The Oscars 2013 ads: A welcome distraction from Seth MacFarlane
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The Oscars 2013 ads: A welcome distraction from Seth MacFarlane

New York City : NY : USA | Feb 25, 2013 at 7:06 AM PST
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While the 85th Academy Awards will be remembered in part for a few glorious moments like Daniel Day-Lewis becoming the first person to win three Best Actor Oscars, Best Actress winner Jennifer Lawrence tripping en route to collect her statuette and first lady Michelle Obama’s glittering appearance, the show is likely to be ingrained in most people’s minds as being an awkward and tiresome performance that featured a mostly unfunny Seth MacFarlane as host.

With the likes of MacFarlane (and let’s not forget Kristin Chenoweth’s stint during the red carpet portion of the telecast) grating on people’s nerves, one almost hoped for exciting commercials that would interrupt the banality of the Oscars telecast. The ads didn’t disappoint in that respect—they weren’t great, but they were certainly a welcome distraction.

While there were big brands showcased, the ads themselves were nothing much to talk about. Advertisers had paid a lot of money to secure those commercial spots during the Academy Awards telecast—reports claim that ABC had sold 30-second spots for prices ranging from $1.6 million to $1.8 million, the highest prices they have received since 2008.

But, much like the Super Bowl ads, the amount of money spent didn’t seem to be proportional to the creativity of most of the ads themselves. But credit must be given where it’s due, and it must be said that the ads, while certainly not memorable, were infinitely superior to MacFarlane’s musical ditty on female nudity in Hollywood.

Samsung had bought six spots during the Oscars telecast, and each spot was an episode in their “Unicorn Apocalypse” narrative. Between featuring Hollywood director Tim Burton and promoting Samsung’s SAFE technology for work, the ads were also able to make subtle digs at smartphone rivals Blackberry and the iPhone.

Coca Cola seemed to have learned from their debacle at the Super Bowl by putting out better commercials for the Oscars, of which two stood out. One was a tribute to the film industry as part of their “Stay Extraordinary” campaign, while the other featured a shirtless Andrew Cooper, which was maybe targeting the largely female audience for the Academy Awards.

JC Penney was another of the night’s advertising notables, with their bunch of feel-good commercials addressed to the “dreamers” of America. Given their rocky financial situation, one can only hope that their target audience will respond to the retailer’s messages and help the company get out of the red.

Other honorable mentions in the Oscars night advertising blitz include McDonald’s for their “Lucky Penny” spot, Hyundai with their “Elevator Pitch” commercial, Grey Poupon making a reappearance with their “Pardon Me” series and an American Express spot, which brought back attention to the brand’s Small Business Saturday initiative.

Note that all of the ads shown during the Oscars were neither eye-popping nor wildly emotional—they were, to use a more colloquial term, meh. But when given an option to choose between one of MacFarlane’s cringe-worthy jokes and any of the mild-mannered ads shown during the ceremony, it’s easy to see why the scales are tipped in favor of the latter.

This article is part of Allvoices’ series on ad:tech, the largest, longest-running digital marketing and technology event. Check out allvoices.com/adtech for more of Allvoices’ ad:tech coverage. This series is supported by ad:tech.

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An Oscar statue is pictured at the Governors Ball for the 85th Academy Awards in Hollywood, California February 24, 2013. Credit: Reuters/ LUCAS JACKSON
Aby Sam Thomas is based in New York, New York, United States of America, and is an Anchor on Allvoices.
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