Oscar Marketing Predictions

How brands will try to connect with viewers before and during the Academy Awards.

Content Marketing

With a reported price tag of $2 million per 30 seconds of air time and an estimated audience of 43 million viewers, the Oscars are perhaps a smaller scale, but more glamorous version of the Super Bowl for advertisers. In fact, many themes that emerged around the Super Bowl are reappearing as marketers gear up for the 87th Academy Awards on February 22.

What you can expect from brands during the edition of the Oscars? Here’s our preview of Hollywood’s biggest night.

More Puppies

While GoDaddy wasn’t quite as successful this year, the hits just keep on coming for Budweiser and its Super Bowl puppy. And that has perhaps not gone unnoticed by other advertisers.

Real estate brand Coldwell Banker, for example, is rolling out a new 30-second commercial during the Oscars that it says will highlight the moment dog owners come home after a long day and are greeted by their best friends.

The spot, Home’s Best Friend, was posted February 11 and has nearly 700,000 views to date.

According to Coldwell Banker, it features real rescue dogs and “[captures] the immeasurable joy pets bring to our home.”

The ad is tied to a broader partnership with pet adoption website Adopt-a-Pet, the Homes for Dogs Project, which seeks to find homes for 20,000 dogs this year. The brand says it is engaging its network of sales associates to help adoptable dogs find homes through a variety of tactics including hosting adoption days and partnering with local shelters. Additional canine content, including behind-the-scenes footage of the TV spot, is available on the Coldwell Banker website.

This will be the third consecutive year Coldwell Banker has launched a national spot during The Academy Awards.

“Our previous spots have showcased the joy of coming home, so this year it made sense to portray who’s on the other side of the door,” said Sean Blankenship, chief marketing officer for Coldwell Banker, in a release.

More Teasers And Early Releases

It’s now more or less standard practice for Super Bowl advertisers to tease and then release big game spots early. And that’s a trend that seems to be carrying over to other events as well.

“I think that in general, it seems advertisers are trending toward teasing out or leveraging other content from their traditional media buys so the traditional TV commercial works a little harder for them than just a prime-time slot,” says Sarah Neal Simpson, associate director of mobile and social platforms at advertising agency R/GA. “That’s the nature of a more diverse media ecosystem. You want to get more bang for your buck and you want it to last as long as it can.”

General Motors luxury car brand Cadillac, for example, is teasing pre-Oscars content with the hashtag #DareGreatly, which, a rep says, “is an expression of a new identity, values and behavior for Cadillac.”

The brand has posted a 90-second spot on its YouTube page with excerpts from Theodore Roosevelt’s 1910 “Citizenship in a Republic” speech.

“Cadillac’s refreshed marketing communications use it as a central theme, with all Cadillac social media, digital and marketing channels being redesigned in sync,” the rep says, adding the brand will “run a few different spots during the Oscars pre- and live telecast.”

The spots were produced by Publicis.

More Feel-Good Content

A major Super Bowl theme was inspirational content. That included a huge number of advertisers, such as Hyundai, Toyota, Nissan, Dove Men+Care, Microsoft, Coca-Cola and McDonald’s.

According to Matthew Clyde, chief strategist and president at interactive agency Ideas Collide, emotion is how brands spark action in today’s marketing world and that was a clear theme at the Super Bowl this year, which he expects to carry over to the Oscars as well.

American Express, for example, is reportedly rolling out a campaign during the Oscars with inspiring celebrity content and united by the theme #JourneyNeverStops.

The campaign includes spots with writer/actress Mindy Kaling and singer Aretha Franklin and the messaging, “We are all on journeys. The visionaries. The underdogs. The artists. The long shots. The homegrown heroes who make every day a little better. Join us as we follow the stories that will inspire your journey.”

Beauty brand Dove, too, says it is partnering with Twitter on a feel-good initiative meant to “change how beauty is reflected to women on social media.”

According to a press release, the effort, Dove’s #SpeakBeautiful campaign, will encourage women to “realize the role our online words play in impacting our confidence and self-esteem.”

The brand says it will unveil new advertising during the Oscars “to inspire social media change.”

It has also released a #SpeakBeautiful video that says over 5 million negative body image tweets were posted.

