Big Brand Advertisers Miss the Red Carpet on Hollywood's Biggest Night
During the Feb. 24 telecast of the Academy Awards, commonly known as the Oscars, brand advertisers certainly had their chance to shine.
However, many appeared to have struggled to take the consumer experience full circle. In our analysis, they did not always stretch their television media buy by integrating commercials with follow-up online interaction. Which is too bad. Today, online integration is an increasingly important component to advertising strategies as consumers naturally gravitate to the Internet to research and make purchasing decisions.
The Dove campaign engaged viewers to go online or text during the awards to vote in its user-generated commercial contest. However, the brand failed to capitalize on the paid search channel. Still, Dove's use of mobile text messaging in addition to online voting was a unique example of interactive campaigns tapping into multiple channels to maximize consumer participation.
Kristina Williams, director of mobile advertising at SendTec commented: “It was refreshing to see a big-brand advertiser utilize mobile as an integrated component of their user-generated content contest. While most advertisers are looking for ways to employ mobile, Dove did a terrific job of leveraging it as a response channel.”
Dove wasn't the only advertiser that didn't capitalize on search efforts. A brief overview of Oscar advertisers can be summarized by saying that while many advertisers attempted, the results were not optimal. This could be attributed to the tight timeline to execute an integrated approach. The key takeaway is that most of the advertisers were leveraging a multichannel strategy, but many just missed the obvious channel: paid search.
Bertolli. The commercial, which featured the chef Rocco DiSpirito making pasta and promoting a contest for consumers to submit videos explaining how to use Bertolli products to create a romantic night in, had a strong call to action to go online, a relevant Web site that was tied to the content of the television spot, and even a sponsored ad on Google for the keyword, "Bertolli." User-generated content is a hot trend among big brand advertisers and this commercial is sure to drive considerable response. The missing link for Bertolli was not advertising on other relevant keywords, such as "pasta," "pasta contest" and "Rocco DiSpirito."
Jaguar. Although sources indicate that Jaguar purchased regional spots during the televised broadcast of the awards, paid search was nationally targeted. Interestingly enough, Jaguar was the only Oscar advertiser found in sponsored search results for “Oscar commercial” and “Academy Award commercial” during the broadcast. While Jaguar advertised a special site, JaguarXF.com, the commercial did not include that Web address. Jaguar's strategy to not include the Web site might seem like a big miss, but the inclusion of an integrated paid search campaign demonstrates that the brand recognizes the need to capture those consumers who naturally turn to the Web.
GMC. This major auto manufacturer appeared to have made the biggest mistake of the evening. The second of its two commercials promoted its crossover vehicle, the Acadia, though this was not supported by a search campaign focusing on the crucial keyword, “crossover,” during the night of the broadcast. It appears that GMC, however, is now bidding on this keyword. According to AutoTrader.com, more than half of all vehicle buyers utilize the Internet to research before making a purchase. Not only did GMC miss out on the opportunity to capture Web response online during the Oscars, just about every other manufacturer of crossover vehicles appeared in the search result pages, including Saturn, Nissan, Chrysler, Ford, Suzuki, Mitsubishi and Mazda.
JCPenney. While the company bid for the theme of its ad spot, American Living, there was no call to action to visit the online store. JCPenney did not bid for any Oscar-related keywords, nor did the television commercial include a Web site. This was surprising since JCPenney has a strong, prominent e-commerce site.
Coca-Cola. Even though the company's commercial highlighted a clear call to action to visit its online site, MyCokeRewards.com, this advertiser did not implement any search engine marketing strategies tied to its support of heart health or the contest to win Heidi Klum's red dress during the live broadcast. However, on the following Monday, MyCokeRewardsRedDress.com did appear on searches for “Heidi Klum red dress.”
According to various reports, the 2008 Oscars had low ratings, entering the record books as the least-watched Oscar telecast to date. While psychopathic serial killers, corrupt oilmen and ruthless attorneys might have turned off many Oscar fans, 32 million viewers is an audience that cannot be ignored.
With an effective multichannel marketing approach and a seamlessly integrated search campaign, advertisers will be able to maximize their dollars in future broadcasts. After all, the next Titanic might be around the corner and pull record audiences for awards such as the more than 55 million viewers it pulled in 1998.
Janel Landis is senior director of search development and strategy at SendTec, a St. Petersburg, Fla.-based multichannel, integrated marketing firm specializing in search engine marketing, direct response television and lead generation. Reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
*This article contains information gleaned from a press release distributed Feb. 25 by SendTec.