Even the most creative Hollywood writer could not have scripted a more dramatic finale to this year’s Oscars, which held audiences in bated breath till the very end. The blunder will go down in history as one of the most unforgettable moments on live television, an honour usually reserved for red carpet wardrobe malfunctions. Yet despite #EnvelopeGate, these Oscars have defied convention of years past, and gave audiences more than spellbinding mode, music, and movie magic. They provided noteworthy lessons on how to take ‘customers’ in this case audiences… on an epic journey and thrilling experiences without leaving their seats.
Brand Oscar needs no introduction. It is one of the most recognised and celebrated brands in the world. Its brand value can make or break, sometimes tarnish careers if not revered as it should be. It has generated lucrative box office hits, catapulted budding talent into household names (including itself), and spawned multimillion-dollar spin-off categories and services.
Oscar buzz begins long before the nominees are announced. Like any other brand campaign, the contenders nurture and advertise their role, act to reach their target audience before evaluating their overall performance. With a loyal following, strong credentials, and global reach - what makes this brand unique?
1. Breaking New Ground
The Academy Awards have come a long way since the first ceremony in 1929. A private function with 270 people waiting to receive 15 statuettes honouring the world of cinema. The Oscars were the first to market, and today the event is viewed by millions in over 225 countries. As someone once said ‘becoming number one is easier than remaining number one’.
Over the years, this brand has gone through various evolutions to mirror the shifting landscape, preserve artistic integrity to its core proposition and strive to break new ground decade after decade. The 89th Oscars were no exception. Putting ‘the’ red envelope aside, there were some genuine ‘firsts’ that epitomised the Oscar innovative spirit.
Despite the current political backdrop, the 2017 award recipients transcended borders, religion, age, time, and cultural diversity through talent and storytelling - shedding ‘moonlight’ onto some ‘hidden figures’. The Academy also gave first time nods to on-demand studios Netflix and Amazon, who provide convenient solutions and quality content for changing customer lifestyles. Proving that to stay ahead in the market, brands need to constantly evolve and resonate with their audience.
2. Personalised Experience via a ‘Backstage Pass’
Never have the ‘6 degrees of separation’ been more apt then in social media which has given us access to anyone and everyone at the touch of a button in real-time. From your friends, family, business acquaintances, celebrities to world leaders, we can ‘follow’, ‘like’, ‘love’, ‘share, or ‘comment’ on their status.
The Academy members deliver some of the best examples of personalised experiences, giving audiences access to their brand with a virtual ‘backstage pass’. Celebs share their minute by minute, play by play journey to the awards as they build anticipation, draw their audiences in and create an emotional connection. From receiving the invitation, to workout tips, to the designer dress, selfies with the glam squads, and sipping champagne in the limo – these stars are #RedCarpetInstaReady.
A ‘no holds barred’ marketing approach that makes no apologies for its personal content, blatant brand ‘plugs’ and attention grabbing posts, which ultimately fuel the mother brand: The Oscars.
3. Sharing Brand Values on the World’s Stage
With microphone in hand, award season offers the opportunity for recipients to share their gratitude for the ‘honour’, formally thank their personal and professional supporters often with nostalgic remarks on their journey to fame. However, some go ‘off script’ and hijack the stage to voice their political or personal propaganda. The successful ones in getting their values across, such as Meryl Streep who recently went head to head with Donald Trump, understand the fine line between self-indulgence vs. genuine humility.
Communicating values is a necessary part of bringing brand personality to life. Audiences appreciate having a dialogue, transparency of beliefs and provenance that bring people together. The story needs to be authentic, engaging and timely to win over hearts and minds. It’s not about brand marketing, but about brand relevance. In other words, it’s not what you say, but how it’s heard. However, in the case of the #EnvelopeGate what was said and what was heard had an equally resounding impact.
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