The golden statuettes weren’t the only prizes at Sunday night’s Academy Awards ceremony.
As viewers’ eyes fixed upon the attendees, presenters and winners, several marketing moments grabbed attention, as well.
A night to long remember. #2019OscarsIn5Words
— The Academy (@TheAcademy) February 25, 2019
Consider two key takeaways from brand managers who netted gold of their own:
1. Focus on storytelling.
Though viewer numbers for the Academy Awards are dwindling, many marketers still delivered commercial spots to get brand messages in front of consumers.
… Walt Disney’s ABC TV network, which is broadcasting the Oscars, will earn a tidy profit on the sales of commercials, which have fetched a record-high $2.6 million this year. That is a 23% increase from the $2.11 million the 30-second spots went for in 2018, according to Kantar Media.
… “The Super Bowl is over. It’s mid-February,” Jeff Greenfield, chief operating officer of C3 Metrics, a media measurement company, said in an interview. “I am Walmart. My competitor is Amazon. Where can I go and compete against Amazon on what is essentially a global stage and get reach today? It’s the Oscars. … For a brand like a Walmart, they have to be there.”
To ensure their messages resonated with viewers, many marketers adapted their ads to the evening’s theme, with some focusing on films, highlighting the crew behind films or using Oscar-winning celebrities.
On Feb. 22, Google published its Academy Awards ad on YouTube, where it has already accrued more than 23.5 million views. Its popularity probably stems in part from the many film references spliced throughout the commercial:
Retail giant Walmart, an official sponsor of this year’s Oscars, took a different approach to glamour. The brand focused on six of Hollywood’s most renowned stylists and the looks they created for those working in the industry behind the scenes, with the key to those looks available to purchase during the show on Walmart’s website.
Here’s one spot:
Budweiser’s ad featured Charlize Theron and was scripted similarly to her action films:
At a time when more viewers have grown accustomed to skipping past commercials with time-shifting technology or not having to encounter them on subscription streaming services like Netflix, Madison Avenue has come under new pressure to devise ads that give consumer more of the content they came to see and less of the annoying, interrupting messages that get in the way of that entertainment. ABC encouraged sponsors to not only launch new commercials that haven’t been seen ad infinitum, but to work to make the ads carry elements of the awards ceremony itself to play off what drew viewers to the broadcast in the first place. “Sparking moments like that adds to the overall viewing experience,” says Jerry Daniello, senior vice president of entertainment brand solutions for Disney Advertising Sales, in an interview.
Use storytelling to your advantage and boost your marketing messages by adapting promotions and content to fit trends, current themes and conversations, or breaking news.
2. Be ready for the chance to bring out your best.
The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences presented several awards last night, but one company clinched the nod in the Unexpected Product Placement category (not an actual thing, by the way).
Maya Rudolph, Tina Fey, and Amy Poehler came out to present the first award of the night, for Best Supporting Actress (the honor went to Regina King, for If Beale Street Could Talk), but they started with a series of quips about the host-free ceremony.
“So just a quick update, in case you’re confused: There is no host tonight,” Rudolph said. “There won’t be a popular movie category. And Mexico is not paying for the wall.”
“And we won’t be doing awards during the commercials, but we will be presenting commercials during the awards,” Poehler continued. “So if all the winners could please say, ‘Hellman’s Mayonnaise: We’re on the side of food,’ instead of speeches, that would be great.”
Hellmann’s social media manager swiftly jumped in to tweet a “thank you” to Poehler, promising the comedian a lifetime supply of its product:
— Hellmann's (@Hellmanns) February 25, 2019
If you’re not lucky enough to get a celebrity endorsement during an award show, you can still take advantage of popular news, events and trends through newsjacking or creating complementary content to entice consumers.
Take, for example, digital news service Circa, which crafted a quiz to find out which award best fits your personality:
— Circa (@Circa) February 25, 2019
Step away from shouting your marketing messages and product launches. Instead, focus on sharing content with your audience that can prove useful or entertaining—and you’ll grab attention, to boot.