The 86th Academy Awards took place on March 2, 2014. The event was covered extensively by the international media, and through the latest technology the public were able to participate in a manner never before seen. Overall, the evening was a resounding success and a major boost for the Oscars ceremony.
The 2014 Oscars will, in part, be remembered as the year social media played an integral part to proceedings. Internet users took to Twitter in their millions, whilst host Ellen DeGeneres set new records with her impulsive photography. For any business across the world, it was an example of how to make a marketing campaign work with social media, ingenuity, and creative hard work. Here’s how the Academy Awards did it.
The Oscars 2014
The film industry is a billion dollar world of creativity. According to Box Office Mojo, who track box office revenue, the combined gross of all nine Best Picture-nominated films in the United States and Canada was $645 million. 2013 saw titles such as Gravity, 12 Years a Slave, The Wolf of Wall Street, and American Hustle provide a very high standard — in the process they reinvigorated the movie industry.
Aided by the stellar selection of films, the ceremony scored a big ratings hit. According to Deadline, there were 43.7 million viewers (its best ratings since 2000) — up by 8% on 2013. The 2000 event saw a total of 46.53 million, whilst 2004 proved to be almost as successful with 43.5. Whilst the Oscars, circa 1999, tend to attract around 40 million viewers, some years stand out as anomalies. The worst event in recent years was in 2008, when only 32 million tuned in. There had been a similar dip in 2003 when a mere 33 million watched. In 2013, despite strong viewing figures, the show was criticised for Seth McFarlane’s controversial presenting style, which means the 2014 event will be considered as a means of getting the Oscars back on track in spectacular style. This is what the business world can take from the show’s achievements.
1. The importance of marketing spontaneity
Ellen DeGeneres transported her smartphone around throughout the show. The comedian didn’t hold back from taking pictures of stars and posting them on Twitter, including a selfie taken by Bradley Cooper. You’ll no doubt have seen the image; a beaming Cooper alongside DeGeneres, Meryl Streep, Brad Pitt, Angelina Jolie, Kevin Spacey, and Liza Minelli (who was too short to fit in the image). The picture, when uploaded to Twitter, soon acquired a record million Tweets and promptly crashed the server. Almost a week after the show and it currently holds over 3 million retweets — an effortless World Record.
It has never been more obvious: do things properly and your social media presence will grow exponentially. DeGeneres’ official Twitter account grew in followers 47 times over what she could expect on a normal day. This is a shift from 25.3 million to 26.4 in less than 24 hours. Obviously most of us don’t have A List celebrities around to boost our campaigns, but businesses can focus on creativity and innovation as an effective marketing tool.
2. How to capitalize on an event
Twitter benefited enormously from the Academy Awards. The company was quick to point this out in several official blog posts. In one indicating Twitter’s reach during the show, it was made clear that over a 12-hour period from 5 p.m. to 5 a.m. on March 2, there were 19.1 million Oscar Tweets, from a total of 5 million individuals, totalling more than 37 million over mobile and desktop devices. 43.7 million people watched the Academy Awards, indicating how deeply ingrained social media has become with major events. Twitter went on to state there have been “3.3 billion impressions of #Oscars Tweets” — a major success for their brand.
Twitter’s official statistics display what, and who, received the most attention. A certain selfie topped proceedings, whilst an unexpected pizza delivery (explained below) earned 158,159 Tweets per minute. Gravity’s sixth success at the Oscars came in thirds, whilst Lupita Nyong’o, Jennifer Lawrence, and Brad Pitt were the most Tweeted about stars. Elsewhere, the most popular films proved to be Gravity, Frozen, 12 Years a Slave, Dallas Buyers Club, and The Wolf of Wall Street. Other areas of the show, such as the fashion side, were covered by the Oscar’s official Twitter account: @RedCarpet.
What’s notable is Twitter did very little to promote themselves. It was the enthusiasm of the format’s users which propelled it to the go-to social media tool for the Oscars. Excitement reached its peak courtesy of Ellen DeGeneres, which ultimately crashed the service, but Twitter is unlikely to mind. Through its simplistic digital product the company has created the definitive social media tool for events, and the Oscars proved this in style.
3. Facebook lacks spontaneous appeal
Most internet users turned to Twitter in order to react to events, which left Facebook far behind in Oscar statistics. Its official blog marked the event’s success stories, but the company hasn’t released official statistics regarding user interaction. Although it’s a presumption, it doesn’t seem likely it could compete with Twitter’s ease of use and immediacy. As Twitter stated, its service “is a powerful companion to live events, particularly live television broadcasts, [this] is fortuitous. The product was born on mobile, the vast majority of the Tweets that are shared are public, and information flows in real time. These distinctive product attributes are why so many people were able to experience the Oscars through Twitter.” Facebook lacks a number of these attributes (particularly the public nature of Tweets), and consequently suffers as a “companion” to live events.
4. How to reinvent your brand
Out of all the stars at the Academy Awards, one would have been inconceivable a few years ago. Since 2011, Matthew McConaughey has transformed himself from a generic romantic comedy presence into one of Hollywood’s leading men. After a series of critically acclaimed films, he’s now won an Oscar for Dallas Buyers Club. In terms of career turnarounds, it’s almost unprecedented.
He has revealed his reinvention as an actor began by gathering reviews of his recent performances. He systematically read all of the negative ones, and, as he explains, “There was some really good constructive criticism. I’m like, ‘That’s what I would’ve said about that performance. You’re right.’ ” He then challenged himself with unfamiliar roles, beginning with The Lincoln Lawyer in 2011, Magic Mike and Killer Joe in 2012, Mud in 2013, and now Dallas Buyers Club. It’s a lesson in how to intelligently, and constructively, find your weak points and move onward and upward to greater things.
5. Mistakes are always heavily criticized
There were a number of gaffs during the awards. Leading the list of unfortunates was John Travolta, who made a fumbled attempt at introducing singer Idina Menzel, which he announced as “Adela Dazeem.” The world’s media, and social media users, immediately descended upon the mistake.
Whilst he has since apologised, it has already become notorious. A spoof Twitter account was quickly made (@AdelaDazeem) which has acquired some 20,000 followers at the time of writing, and to add to the continuing ridicule Slate Magazine created “The Adele Dazeem Name Generator” – should you wish to “Travoltify” your name. To avoid similar embarrassment, always make sure you are thoroughly well prepared.
6. Public appeal can work wonders in marketing
Although pre-planned by presenter Ellen DeGeneres, a pizza delivery was ordered for the four hour show. An unknowing Edgar Martirosyan, from Big Mama’s & Papa’s pizzeria in Los Angeles, delivered. He was promptly led centre stage, before handing over the food to stars such as Brad Pitt and Julia Roberts.
The moment was a major crowd-pleaser, especially on Twitter (as mentioned, there were over 158,000 Tweets a minute following the delivery). Mr. Martirosyan has since appeared on Degeneres’ talk show to discuss the dramatic moment. The message for marketers here is: know your customers and promote public appeal. An appropriate campaign can win over many new fans. Free pizza, as witnessed by Brad Pitt’s enthusiasm, also appears to be a big hit.