Five lessons from the Oscars 2011 marketing blitz
And like the Super Bowl, which in the last decade has become an annual marketing event on the level of Christmas, the Oscars are morphing into a major event on the advertising calendar.
According to the Los Angeles Times, broadcaster ABC will sell about $80 million worth of ads during the coverage, up from about $70 million last year.
Big advertisers set to use the ceremony as a platform to launch marketing drives include Hyundai, Best Buy and Living Social, the biggest competitor to group buying pioneer Groupon.
But it's not just big advertisers trying to cash in – some US SMEs are also using the Oscars to try and grab a bit of the hype.
Here are five lessons from the Oscars marketing madness:
1. Leak your campaign
One noticeable trend in the US is the way advertisers are using big events turn their 30-second ads into week-long marketing drives. This Living Social is marking it work. First, you develop the ad. Second, you so some media stories talking about the ad, and the investment you've made. Third, you leak a few sneak previews of your ads (or even the whole thing) on YouTube. Fourth, you show the ad. Lastly, you have some sort of social media element to the ad itself that allows you to talk online for a few days after the big event.
2. Get star struck
At most award ceremonies, the red carpet portion of the evening is almost as important as the prize-giving part, which is why clothing labels, jewellery firms, make-up artists and hair-care companies all want a slice of the action. Australian cosmetics entrepreneur Napoleon Perdis is brilliant as this. He always manages to get publicity for his self-named cosmetics firm by being involved in Oscars' coverage, either as make-up-artists-to-the-stars or a talking head. Even if you can get directly involved in an event, providing some sort of expertise around it is a great way to get noticed.
3. Give it away
Many big advertisers pay millions for a celebrity endorsement, but smaller companies need to take a different approach. A great example is a Winnipeg children's shoe store called Toto n Dot, which paid to be a stallholder at something called the Academy Awards Red Carpet Style Lounge in Los Angeles. The store then gave a pair of imported girls shoe to nominees and former nominees visiting the lounge in the hope that they might end up in magazines around the world on the feet of a celebrity's child. A long shot perhaps, but the payoff would be spectacular.
4. Build an app
Big events are fast-becoming big business for app developers and this year is no different. There are a range of paid apps available for Oscar viewers, including red carpet apps, news apps and an app that allows users to see inside an exclusive after party called the Governor's Ball. It's getting harder to turn a quick buck out of the crowded app market these days, but big events like the Oscars do give developers a chance – provided they have the right content.
There is no better marketing than taking home an actual Oscar. An award helps sell movie tickets, it helps actors get better rolls, it helps producers get more investors. This fact has been underlined by a controversial marketing campaign from actor Melissa Leo, who is nominated for Best Supporting Actress for her role in The Fighter. In recent week, Leo has taken out self-funded advertisements in Hollywood trade publications to try to attract votes. The campaign has been heavily criticised, but if it works Leo could well have the last laugh.