponsorships on beauty blogs like Daily Makeover, along with Promoted Tweets.

Act Natural

Perhaps the most common mistake that brands made on Sunday was trying too hard to insert themselves into the conversation, an approach that almost always comes off as overeager and contrived. Companies clamored to be heard by posting images of their products on a red carpet or attempting to hijack attention (ahem, pizza brands) from those who earned it in their own right.

nasa-flickrtweetArguably, the award for most natural Oscars marketing should go to NASA, which saw a chance to draw attention to its cause in the triumph of the movie Gravity. In addition to posts and videos from astronauts congratulating Gravity‘s team and cast on their seven awards, the organization shared multiple photos from space using hashtag #Gravity in conjunction with its own cleverly crafted hashtag, #RealGravity.

NASA linked on multiple occasions to its owned, existing content, but only when it was appropriate: a Flickr gallery titled “Gravity – NASA’s Real-Life Images From Space” when the movie won for film editing and visual effects; information about the International Space Station’s Acoustic Measurement Program when it took the award for sound mixing. The result was a seemingly effortless campaign that delivered real value to consumers in the context of a relevant cultural event.

In the fight for Twitter supremacy, neither Pantene nor NASA came close to matching Samsung and its selfie buzz. Yet both appealed to their target audiences by delivering useful, interesting, relevant information at a time when it made sense. A brand can do wonders with millions of ad dollars on Oscar night. But a smart Twitter strategy is worth its weight in gold statuettes.

Homepage image via Shutterstock.

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