Creative Opinions on The Oscars 2017: A Social Media Monopoly?

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The Oscars are, whilst almost as large a televisual draw as that ‘other’ big event in February, largely free from the burden of expectation when it comes to advertising. The fact is that nobody really talks about the ad breaks of the Academy Awards, even though it’s one of the biggest nights of the year when it comes to sheer audience volume and engagement, something that’s particularly true in the social media age (more on that later). Perhaps it’s because the Super Bowl has famously become something of a competition for adland, where the largest assorted agencies and brands compete for likes and shares by wheeling out their brightest and most audience-pleasing campaigns? Or perhaps it’s because it’s seen as more elitist and ‘specialist’ than the Super Bowl? The real theatre of the whole Super Bowl ad break bonanza has also arguably been lost in recent years, with most major Super Bowl ads being leaked days, and sometimes even weeks prior to the big game.

For the Oscars this Sunday night (February 26), meanwhile, we’ll be going in mostly blind. Does this mean we’ll be seeing more creative and inventive spots, the kind of which would have been deemed too outrageous or ‘not safe enough’ for Super Bowl broadcast? That remains to be seen, but given that most viewers of the Oscars will probably be more open minded when it comes to the craft of cinema than your average Super Bowl viewer, it seems obvious that brands would reserve their more artistically ambitious cuts for the the red carpet. Oscar ad space is also a lot cheaper than Super Bowl ad space, though it’s still the second most expensive spot in adland, with a 30 second spot for the show likely to set brands back anywhere between $1.9 million and $2.0 million (compared to around $5 million for the Super Bowl). And that’s just for the slot! Either way, I personally believe the Super Bowl ads this year were, largely playing it a little too safe, so I’m optimistic that the Oscars might throw us a few more (probably heavily political) curve balls.

The Old Idiot Box

Many younger movie fans with attention spans not built to withstand the 3 hour barrage of smug backslapping that is the Academy Awards will be getting their Oscar news from social media, that almost goes without saying, but does that necessarily mean that TV is irrelevant? Certainly not in my eyes. For one thing, the live Oscars broadcast is the one medium that will still reach more people than any other, particularly with older film fans who would rather sit back with a bottle of wine than hunch over a tablet. Whilst viewership is predicted to be down overall from past years, the Oscars TV broadcast is expected to raise at least the equal of the $115 million in ad revenue raised last year. There are also more commercial spots than ever before. Last year, the awards opened up to 80 commercials, up a quarter from 2012 where there were 60, hinting that demand is up, even if the same cannot be said of ratings. Growing to meet demand, the Oscars offers 45% more network ad time than it did in five years and the top spenders can blow tens of millions on making their brand stand out amongst the glitz and the glamour and the tears and tiaras. So no. Traditional TV advertising is still alive and well, but that doesn’t mean it can’t learn a thing or two from it’s younger cousin.

Social Media and the Oscars 2017

Ignoring, for a second, how social media has changed the way we absorb, share and engage with content like the Oscars (my industry insiders will go into more detail on that later), many companies are using social media as a tool to promote their brand or their services in unique, interesting ways that leverage our fascination with the event and its nominees. Betting site Mr Gamez, for example, has created an infographic (see the bottom of the article) looking at the previous Oscar winners of the last 20 years, building a profile of the frontrunners in each category. From the winner’s height and hair colour, to the average running time of the best film winners, they have predicted the best match from this year’s nominees, according to these profiles. The results appear to align with what almost everyone other industry has been saying, proving that statistics rarely lie, but that they also often take the fun out of events like this.

The design team at Shutterstock, meanwhile, have chosen to take a more oblique route by commemorating the genius of the late Andy Warhol. They have done this by, rather ingeniously, creating posters for each of this year’s Best Picture nominees in the style of a particular pop artist, pop art being the movement that Warhol arguably kickstarted. It is an annual tradition for Shutterstock’s design team to challenge each other to create posters following the rules and aesthetic of a particular designer or design movement, but this year the stars appear to have aligned, as the results (above) are truly sensational!

With Hollywood under the microscope, every facet of the ceremony and its inhabitants is studied over in immense detail, even down to the colour co-ordination. The digital marketing experts at Search Laboratory have commissioned a report examining “What Colour is an Academy Award Winning Dress?” in order to underline this fascination with Oscar dresses. The results (above) seems to suggest that, whilst colours have been getting bolder over the last 50 years, the most common colour is a sort of muted brown, and also that, in general, black is always a safe bet. Note that the colour chart only refers to female award winners, however, with the blokes, as ever, happy to continue getting away with the standard suit and tie. I could easily dovetail here into a spiel about the double-standards still inflicted upon women at the Oscars, but this is neither the time, nor the place. We’re talking data here, not revolution.

Social media will also play its part in predicting the big winners of the night, with Twitter and Facebook natter helping to paint a surprisingly scientific picture of the most popular nominees. YouTube has gone a step further by ranking the most popular Oscar movie trailers, democratising the vote, if it was decided by how many people tuned in to the trailer. Google’s video platform compared the performance of the nine Best Picture nominated movies, La La Land, Arrival, Hacksaw Ridge, Lion, Fences, Hidden Figures, Manchester By The Sea, Moonlight and finally Hell or High Water. Accumulatively across YouTube, the Best Picture nominees garnered three million hours of viewing time, not bad for short video teasers. Whether the amount of trailer views genuinely aligns with trophy wins remains to be seen, but the very fact that people are taking it seriously speaks volumes. Anyway, if you wish to psyche yourself up for Sunday night, you can find the trailers, from most viewed to least, below.

Creative Opinions

Rob Kabrovski, VP of Accounts, EMEA from Adaptly, offers a few suggestions for brands hoping to jump on the Oscars ‘cord-cutters’ bandwagon and focus their efforts on social media .

Last year’s Oscars and Grammys drew a combined audience of over 58 million, but total TV viewership dropped as more would-be viewers became so called, “cord-cutters”. Social media engagement, however, increased year-over-year, indicating that fans consumed awards season content from sources other than TV. Last year, the Oscars generated 3.9 billion Twitter impressions and 67 million Facebook interactions, up 5 and 15%, respectively. With more of the videos and conversations buzzing on social media, brands are wise to include these channels in this year’s Oscars advertising strategy.

  • Join in on the fun by focusing your paid social messaging around the nominated actors and movies that will resonate most with your brand’s target audience.
  • Use paid social as an extension of advertising efforts on other channels. If you are also running ads on TV, be sure to maintain brand consistency across platforms to convey one cohesive message.
  • Viewers of the Oscars will most likely be engaging with social media on their smartphones, so design creative with the mobile experience in mind. That means vertical video, shorter attention spans, and sound off for Facebook and Instagram.
  • Twitter’s event and keyword targeting allows advertisers to leverage the buzz and conversation around the Oscars to reach audiences interested in the show. Tap into real-time conversations around the event and be prepared to respond to your audience when they engage with your content.
  • Users will be Snapchatting their viewing parties and following their favourite celebrities for behind-the-scenes content, so placing Snap Ads between user Stories is a great way for brands to be seen and become a part of the Oscars experience.

For the full article and remaining creative opinions, see Creativepool.