I know I’m not alone when I say I have a date with my TV this Sunday to watch the Academy Awards on ABC. I’ll be glued to my screen as the beautiful Natalie Portman feigns surprise when she wins the Oscar for Best Actress, and I’ll be on the edge of my seat to see what kind of recognition The Social Network receives.
Interestingly enough, this year’s Oscar nominated film The Social Network isn’t just one of the 10 films nominated for best picture– it’s the theme that binds each of the more than 20 advertisers in their respective media strategies. M&M, Best Buy, JC Penny and
livingsocial.com are among this year’s sponsors using social media sites like Facebook, YouTube and Twitter as the driving forces behind their advertising campaigns and the commercials they air during the award show. ABC is even breaking into the social media scene, with content on a web site, oscar.com, presented by sponsors like Hyundai.
For each of these sponsors, the goal this year is simple–to generate consumer conversations and buzz before, during and after each uttering of the words, “And the winner is,” in the most effective way possible.
According to Debra A. Sandler, Chief Consumer Officer at the Mars Chocolate North America unit of Mars, which will run a commercial for M&M’s during the broadcast, “The Academy Awards has become a pop culture moment that brings people together, especially over social media…[and] Part of our overarching strategy is to ensure M&M’s are present wherever and whenever people connect”.
It’s clear these sponsors have their finger on the pulse of the changing media landscape, especially in the live, big event shows like the Super Bowl, the Oscars and the Grammys, which viewers increasingly choose to watch in real time rather than delayed via a DVR. In fact, according to Nielson Co., last year 13.3% of Academy Awards viewers spent time on the web while watching the show, up from 8.7% in 2009. The top sites consumers visited include Facebook.com, Google.com and Yahoo.com.
LivingSocial, an online company that offers a deal a day with discounts of up to 90% at local restaurants, bars, spas and more is running two commercials during the Oscars that urge viewers to sign up at livingsocial.com “to get daily deals in your town,” while promoting the event on their Web site, Facebook page, in the blogosphere and on Twitter”.
The efforts of all of the Oscar sponsors are clearly indicative of an understanding by advertisers that viewers aren’t just sitting and watching passively anymore. If fact, during key moments of the Super Bowl last year, Twitter noticed that 30% of its messages were related to the game.
Perhaps David Scacco, Chief Revenue Officer at MyLikes Inc., a social-media advertising company that brokered an Oscar’s campaign for “flash sale” fashion site Gilt Groupe, said it best when he explained that, “People are turning to each other and social media for context…[and companies] want to be part of that conversation, not on the periphery”. We’ll just have to wait and see how these social media strategies work out for this year’s sponsors. I’ll be sure to check my twitter feed to catch the latest.