Beautiful cinematography wasn’t just for the movies being celebrated at the 89th Academy Awards. It was also for beautiful, groundbreaking ads.
Brands paid top dollar for ads during the 89th Academy Awards, launching innovative new content and multi-channel experiences that rivaled the reigning champion of live TV itself, the Super Bowl. So much so that ESPN analyst Michael Wilbon tweeted:
The Oscars commercials are so much smarter, more creative and at times in touch w the human spirit than the overrated junk Super Bowl ads.
— Michael Wilbon (@RealMikeWilbon) February 27, 2017
But the question remains: With Oscars viewership near its lowest in the past 15 years, why are brands showing up and shelling out?
The short answer is, social media.How Social Media Increased the Value of Oscars Ad BuysClick To Tweet
The rise of online streaming has fragmented television viewership, splitting viewers’ time between cable and the host of online streaming networks like Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon Prime. Furthermore, YouTube already reaches more 18-29 year olds than any cable network in the U.S.
Between these forces, the ability to schedule one’s TV viewing using a DVR, and the rising popularity of “binge-watching” TV, the days of everybody watching the same program at the same time are mostly behind us. Which makes the exceptions to the rule all the more valuable.
In a world where you no longer know when people are watching your ads, the value of a global or national event on scale of the Super Bowl or the Oscars soars. Even though overall viewership has decreased, the Oscars mark a moment for advertisers to reach an engaged, somewhat targeted audience on multiple screens, all at the same time.
Advertisers also took advantage of the second screen, amplifying their content with social media campaigns that grabbed attention and started a national dialogue. With 87% of consumers using a smartphone or tablet while watching TV, more and more advertisers will find ways to dominate the conversation beyond their paid ad through tuned-in, on-trend social media campaigns.
Let’s look at how some of the big winners on Oscars social media used the winners of the silver screen to dominate the second screen:
More a PSA than commercial, Revlon’s newest spot featured Lady Gaga, Pharrell Williams, and Ellen DeGeneres sharing their definitions of love. They instructed viewers at home to share their definition of love with the hashtag #Lovein3words, and 11,279 people obliged that night alone. Posts were fairly evenly distributed between Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook, with trending words that included respect, family, friends, acceptance, compassion, and kindness.
A post shared by Sabrina Carpenter (@sabrinacarpenter) on
Cadillac debuted three new commercials during the Oscars, but the political-yet-feel-good “Carry” generated the most social buzz. They called for people to #daregreatly, showing historical images of American disunity and calling people to come together. The message resonated on social media, with people sharing clips of the ad and calling it “beautiful” and “well done.”
— Vallie Robeson (@RobiWan_) February 27, 2017
“The Truth Is Hard” was the Times’ first Oscars ad ever, not to mention its first TV ad since 2010. The Droga5-produced spot took aim at President Trump, who responded back in his trademark fashion with a tweet:
For first time the failing @nytimes will take an ad (a bad one) to help save its failing reputation. Try reporting accurately & fairly!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) February 26, 2017
The Times spot was part of a multi-channel campaign spanning television, digital, social, outdoor, and print promotions. Perhaps in part due to Trump’s tweet, the ad garnered a good amount of attention on Twitter.
IF the ad costs $2.5M, and a subscriber is worth $500 (they are)–NYTimes needs just 5,000 new subs to pay for it. Ad ain’t goin to fail. https://t.co/RHNPE0kAY5
— Arnon Mishkin (@arnonmishkin) February 26, 2017