Holy Steve Harvey!
The 89th Academy Awards show is in the books, but it was truly a Hollywood ending. This morning, the cable news and radio morning shows will be talking about the biggest snafu in Oscar history, as an apparent envelope mix-up awarded “Best Picture” honors to favorite “La La Land,” before realizing the mistake and giving it to the real winner, “Moonlight.”
On a night when everyone expected that political rantings would dominate the show, it turned out most of the real statements about the times in which we live were taking place during the commercial breaks. There was ‘breaking news” from a number of brands that say a lot about how they are strategizing their messaging and their marketing goals in 2017 – and beyond.
Second to perhaps only the Super Bowl, marketers now look to the Academy Awards as a mega-opportunity to get their message in front of millions here in the U.S. and around the globe. In a series of one-on-one interviews we’ve been conducting since late last year, we continue to observe the phenomenon that many, many consumers have virtually stopped watching live TV, in favor of prerecorded, on-demand, and streaming programming from services like Netflix, Hulu, and YouTube.
The Super Bowl and the Academy Award are two major exceptions. Most of their viewing takes place in read-time, accompanied by incalculable numbers of posts, tweets, comments, and photos throughout the social media ecosphere. These are tribal events – the first centered on football and the second on movies. And both serve as prime opportunities for marketers to gain mass exposure, wide attention, and media coverage for their efforts. It’s why the Oscars attract about $2 million per ad. It’s a rare chance to have a major impact in 60 seconds. So, given that’s stage, what’s the message marketers are trying to convey?
We blogged about the Super Bowl commercials after the game, observing that many spots that “went political” in some fashion. And since the Patriots’ amazing comeback victory, some brands that chose to shake it up – like Budweiser and Audi – experienced some backlash for their efforts, both on social media and perhaps even in sales.
Last night, that activity intensified as a number of major brands flirted controversy circling around the current events of our time. And in the process, they tried to answer this question:
What does our brand stand for?
Some of last night’s more interesting attempts at changing up the messaging were less about politics (although the references were inescapable), and more to do with a changing society and culture. And in the process, they ended up serving as statements of purpose about what their brands are about and what they mean to people.
The New York Times has been singled out numerous times by the Trump Administration in recent weeks, including assertions that it’s “fake news” and a media institution that’s “an enemy of the people.” Rather than run a TV ad boasting about their great staff, how many years they’ve been in business, or exciting subscription deals, The Times went right for a mission statement.
Their message was unmistakable, and whether you admire or abhor them, there was no question what they were saying about their brand. In the words of marketer Clayton Christensen, The Times laser-beamed the job its readers have hired it to do. Whether you buy it or not, it’s hard to think of a stronger, more powerful statement in a TV ad:
Is this ad a statement about The New York Times or is it about the role of journalism in our society? It certainly isn’t designed to sell newspapers, although a possible effect could be to ramp up support and subscriptions.
But it is all about answering this question:
What does your brand stand for?
The other unmistakably different ad came from Cadillac, a brand that has never really taken much of a stand on anything. “Carry” was a spot that certainly wasn’t selling new cars, especially with those multiple images of classic Caddies and the celebrities who drove them. Once again, this was a spot that did not mention rebates, fuel efficiency ratings, or even Apple CarPlay:
And that was the point. The commercial barely shows the car. The CEO of Cadillac’s agency Publicis Group, Arthur Sadoun, told The New York Times the campaign is an effort to “elevate the brand.”
Jacquelin Sewell who oversees Cadillac dealerships throughout Texas took it further:
“Cadillac realizes that it needs to connect with buyers emotionally.”
And that’s a trend that is becoming more powerful during a time when people from all walks of life are looking for a positive message, and a statement of purpose. Other companies got into the act last night, including Starbucks, GE, Hyatt, and Stella Artois used the Academy Awards show to answer this question:
What does your brand stand for?
Techsurvey13 closes this week, and once again, we’ll be looking closely at that “Why Radio?” pyramid that continues to reinforce the notion that consumers listen to our stations for reasons that transcend format lanes, image statements, and contests.
Those emotional underpinnings – companionship, escape, mood elevation, emergency information – define many of your stations and go a long way toward explaining why so many listeners return week after week.
In an overcrowded media marketplace in an environment of uncertainty and disruption, having a brand that matters isn’t just a good idea for the spring book – it’s part of your long-term effort to survive and thrive. So, answer the question:
What does your brand stand for?
Thanks, Steve Goldstein.
Jacobs Media has consistently walked the walk in the digital space, providing insights and guidance through its well-read national Techsurveys.
In 2008, jacapps was launched - a mobile apps company that has designed and built more than 1,000 apps for both the Apple and Android platforms. In 2013, the DASH Conference was created - a mashup of radio and automotive, designed to foster better understanding of the "connected car" and its impact.
Along with providing the creative and intellectual direction for the company, Fred consults many of Jacobs Media's commercial and public radio clients, in addition to media brands looking to thrive in the rapidly changing tech environment.