The Oscar’s Night finished a few hours ago, and the publicity machine around it is spinning now as fast as it can, providing curious people with information about best movies, best dresses and main surprises and comme il fauts of the ceremony. The communication industry has recently realized the massive potential of Academy Awards as well as of others big awarding ceremonies like Emmy, the Golden Globe, Grammy, and others. Millions of TV-viewers and even more Internet users become the ideal target audience for PR campaigns.
The first industry, which discovered the publicity power of such big events was fashion. In “The End of Fashion” Teri Agins in details analyzes the case of Armani, who was the first designer, investing in celebrity endorsement and red carpet events. Since that time everything changed: any fashion house now understands the benefits of dressing up celebrities (and especially nominees) – massive coverage in both traditional and social media drive the sale immediately. In 2017, for instance, one of the best bets was done by Raf Simons, the head designer of Calvin Klein, who dressed the cast of “Moonlight”, the best film of the year. The fashion industry already considered it to be a clever choice for the image, as this issue-driven movie lets to brand build the associations with particular type of films and strengthen the brand image. However, if 30-40 years ago designers decided, if they want to dress anybody, now many brands pay to celebrities and give them crazily expensive dresses as gifts in hope they will wear it for the big night.
“It’s all wrapped up in money — it’s Hollywood — we’re not at church”, – explains celebrity stylist Brandon Maxwell (Weisman, 2015).
The jewelers and beauty industries also followed the red carpet trend, providing the celebrities with jewelry and helping them with styling and make-up. For such support, the companies get a chance to film the backstage and attract millions of wondering viewers with such branded content (Jordan Rost, Allison Mooney, 2015).
Charities and social movements have shown another successful PR use of award ceremonies recently. The previous year the #OscarsSoWhite campaign attracted attention of all major media, with celebrities boycotting the ceremony, supporting people of colour, who underrepresented among the nominees for the main film-industry award. The campaign spread out so quickly and grown up so wide that even the USA President Barack Obama supported it. The motion drew attention to related issues and launched in media the discussion of ‘racism’ in the industry in whole (Cox, 2016). This year the American Civil Liberties Union encouraged the celebrities to wear the blue ribbon for the red carpet as the symbol of their solidarity with the organization, which stays for individual rights and liberties for every citizen of the USA. Vanity Fair (Weaver, 2017) reports that the campaign was launched only one week before the Oscar’s Night, but many celebrities took part and wore the ribbons not only for the main red carpet but also at some other pre-Oscar public events.
The Oscar provides the wide space for brands to promote themselves, starting with celebrities endorsement at the red carpet and going further with digital stunts and unique content and experiences for the fans of the event, which can be produced and sponsored by non-fashion or beauty brands.
“It’s fair to say the window to capitalise on award show fever is wider than ever for brands”, comments James Thomlinson from Bell Pottinger agency (2016). And I can only agree with this statement.
Aly Weisman (2015) Here’s how much celebrities are paid to wear designer dresses on the red carpet. Business Insider UK. Available from http://uk.businessinsider.com/how-much-celebrities-paid-to-wear-dresses-on-red-carpet-2015-6?r=US&IR=T.
David Cox (2016) #OscarsSoWhite: who is really to blame for the Oscars’ lack of diversity? The Guardian. Available from https://www.theguardian.com/film/2016/feb/25/oscarssowhite-right-and-wrong-academy-awards-audience.
Hilary Weaver (2017) Why Stars Are Wearing Blue Ribbons to the Oscars. Vanity Fair. Available from http://www.vanityfair.com/style/2017/02/aclu-ribbons-oscar-red-carpet.
James Thomlinson (2016) Who will win the PR award at this year’s Oscar – brand or consumer? PR Week. Available from http://www.prweek.com/article/1385246/will-win-pr-award-years-oscars-brand-consumer.
Jordan Rost, Allison Mooney (2015). How Marketers Can Win the Oscars. Marketer’s Almanac. Think with Google. Available from https://www.thinkwithgoogle.com/articles/how-marketers-can-win-the-oscars.html.
Teri Agins. (2000). The end of fashion: How marketing changed the clothing industry forever. New York: Quill.