In keeping with James Franco and Anne Hathaway's winking debut on Sunday night as the younger, hipper hosts of the 83rd Annual Academy Awards, brands that will be advertising during Sunday night's Super Bowl of cinema will also reach out to younger, digitally savvy audiences.
The biggest tactic, of course: incorporating social media into their campaigns. It makes sense: in terms of ratings, reach, buzz and impact, including watercooler chatter the morning after, the Oscars is still one of the biggest TV and cultural events of the year. And many of those viewers will be plugged-in while watching — even more so than during the Super Bowl.
According to Nielsen, about 13.3% of Oscar viewers toggled between TV and the web last year, a multiscreen viewing experience that rose from 8.7% in 2009. And when you consider that 30-second commercial spots during the Academy Awards this year are going for between $1.7 and $1.8 million, social media is a natural means for brands to build up to and expand on the Oscars conversation.
Brands leveraging social marketing at this year's Oscars include:
• In addition to using the red carpet as a global stage to introduce its rebranding to jcpenney, JCPenney will post fashions feature in its TV commercials on its Facebook page.
• Sprint is sponsoring the live web video stream of celebrities' red-carpet fashions on People.com.
• Kraft's Trident Vitality gum brand is sponsoring a Twitter widget on PerezHilton.com.
• Gilt Groupe worked with MyLikes, a social marketing firm, to plug into blog chatter about the red carpet, with bloggers linking to a Gilt-sponsored site to vote on celebs' fashions.
• LivingSocial, which also ponied up for commercial time at Super Bowl XLV, will be running two commercials according to Forbes, each highlighting the free-to-sign-up social daily deal site's range of offerings.
• Dove, owned by Unilever, is putting a new twist on its previous Oscars campaign that solicited user-created commercials around its body wash products. The brand will kick off the Dove Close-up Challenge in a commercial starring actress Jennie Garth, an online contest that will also promotes its new VisibleCare body wash line.
• Bertolli, another Unilever brand, will run an Oscar commercial based on an online contest with celebrity Chef Rocco DiSpirito and video submissions of a romantic night at home. The winner’s story will be made into a movie.
"Consumers are watching on TV, but they also are chatting with friends about what people are wearing, what movies won and what didn't win," comments Penney CMO Michael Boylson to the Wall Street Journal. "As TV is evolving, we are trying to tap into that. We haven't quite cracked the code yet."
Oscars producers are also trying to use the social allure of nominees and attendees in their favor. In addition to web streaming pre-Oscars events including the traditional nominees' luncheon that was held on Monday, Cohen and Mischer are inviting "mominees" — moms of nominated stars — to tweet on the big night.
"Now, some of your moms may not tweet," says producer Bruce Cohen to Reuters, "but we will teach them how to do that."