Brandjacking the Academy Awards Via Product Integrations

During the Academy Awards coverage, millions of people log on to their social media accounts and participate in or just eavesdrop on the digital conversations about the event. Many advertisers with paid spots in the TV broadcast design and execute second-screen strategies in an effort to convert social discussion into brand interactions. The competition for online attention is tough because so much of the audience interest and discussion is about the content of the show itself – e.g., the celebrities, the award winners and their acceptance remarks, and the entertainment pieces interspersed through the event.

Against this background, the integration of branded products into the content of the awards ceremony has become a stealth tool for marketers to generate huge levels of exposure and social media interactions and to “brandjack” attention from other sponsors. It’s a limited practice because effectiveness depends in part on the elements of surprise, distinctiveness and being organic rather than obviously commercial.

Recent Academy Awards ceremonies have included these branded product integrations:

  • Samsung (2014) – Host Ellen DeGeneres uses a Samsung phone to take and tweet a record-breaking selfie.
  • Lego (2015) – During a performance of the song “Everything Is Awesome” from The Lego Movie, replicas of the Oscar statue made from Legos were handed out to prominent celebrities in the audience.
  • Girl Scouts of America (2016) – Host Chris Rock helps his daughters’ Girl Scout troop sell cookies to the celebrities in the theater.
  • Junior Mints & Red Vine Candy (2017) – Host Jimmy Kimmel asked the audience if they were hungry and then Red Vines and Junior Mints floated down from the ceiling attached to small white parachutes.
  • Hollywood Starline Tours (2017) – Passengers on a bus tour of Hollywood landmarks got the surprise of their lives when they were brought to the Oscars, led down the aisle and introduced to some of the stars. During the stunt a live video shot of the tour company’s bus appeared on screen for all the world to see.

It remains to be seen whether the 2018 Academy Awards will contain any branded integrations.

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