As a result, Dove and Twitter say they will encourage women and girls to turn these ugly tweets into beautiful ones using technology that taps Twitter data to identify negative social media conversations about beauty and body image.

“When a negative tweet is posted, the technology will be used by Dove to send non-automated responses to real women, which include constructive and accessible advice to encourage more positive online language and habits,” a release says. “Advice will come directly from social media and self-esteem experts who collaborate with Dove and Twitter to empower women to speak with more confidence, optimism and kindness about beauty online.”

In a statement, Adam Bain, president of revenue at Twitter, said, “Dove has been a leader in supporting women’s self-esteem and body confidence and Twitter is the natural place for that conversation to unfold, especially on the night of a major awards show.”

Echoing the sentiment in Coca-Cola’s #MakeItHappy Super Bowl spot, Jennifer Bremner, director of marketing at Dove, added, “Ideas and opinions about body image are now fluidly shared every second through social feeds and sometimes we do not fully realize the resounding impact of the words in even one post. The power to #SpeakBeautiful is in the hands of us all – we can positively change the way future generations express themselves online.”

More Brand Integrations

Clyde says he expects to see additional product placement this year after Samsung’s major success. In fact, Clyde says he suspects that’s part of the reason the Oscars have tapped hosts like Ellen DeGeneres and Neil Patrick Harris, as they have a lot of social clout and can tie in brands. However, how exactly that happens in the Oscars remains to be seen.

But beyond simple product integration within the broadcast, Clyde also points to fully integrated campaigns that invite consumers to engage beyond the broadcast as well on social networks. In the Super Bowl, that included examples like Squarespace’s Jeff Bridges Sleeping Tapes, the aforementioned #MakeItHappy effort from Coke, and Wix’s supplemental content for its #ItsThatEasy spot.

More Gamification

In previous Super Bowls, brands like Coca-Cola have gamified their spots by asking consumers to help determine the endings. And, for its part, retailer JCPenney is supplementing its Oscars buy with comparable interactive digital content.

JCPenney says it will leverage Oscar fashion to kick off its spring campaign by premiering seven commercials during the broadcast. Featuring fashion sketches brought to life, the spots will highlight the brands found at JCPenney, which has been the official retail sponsor of the Oscars for 14 years.

“Our customer is our muse – she inspires everything we do,” said Deb Berman, chief marketing officer for JCPenney. “We are committed to celebrating her style by showing how we bring fit and fashion together. Through our campaign, we will emphasize JCPenney’s strength in offering styles that fit any shape, size, color, occasion and budget.”

“Our customer is our muse – she inspires everything we do.” - Deb Berman @bermandeb, #CMO,…

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JCPenney is also launching the Lookbook, or what it calls an online source of fashion inspiration. The Tumblr site will launch on February 22 and invite customers to share photos of their personal style using the hashtags #JCPLookbook and #JCPStyle. The brand will also turn some of these images into fashion illustrations of consumers wearing looks from JCPenney’s spring assortment and offer chances for customers to be featured in the Lookbook.

The brand is also inviting customers to play its Oscars Play to Give game, which includes game cards with grids representing potential moments from the red carpet and awards show that players can click on when a corresponding moments happen live. JCPenney says the goal is to tap out as many squares that form a horizontal, vertical or diagonal line to earn points. Players can choose to play individually or as part of group via Facebook or Twitter and can follow their progress throughout the night on a group leaderboard, the brand says.

With more viewers following live events using a second screen, the online game will allow JCPenney to engage with customers throughout the broadcast, the brand says.

More Oscar Moments

The Academy Awards offer opportunities for brands to capitalize on moments, or create their own. Another Oscar advertiser, Disney, brought an Oscar statuette to its Walt Disney World Resort this week to give guests “a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to pose for a photo.”

Calling it the first ever “My Oscar Moment” at Disney’s Hollywood Studios, Disney says guests will be “immersed in all of the star-studded backstage excitement as they walk the red carpet to pose with the Oscar against a signature backdrop similar to the one used with A-list stars on the big night” and notes this photo opportunity is the first that gives fans the chance to pose with an Oscar since, during the Meet the Oscar event in New York.

What do you expect to see from advertisers related to the Oscars broadcast?