Despite last-minute excitement Super Bowl LI and the 2017 Oscars displayed, it’s evident traditionally pinnacle television events are not strongly impacting young audiences.
With a 4% viewership drop from 2016, the 2017 Oscars experienced its third consecutive viewership decline, marking 32.9 million viewers as the second lowest Nielsen viewership since 1974. The ABC broadcast continued the trend of low millennial appeal, bringing a 9.1 rating in comparison to 2016’s 10.5 rating in the advertiser-friendly 18-49 demographic.
Ratings may not tell the show’s entire story. This year’s show accrued a reported $115 million in ad revenue, likely to be the most lucrative entertainment event all year.
Largely, this is thanks to socially relevant personalized messages and strong celebrity influence in key Oscar associated brands.
Host Jimmy Kimmel did an incredible job of appealing to a younger demographic using social media. Echoing Meryl Streep’s Golden Globe political stance, Kimmel effectively live-tweeted President Trump, including “#MerylSaysHi”. This unexpected political and celebrity interaction stirred over 1.37 million responses via Twitter. This interaction was instant and memorable.
Kimmel also added an experiential event by inviting a group of unsuspecting Hollywood tourists to the ceremony, nearly crashing Twitter with tweets about a goofy tourist from Chicago named Gary. Unanticipated events, when paired with the right social influencers, brought millennials and Gen Zers to brands surrounding the show.
The political message spots such as the New York Times’ “The Truth is Hard” or Hyatt’s “For A World of Understanding” mirrored the active social voice of the show very effectively. According to a Brandwatch report, peak social media mentions came at the time when social issues were discussed during Viola Davis and Gael Garcia’s speeches.
However, being political doesn’t always define brand success, nor does it have to.
For high end brands who align with the affluent viewer base of the Oscars, it is important to have a strong celebrity influence within the brand’s message. Rolex, the official sponsor of the 2017 ceremony, implemented an impressive array of Hollywood icons into their one-minute spot “Celebrating Cinema”. The one-minute spot coincidentally featured the late Bill Paxton, triggering an immense amount of unanticipated brand awareness. This surprise appearance created a flood of positive social media responses, proving that timely nostalgia is a powerful theme with the Oscar viewer base.
The traditional means in which showcase events appeal to their expansive viewer base is evolving. No longer can traditional television be the bottom line goal. As seen in the Super Bowl’s first ever live ad spot and the Oscar’s live-tweeting frenzy, younger audiences appreciate an experience above all else.
That personalized experience is truly memorable when spontaneity and celebrity influence can effortlessly combine.
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