And the Oscar Goes To…Advertising!

The Academy Awards were last Sunday, and I think it’s safe to say there were plenty of surprises throughout the night. From the program having no host, to Green Book unexpectedly winning Best Picture, there was plenty to talk over the course of the next few days. Although director Spike Lee supposedly storming out after the Best Picture reveal, and Lady Gaga and Bradley Cooper’s steamy duet made headlines, things that didn’t get as much recognition were the various advertisement campaigns geared specifically towards the Academy Awards audience.

It’s no secret that we are living in an age of recorded television and streaming services, and people have become impatient in general when it comes to sitting through commercials. Much like the Super Bowl, an awards show such as the Oscars are another example of a live televised event people tune in to in real time, and thus present the perfect opportunity to capitalize on viewers’ attention. While the adverts for the program didn’t cost nearly as much as those for the Super Bowl (according to Variety, 30 second advertisement spots for the Oscars cost between $2-3 million), it was very clear through the commercials’ content that they were advertising directly to the Academy Award audience, especially females.

One example of this was with Walmart’s ad campaign. It’s known that fashion and style contribute to some of the Oscar’s biggest moments—both on the red carpet and in the award categories. Walmart, one of the night’s sponsors, seized this night of culture and fashion as an opportunity to advertise their clothing lines, while simultaneously highlighting film crew members and stylists who work endlessly behind the camera to make “movie magic” happen. The various commercials reinforced the idea that if ordinary people such as Julia Roberts’, Rami Malek’s, and Chadwick Boseman’s stylists can be glamorous and creative while wearing Walmart, then you can too!

Another advertisement specifically aimed at women between the awards was a Budweiser commercial featuring Charlize Theron. In the commercial, Theron challenges female stereotypes while drinking her beer in a bar by challenging men to various games (billiards, darts, arm wrestling, etc.). An A-List celebrity, and a beautiful woman at that, was sure to capture and keep the attention of a time-shift-conditioned audience.

Another Academy-specific ad campaign came from Google. The company utilized clips from various iconic movies, such as 2001: A Space Odyssey, Lady Bird, The Hangover Scream, Jerry Maguire, Deadpool etc., and depicted how the scenarios could have played out differently had Google been present in each scene. The commercials assume that viewers of the Oscars are movie buffs, and know enough about the films to understand the references within the commercials.


What do you think? Do you believe the advertising efforts between the awards successfully kept audiences engaged? Did celebrities or those closely associated with celebrities influence your opinion about a product or brand featured? Comment below with your thoughts!

-Audra Bullard