THE BIG PITCH: Which Academy Award winner owes the most to a goodPR campaign?


Independent Publicist

Steven Soderbergh for Best Director. All the PR and pre-Oscars buzz

surrounding him portrayed Soderbergh as an auteur and a craftsman with

his work on Traffic, not necessarily about the content of the movie

itself, which some thought had a somewhat controversial message. All the

media coverage focused on the filming in Mexico and the look of each

different segment in the montage. Also, whether it was his publicist or

the studio, somebody chose to position the campaign around only one of

his two movies up for awards. To focus on both Traffic and Erin

Brockovich might have split the vote. For example, look what happened

with Almost Famous, where both Kate Hudson and Frances Dormand were

nominated for Best Supporting Actress, and the award went to Marcia Gay

Harden instead.



Magnet Communications

Julia Roberts' Oscar win confirmed her ascent to Hollywood royalty and

was preceded by a public relations campaign that outdid any other in her

category (Best Actress) or, for that matter, any category. Benefiting

from a multitiered campaign, the dollars 20 million-a-film actress was

placed front and center by the Universal Studios and Columbia Pictures

PR teams who exploited several advantages: 1. Roberts' status as

Hollywood's best-paid actress; 2. her much-publicized affair with

heartthrob-turned-boyfriend Benjamin Bratt and 3. the rising celebrity

of the real Erin Brockovich.

Roberts is also known as a savvy marketer and enthusiastic hawker of her

films and these traits were put to great use by the movie's


The accumulation of multiple magazine covers and broadcast interviews

stopped short of potential career-threatening overexposure and actually

polished Julia's reputation as Hollywood's Cinderella.



Big Fish Marketing

It's no surprise that Julia Roberts was seen clutching Oscar at the

Academy Awards. More than her spectacular performance, she won for her

position as one of Hollywood's most treasured brands. Practicing what I

call the 'holy trinity of branding,' Julia is consistent, clear and

authentic in all her actions and words ... making her a winner in

anyone's book. Her brand stood solid right up to the Academy Awards with

the well-calculated release of Erin Brockovich on home video and the

theatrical opening of The Mexican. This double-whammy of publicity and

advertising insured that billboards made a show where the

decision-makers lived. She was seen on every national talk show grinning

her way into everyone's heart. Trade ads and Internet buzz added to the

excitement. The combination was simply unbeatable.



Edelman Public Relations Worldwide

PR manages to seep its way into all crevices of business, even the

business of handing out Oscars where examples go beyond Julia Roberts'

portrayal of the highly-(media) exposed Erin Brockovich. As is evidenced

by Benicio Del Toro's win for Best Supporting Actor in Traffic, PR

tenets are as applicable for launching an Oscar campaign as they are for

the latest in consumer products: 1. Define from the competition: Puerto

Rican actor, complete with accent, new to leading role; 2. Pervasive

press coverage: on cover of every major entertainment/lifestyle pub; 3

Credibility: performance lives up to hype; 4. Infiltrate non-traditional

media opportunities: when Heather Graham was on The Tonight Show, Jay

Leno featured a clip from her Calvin Klein Eternity commercial with

then-unknown Benicio, sparking Jay to query, 'Did you know he was going

to be such a big star?'; 5. Catchy tag line: 'Benicio - He's stopping

Traffic'; 6.

Attractive packaging: enough said.

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