A clear message and a celebrity might not be enough.
Though its ambitions may look more like the Super Bowl, the Oscars would be foolish not to learn from the successes and failures of its fellow award show titan, the Grammys. The show featured some of the most groundbreaking ad campaigns ever aired, and though some may have polarized the public, they left a lasting impression on the 25 million viewers.
After singer David Bowie passed away on January 10th, Lady Gaga teamed up with Intel to celebrate, not only the life of the legendary singer, but also the power of music as it entwines with the potential of technology. Her performance was considered a highlight of the show for many people, but having an Intel ad immediately following it drew criticism for capitalizing on a tragedy. Controversy aside, the campaign’s powerful message won it widespread attention, and with over 56 million followers on Twitter, Lady Gaga appears to have been the perfect partner.
Target took an even bigger gamble when they also sponsored a unique performance with a blonde pop star. To promote her latest single, Gwen Stefani appeared in an unprecedented four minute commercial in which she filmed her music video live. The entire campaign reportedly cost Target $12 million dollars, forcing the question of why they chose her for such a massive event. It has been ten years since she has released a hit single, and initial forecasts for her current effort do not appear very promising. With her Target-exclusive album due in March, only time will tell if the gamble pays off.
Sometimes, it is best to let the message take the foreground. In a collaborative new campaign titled “Music Makes it Home,” Apple and Sonos sought to inspire people with testimonials from the lead performers of St. Vincent, the National, and Run the Jewels. The ad did everything it needed to and nothing more, proving that simplicity often rings the loudest.
With music taking a supporting role to the stars of the big screen on February 28th, it will be fascinating to see which brands take advantage of the opportunity. Hyundai and Coca-Cola, former centerpieces of the Oscars’ commercial breaks, have both decided to sit out on the show this year, but even still the ads are sold out. With each 30-second spot costing nearly $2 million and 62% of viewers being women, the mission for those participating is clear. With a defined message and a relevant celebrity to get it across, the commercials themselves can feel like part of the show.
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