This past Sunday’s Academy Awards were long at over three and a half hours, but by all accounts most people came away satisfied – notably, advertisers, fans of host Ellen DeGeneres, who was a marketer’s dream pitch person, and the network, which enjoyed higher than usual ratings.
DeGeneres quickly established that this year’s awards would be less like the usual ceremony and more like a star-studded version of her talk show. She took selfies with celebs, ordered pizza to be distributed among them – there was fun spontaneity.
Or fun product integration, more like. The star-filled selfie was taken with a smartphone made by Samsung, one of the show’s sponsors. Mild oops when Ellen used an iPhone for later selfies backstage, and when Coke came with the pizza – sponsor Pepsi was not amused. But overall, the free-for-all worked: This year’s Academy Awards pulled in a higher viewership of 43.7 million, and sponsors love those eyeballs.
THE PR VERDICT: “B” (Good Show) for Ellen DeGeneres and the Academy Awards.
THE PR TAKEAWAY: Keep both sponsors and viewers in mind. At what point does embedded marketing become obvious, even obnoxious? When it’s not fun. Show producers worked well with advertisers to come up with seemingly impromptu, entertaining ways to spotlight brand names. Not that viewers may even have noticed: A recent Frontline segment showed that young social media users have no idea what the term “selling out” means. Advertisers are moving away from the clunky early days of obvious product integration in movies and TV shows and into an age of clever brand spotlighting.