Monday, 23 February 2015

The Oscars 2015 – The Superbowl of Product Placement

There’s been a lot of talk in the media recently about the goodie bags that this year’s Oscar nominees are taking away. The estimated worth of each individual bag has ranged at around US$125,000, and allegedly include a range of absurdly expensive luxury personal products, accessories, pre-paid holidays and even a year’s worth of Audi car rental.

Although the bags are not officially endorsed by the Academy, they have remained a part of the annual awards function for many years, and seem to continuously be growing in value. The main reason I wanted to bring them up was that it seems that the Oscars has become as much of a marketing event as the Superbowl. Whereas marketers around the world anticipate viewing the highly publicised ad breaks, it seems that a similar situation is arising within the Oscars, but instead the focus is on product placement within the actual show it self.

The Infamous Oscar’s Selfie taken with a Samsung Galaxy Phone (Source: Tech First Post)

Last year’s function is perhaps the best example of this, with Samsung negotiating the use of it’s Galaxy phones within the actual broadcast of the show, in addition to buying out several ad spots. Perhaps the most memorable moment for the brand (and everyone else who was watching that year) was when host Ellen DeGeneres whipped out the Samsung Galaxy for a seemingly impromptu group ‘selfie’. She then tweeted the picture, which quickly became the most retweeted Tweet of all time, and within 12 hours had amassed around 32.8 million impressions, was seen by 8.1 million people, and was retweeted 2.4 million times (and a year later it currently stands at 3.36 million).

Although it’s unlikely for such a moment to repeat itself within this year’s broadcast, it does leave room for thought as to how brands can continue to make their presence known within one of Hollywood’s most talked about award nights. Many brands do participate on the side-lines by sharing Oscar related commentary on their social media platforms, yet it’s probably quite difficult to actually demand a physical presence at the function without sponsoring the use of their products by celebrity attendees, or like many have done already, offering up freebies to feature in the nominee goodie bags.

As always, my focus will probably remain on the red carpet side of the awards show, but I do look forward to seeing the marketing buzz around the event, and spotting this year’s most visible product placements.

Salil Kumar
Current student in the Master of Marketing program at the University of Sydney Business School

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