While the angst level is high going into Sunday’s Academy Awards given overall viewership trends, Disney Advertising Sales says it has sold out ad inventory for the telecast.
While the company did not divulge any rate information or financials as reports circulate of significant declines, people familiar with negotiations said ABC has sought $2 million per 30-second spot. That’s below the $2.15 million estimated by Kantar Media in 2020. Total ad revenue, per Kantar, was $129 million last year, plus another $21 million for red-carpet pre-show programming.
Disney’s announcement promised “a broad range of categories and new ad formats.” The show will be based in two primary sites — the Dolby Theatre in Hollywood and Union Station in downtown LA — with an emphasis on live elements and an overall Zoom-free night. Past awards shows have seen their ratings plunge, in part due to the alienating nature of the broadcasts, but in Oscar’s case an additional headache is the closure of most U.S. movie theaters for the past year.
The Motion Picture Academy shifted the normal February date back two months and also lifted the usual theatrical requirement for nominees.
“We’re proud of the advancements and flexibility the Academy and our production team are implementing to make this an unforgettable event. We have a star-studded lineup and a unique, in-person show,” said Rita Ferro, president of Disney Advertising Sales. “The later date of the event allows consumers even more time to view the nominated films, than in year’s past, in the comfort of their homes. It’s also paved the way for even more activations and enabled us to expand our ad offering for sponsors – across linear, digital and social – pre- and post-show.”
For the first time on the Oscars, talent from various upcoming films will share their favorite movie theater experience and introduce their latest film, Disney’s announcement said. That setup will be followed by the movie’s trailer running adjacent to the broadcast. The format will emphasize a key theme of the overall effort by Disney and the Academy, which are long-term partners in the Oscars: the return of the in-person movie-going experience.
Categories this year include apparel, auto, beverage, consumer packaged goods, entertainment, financial services, healthcare, insurance, luxury spirits, media & entertainment, pet care, pharmaceutical, retail, streaming, technology, telecom and tourism.
Verizon is returning for its fourth straight year. Other advertisers include Google, General Motors and Rolex. Along with a number of Disney’s network and studio brands with a presence, Apple and Warner Bros have bought time.
“The Oscars is entertainment’s destination for breakthrough, innovative marketers to showcase some of their best and most creative storytelling and marketing campaigns,” said Jerry Daniello, SVP of Entertainment Brand Solutions. “It is an important driver of cultural moments, and this year in particular – with the number of Black and Brown talent and diverse stories acknowledged – its impact and significance will carry on beyond the show.”
Verizon is back for its fourth consecutive Oscar telecast. In an interview with Deadline, Chief Creative Officer Andrew McKechnie said the company will have six spots during the telecast, all showcasing its 5G technology.
Even though there are exceedingly downbeat predictions about the show’s ratings, McKechnie said it was still valuable real estate. The telecom giant, whose broadband and wireless businesses saw an uptick in activity during the pandemic, has remained committed to advertising on live events like the Super Bowl and the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. The Oscars, while they aren’t as massive as they once were, are still in rare air when it comes to tune-in.
“The show continues to draw significant viewership,” McKechnie said. “It still brings in more viewers than any other entertainment special, so it is definitely important to us.”
In announcing the sellout, Disney emphasized the effectiveness of the Oscars as a showcase for brands. Ads during the Academy Awards, the company said, outperformed other award show ads with 25% greater message memorability scores. Oscar ad campaigns with digital components saw 18% increases in reach on average, while those with social media elements saw reach rise by 10%.
While the overnight Nielsen story is unlikely to be rosy, Disney also positioned the Oscars as a social media phenomenon. Last year’s Parasite-topped event was the top social happening with 20.6 million total interactions, up 16% from the 2019 telecast.