Who will win the PR award at this year's Oscars - brand or consumer?

As the sun came up the morning after 'the most digital BRITs yet', I found myself writing an op-ed with a sore head having seen Coldplay smash it at the O2 only a couple of hours after winning Best British Group.

Oscars: And the (PR) winner is... (Credit: Tim Boyle/Getty Images)
Oscars: And the (PR) winner is... (Credit: Tim Boyle/Getty Images)
There in the eye of the awards season storm, a question struck me: who in these events has benefited most from the ubiquity of social – consumer or brand?

So, with the Oscars hitting screens worldwide this Sunday, I thought I’d look ahead and assess whether brand or consumer will win.

If last year’s stats are anything to go by then our brands are in for a treat: nearly 50 million people will tune in, tens of millions will make Oscar-related Google searches and 10 million tweets will be sent.

But with the cost of airing a 30-second ad during this year’s show coming in at around £1.5m and the likes of Vanity Fair spending close to £100,000 on its after party, is it all worth it?

Fashion brands seem to think so and some designers have already swapped the runway for Hollywood. Stella McCartney threw a party at Amoeba to showcase her latest collection. Saint Laurent Paris took over The Palladium for its menswear show. Gucci announced a celebrity ambassador.

But brands don’t always have to spend this much money. Last year, Dove’s #SpeakBeautiful campaign started with a simple idea: to turn nearly five million negative tweets from women relating to body image into positive, uplifting ones on Oscar night. It worked. Dove finished up with more than 51,000 tweets using #SpeakBeautiful along with 46,000 responses.

A few days before last year’s Oscars, Nordstrom tapped celebrity makeup artist Charlotte Tilbury to dish out the beauty advice she gives her clients. Stuart Weitzman, a celebrity footwear designer, launched a limited edition Red Carpet collection for its customers.

This year, luxury skincare brand SK-II will partner with top beauty influencers Jenn Im and ThatsHeart, who will take over its Snapchat, giving access to Cate Blanchett leading up to the Oscars.

And it isn’t all unattainable glitz and glam. This year, Pizza Hut is dishing out free pizza for anyone with the same first name as Christian Bale, Eddie Redmayne, Tom Hardy, Mark Rylance, Charlotte Rampling, or Kate Winslet.

So, while celebrities head to after-parties and the Oscars draw to a close, our brands will measure engagement levels and look to the next big thing, while our consumers will be left in limited-edition heels with a glowing complexion and belly full of pizza.

And even if they missed it all while getting some Sunday night beauty sleep, they’ll always have the option of catching the highlights on YouTube just in time to join in the Monday morning watercooler conversations back in the office.

To wrap this up, and save myself from the equivalent of a rambling, Oscar-winning-speech-like-conclusion, it's fair to say the window to capitalise on award show fever is wider than ever for brands.

But with access to breaking news, unique content, new products, discounts and a chance to watch the highlights over and over again, the consumer wins.
If I still haven’t managed to convince you, just check out the Facebook party being organised in Leicester Square for ‘when’ Leo wins his Oscar.

I won’t be there; I’ll still be struggling from last night’s Coldplay gig.

James Thomlinson is partner and managing director, digital at Bell Pottinger

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