The 86th Academy Awards may seem to have nothing in common with the Super Bowl or the Olympics, but for marketers, all of these shows offer the chance to reach a large market through what's known as "appointment TV."
When Ellen DeGeneres opens the 2014 Oscars, she’ll be hosting the final event of this year’s appointment TV season. That label is given to televised events so popular they are broadcast live to a huge global audience.
As regular TV viewership declines and DVRs let viewers skip over the ads, live events such as the Oscars are almost always watched in real time, so commercials can’t be fast-forwarded.
Between Jan. 12 and March 2, U.S. marketers will have poured $1.5 billion into seven major TV events, including the Golden Globes, Grammys, Super Bowl, Winter Olympics and Academy Awards.
Appointment TV is such a hot commodity for marketers, they’ll spend a fortune to be in such shows and try almost anything to create massive buzz.
A Chevrolet ad that may run during the Oscars is one of many entries in a global contest to capture a "significant human moment" taking place in a Chevrolet. The winning ad will run during the awards telecast.
In another Oscar ad, MasterCard signed Justin Timberlake to surprise contestants who entered a contest on Twitter. Building social media right into the concept makes the ad more interactive and keeps consumers engaged well beyond the few seconds of the commercial itself.
Another key component of appointment TV is that marketers make an effort to be extra creative and often customize ads to the specific show. Coldwell Banker chose a Motley Crue song specifically for an ad to run during the Grammys.
And for this year’s Oscars, Coldwell Banker will reinforce the Hollywood theme by using Tom Selleck for the voiceover.
Interestingly, some longtime Oscar sponsors such as Hyundai and Coke will be absent from this year’s show. The risk of advertising in appointment TV is that among all the flights of creative fancy, your ad may not stand out.
And even if marketers do manage to catch attention with a wildly imaginative Oscar commercial, such moments may not reflect the reality of their product and simply leave viewers smiling at the idea while forgetting the brand.