Brands Spend Big for the Oscars Hoping for Prime-Time Engagement

Brands Spend Big for the Oscars Hoping for Prime-Time Engagement

Screenshot 2014-03-06 08.21.2443 million people watched the 86th Annual Academy Awards, but how many of them were engaged with the multitude of brands all shouting at us for attention? That is the question that numerous brand managers and marketing executives are asking right now.

Social media guru Gary Vanderchuk posted a timely video this week (gee, wonder how that happened). He spoke about brands all shouting at consumers during these giant sporting and television events, but staying silent during the times in-between. Why aren’t brands and marketers shouting at us when no one else is? Brands behave like werewolves, only howling when there is a full moon, when they should be like dogs, always going after that bone. While sponsored events are one thing (inevitable during these types of events), the question of effectiveness still remains. Are brands wasting their money when engagement appears to be the same, if not more, from people sitting on the couch at home?

So let’s take a look at some of the statistics around brand engagement. Save for Ellen’s “selfie” in the front row, the trackable hashtags surrounding the aforementioned brand watch parties (in which influential bloggers and social media folk were sat down in a lush, well stocked room, to tweet about the Oscars) show an interesting story that brands might want to pay attention for. We’ll start with Sprint’s “Hello Giggles” party (hashtagged #hgparty).

Sprint’s party peaked a little after 8pm EST and at peak delivered 1,700 tweets to 11mm timelines. Over the four days of tracking, 5,505 tweets were delivered to over 35mm timelines. The most tweeted buzzword was the hashtag #bigfanofred which would lead one to believe that the red carpet was more popular than the awards themselves, unless tweeters were referring to Pink’s dress — but that was outside the peak range.

Vanity Fair’s VFCH (hashtagged #VFCH) party was basically a non-factor, peaking several days before the actual Oscars and their Blogger/Influencer project (hashtagged #vfsocialclub delivered moderate results. Again, shouting into a full room has its own side effects. The account with the biggest reach (over 1mm followers accounting for 2.8mm of the 11mm timeline deliveries) was their own blue check marked Vanity Fair account. Basically, they didn’t need a special event to command that audience. They have it every day of the week.

Meanwhile, Evite’s Awards Party (hashtagged #AwardsParty2014) was barely a blip on the social radar, with a mere 9.4mm impressions over eight days and half the reach of the Vanity Fair party. The real kicker for all the brands came with the hashtag #RedCarpetAtHome, an impromptu mom blogger viewing party that destroyed every other party, brand initiative and sponsored post out there. While the overall reach may have been bigger on the brand stuff (mostly because of celebrities retweeting things that their fans most likely just gloss over anyway and the brands sucking their own smoke), the mom blogger party killed it with timeline deliveries. Over 42mm to be precise, over a two day period. The peak however was earlier in the evening, but that shouldn’t matter when it comes to reach. As far as brands should be concerned, this type of engagement would lead to more confidence with consumers, rather than the blind following of a celebrity.

Brands pay millions of dollars for this “prime time” exposure backed by massive PR campaigns. They get coverage in major outlets for their efforts then what? Get shown up by some last minute bloggers not getting paid by anyone and with the same or better results in engagement and impressions? Brands have got to feel a little bit silly seeing those statistics. Numbers don’t lie, but somehow they are constantly being ignored. So what can brands do to get that true engagement and not just rely on celebrities and their own accounts?

Brian Honigman over at Adknowledge lays out some good points in his analysis of brands social media campaigns during the Academy Awards. One of his points is a major one for brands — ‘Don’t Try Too Hard’. Some of the most successful tweets from brands during the Oscars (or any other event for that matter) are timely and spur of the moment. These brands had quick trigger fingers and were prepared to take advantage of the moment. The ones who planned massive campaigns just seemed like they were presenting stale material. This doesn’t resonate as well in this age of connecting and sharing.

If brands can get this organized and hyper about a giant television event and still get beat by bloggers just deciding on a whim to start tweeting about said event, then why can’t they do this every day? What do you think would happen if a brand decided to hold this kind of initiative in a marketplace that isn’t crowded? If there was one store at the mall, which store do you think you would shop at? That store, that’s which one. Instead, brands choose to wait until Black Friday to start advertising, when they should be doing it all the freaking time. The proof is in the timelines. If brands stopped planning for the next big event on television and started planning for the next big day they want to have, they’d see greater and more effective results.

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