THIS year, Madison Avenue seems to be anticipating the Oscars as much as Hollywood.
Advertisers are paying ABC the highest prices since 2008 for commercials during the network’s coverage of the Academy Awards. ABC, part of the Walt Disney Company, charged $1.65 million to $1.8 million for each 30 seconds of commercial time in the broadcast on Sunday; the rate five years ago was $1.7 million.
Demand was the strongest “in over a decade,” said Debbie Richman, senior vice president for prime-time ABC sales, with commercial time, “for all intents and purposes,” sold out.
Also, a recent trend of advertisers treating the Oscars like the Super Bowl — as a platform for prominent new ads that consumers will rave (or rant) about on social media like Facebook and Twitter — seems to be intensifying. Blue-chip brands like Chobani, Grey Poupon, Hyundai, Neutrogena and J. C. Penney plan to show new campaigns or new commercials in continuing campaigns.
“Consumers expect advertisers to come to the Oscars with their A-game,” said Andy McMillin, vice president for Coca-Cola trademark brands at the Coca-Cola North America Group, part of the Coca-Cola Company. For the Diet Coke brand, Mr. McMillin will introduce an American version of a commercial that has generated considerable attention since it was introduced in Europe last month.
The commercial is part of a series that features a “Diet Coke hunk,” which dates to 1994. The European version was created by BETC London, part of the Havas Creative division of Havas.
Perhaps comparisons to the Super Bowl ought not to be surprising because many advertisers consider the Academy Awards “the Super Bowl of the entertainment industry,” said Susan Sweet, general manager for Neutrogena, owned by Johnson & Johnson.
A Neutrogena spot, by Roberts & Langer in New York, part of the Omnicom Group, will be “the first time we’re showcasing our broad product portfolio in one commercial,” she said. The commercial, narrated by Jennifer Garner, presents a new brand theme, that Neutrogena is “recommended by dermatologists two times more than any other brand” of skin-care products.
The Oscars ceremony — broadcast live, like the Golden Globes, the Super Bowl, the Grammys, Nascar races and other so-called big-event television programs that are appointment viewing — is typically the highest-rated entertainment program on television.
Sports programs like the Super Bowl often draw larger audiences, enabling them to command higher ad rates. For instance, each 30-second spot during Super Bowl XLVII on Feb. 3 cost an estimated $3.7 million to $3.8 million.)
For many years, the Academy Awards was heralded as “the Super Bowl for women” until gains among female viewers put the Super Bowl ahead of the Oscars in total women watching. Still, the Academy Awards usually draws the most female viewers of any entertainment show.
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