Not every viewer of the 83rd Annual Academy Awards broadcast was transfixed by the opening of the envelopes. I, for one, found most of the ceremonies less than riveting. But luckily, much like the Super Bowl, the Oscar broadcast is also becoming as much about the commercials as it is about the big show. And this viewer wound up actually looking forward to those ads.
At least, the spots for Hyundai Motor, JC Penney (JCP), Procter & Gamble (PG) and Best Buy (BBY) didn't have the embarrassing patter between hosts James Franco and Anne Hathaway and the awkward appearance of the legendary actor Kirk Douglas. What was the deal with that opening sequence anyway? And Franco in a Marilyn Monroe outfit? Please.
But advertisers are eager to tap into Oscar's huge audience. Last year's show drew 41.3 million, the highest since 2005. Given the popularity of this year's crop of Best Picture nominees, viewership in 2011 should be strong as well. The advertisers weren't trying too hard, though, because many of the commercials previously aired during the Super Bowl. USA Today reported that 30-second Oscar spots were going for $1.75 million.
Some Commercial Highlights
Hyundai, one of the show's biggest advertisers, has used the voiceover talent of Jeff Bridges since 2007. However, Bridges' voice was replaced in the Oscar ads by Justin Bateman because of Bridges' nomination for Best Actor in True Grit. Academy rules forbid nominees from appearing in ads that air during the show. The South Korean car company dubbed itself as "the exclusive automotive sponsor of the 83rd Academy Awards," which seemed strange considering that there also were commercials from BMW and Acura (HMC). Maybe, it was a title earned for volume: Hyundai aired nine spots. Here's one:
JC Penney put on a full-court press for the show. As MediaPost noted, the 109-year-old department-store chain unveiled a new logo for the show. Penney has been the exclusive retail sponsor for the telecast for the past 10 years. This clip contains all of Penney's Oscar ads:
The spots were fairly pedestrian otherwise. Pop star Jennifer Lopez, now an American Idol judge, shimmied for Procter & Gamble's Venus line of women's razors. "Since [P&G] signed Lopez one month ago, its Facebook membership has grown 25%, says Kevin Hochman, marketing chief for the brand," according to USA Today. You won't wonder why when you see this ad, which was released before the broadcast:
And heavy-metal legend Ozzy Osbourne renewed his Super Bowl ad partnership with teen sensation Justin Bieber for Best Buy. The largest consumer electronics retailer's ad allowed YouTube viewers to pick a new ending for the original ad for the Oscars telecast. Here's are the alternative endings:
So, which of the Oscar ads was the best in show? We'll let you decide: Cast your vote in the comments section below.
And the Oscar for Best Commercial Goes to...