Tuesday, March 11, 2014

A Marketer's Perspective on This Year's Academy Awards

The Oscars were a blast to watch this year and had of the highest viewer ratings of all time (almost 43 million people). Although the show as a whole was pretty darn entertaining, a few key moments generated a lot of engagement and publicity. Five moments were fun to watch, not only in the moment, but also in the aftermath. Take a look!

1.      Ellen’s Selfie – As you’ve probably already seen, a selfie with several famous stars including Jennifer Lawrence, Kevin spacey, and Meryl Streep (what I wouldn’t give to be in that picture!) has taken over social media! Sunday night, Ellen strolled through the audience and spontaneously decided to take a selfie with Streep when 10 other famous actors hopped in. Ellen talked to the at home audience and dared them to retweet this picture to make it the most retweeted photo ever. Well, it worked… The tweet received 210,000 favorites and 871,000 Retweets (surpassing Mr. President’s “Four More Years” photo with a mere 777,000 RT). The traffic temporarily shut twitter down, rendering an apologetic “our bad” tweet from the academy. This engagement not only created buzz for Ellen and the other actors in the pic, but acted as free publicity for the Oscars, which still had a few hours left in the program. 

2.      Samsung - In addition, you may have noticed Degeneres’ choice of phone; Samsung  Galaxy Note 3, which had plenty of air time as she fiddled with the camera in preparation of the selfie. Not entirely unplanned (Samsung is a sponsor of the Oscars, and apparently that isn’t Ellen’s real phone) but it was still a great awareness play for the brand.

3.      Ellen’s Pizza Surprise – I always knew actors at awards shows were secretly starving. Ellen asked the audience on Sunday if they were hungry, and decided to order pizza from the local chain, Big Mamma’s and Poppa’s Pizza. The lucky delivery man, and part owner Edgar Martirosyan, delivered four pizzas and received a $600 tip collected from the A-list audience. The next day, Ellen brought Martirosyan onto her show and gave him an extra $1000 and even more publicity by distributing pizza to the audience of her show. The aftermath? All of our locations are crazy busy right now …We’re ordering supplies like mad, stocking up on cheese, pepperoni,sausage and boxes and shipping them out to the different stores” part owner Ararat Agakhanyan said in an LA times interview. This just goes to show how far a celebrity endorsement will improve business. 

4.      Coca Cola’s free advertising –This year, Pepsi took over sponsoring the Oscars from Coca-Cola, so understandably Coca-Cola was expected to be out of sight out of mind… until Ellen’s Pizza surprise showed multiple pizza boxes with Coca-Cola logos on them! Whoops. This advertising was not only spontaneous, it was completely free, and gained a lot of attention on social media too – almost 5000 mentions without spending a dime, with Pepsi barely edging them out with just over 5000 mentions. Although this was a wonderful surprise for Coca-Cola, both giants are already so well known that I doubt sales will be affected for either. However, this well timed and well placed (although unintentional) promotion shows how much a little on-air time can cause a stir. 

5.      Frank Underwood/ Kevin Spacey – When two-time academy award winner Kevin Spacey stepped up during the Oscars, nobody was expecting the simple southern drawl of House of Cards character Frank Underwood. It was enough to get the audience engaged, resulting in an OMG moment from Jennifer Lawrence. Although the moment barely lasted 10 seconds, #presidentunderwood was trending on twitter within moments, creating lots of free buzz and publicity for the already popular, newly released season 2 of House of Cards. Although the show is already extremely popular, the simple integration and excited response from the A-List stars might up viewership of the Netflix original series. 

These were five moments that would catch the marketers’ eye. Takeaways show that celebrity endorsement will drive consumers to your business and will create online buzz, which product placement (intentional or not) is still effective. But, if nothing else, this year’s Academy Awards just goes to show that sometimes you just need to be in the right place at the right time!

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