Advertisement
YOU ARE HERE: LAT HomeCollectionsAdvertising

Oscar ad rates push the envelope

Companies plunk down $1.7 million for each 30-second spot, an Academy Award record.

February 23, 2007|Meg James | Times Staff Writer

The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences and ABC would like to thank General Motors, Bank of America, J.C. Penney and many others for shelling out $1.7 million for every 30-second spot they bought in Sunday's Oscar telecast.

These advertisers also feel as if they've got a piece of the gold: The 79th annual Academy Awards will probably be one of the largest and most prestigious television events of the year, with an expected audience of more than 40 million viewers.

The show is also one of the increasingly few events with enough built-in suspense for most viewers to watch in real time, rather than digitally record the show so they can zip past the ads.

That's one reason advertisers are willing to pay an Oscar record price for a 30-second spot, an uptick from last year's $1.6 million, despite a droop in the show's ratings in recent years.

"This is an event that more people are apt to watch live," said Anne Finucane, chief marketing officer for Bank of America. "There is a rush in seeing the outcome" of who wins the various awards, she said.

Not all advertisements are welcome. The academy forbids any ads for movies because it wants to avoid even the appearance of a conflict of interest. Also barred are commercials that feature participants in the Oscar telecast, including presenters and nominees. American Express Co. won't be airing its commercials starring Ellen DeGeneres during the broadcast because she is the emcee of this year's show.

Madison Avenue loves the glamour and the stories that come out of the Oscars. Adding to the show's appeal this year is the range of Oscar nominees, from well-known stars such as Clint Eastwood and Leonardo DiCaprio to Jennifer Hudson, who went from obscurity to front-runner in the race for best supporting actress for her role in "Dreamgirls."

"The films this year are particularly interesting," Finucane said .

"You have young and very seasoned actors, total newcomers and well-known veterans. There's so much diversity. It is an ideal setting for us."

Another big selling point is the show's huge appeal among women. The show typically brings in the largest TV audience of women for the year. That has led the event to be dubbed the "Super Bowl for Women."

That's a key selling point for advertisers such as J.C. Penney Co., beauty product maker L'Oreal and even automotive giant General Motors Corp. Each of the three paid to be the exclusive advertiser in its particular category, locking out its rivals from the show.

GM, which has been advertising in the Oscars since 1989, bought three 30-second spots this year to promote its Cadillac line and two 60-second spots, including one for its Saturn line.

"Women actually have more influence on the purchase of a vehicle than men do," said Ryndee Carney, GM's manager of advertising communications.

Several of this year's advertisers are using the Oscar telecast to introduce products, services or marketing campaigns. Bank of America Corp. picked the Oscars to mark its return to prime-time network advertising and launch its marketing campaign, "Bank of Opportunity."

MasterCard has produced a 60-second ad, directed by Hollywood's Jim Sheridan, to introduce PayPass, which allows credit card holders to make purchases for under $25 without a signature.

And J.C. Penney, which is making its sixth consecutive appearance in the Oscars, is thrilled with the date of the show, which moved up this year from early March.

"The timing works out perfectly for us," said Mike Boylson, chief marketing officer for J.C. Penney. "Our stores are stocked with fresh spring merchandise. It's amazing how many customers come into stores and ask for a dress that they saw advertised on the Oscars."

The company considers being in the Oscars a coup. "Next to the Super Bowl, it is the biggest stage out there for advertisers," he said.

In some ways, advertisers said, the awards can provide a less frenetic atmosphere than the Super Bowl, which often becomes a game of one-upmanship among marketers competing to present clever ads -- often at the expense of a product.

"I'm not jousting for attention," Bank of America's Finucane said. "We are looking to launch and sustain a brand and have a serious dialogue with our customers. This was a better opportunity."

meg.james@latimes.com

Advertisement
Los Angeles Times Articles
|
|
|