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The Roundup: Why Marketing Matters During Oscar Season

[fa icon="calendar"] 3/21/18 4:54 PM / by Brian Bosché

Every year during Oscar Season, fans and critics alike spend hours debating which film should win the notable award. What doesn't get discussed nearly as much is the essential role that marketing plays in determining who actually wins.

In this episode of The Roundup, a weekly series in which Hassaan (Slope's Creative Manager) and myself (CEO & Co-Founder) discuss news from across the marketing and creative industry, we discuss the strategy behind The Shape of Water's trailers, whether Netflix content should be included in the Oscars, and the unique way Three Billboards used... billboards... to promote their movie.

How a marketing campaign helped The Shape of Water win Best Picture

This was an interesting year for the Oscars because there wasn't a clear favorite to win Best Picture. That means that the marketing campaigns that promoted the films became even more important.

MOCEAN was the agency charged with producing the promotional content for The Shape of Water. In this episode, we discuss how they focused their marketing efforts on highlighting the emotional connection to the characters and how it's magical quality stood out amongst it's competitors. New York Times' "How The Shape of Water Became the Film to Beat at the Oscars" expands on that sentiment:

"Dennis Rice, a marketing and distribution consultant who has worked at Miramax and Disney, said the fact that many people found “The Shape of Water” so moving helped explain why it is doing so well. He also attributed its success to an ace marketing campaign, which, he wrote in an email, 'focused on audiences’ emotional connection to the film.'"

Should Netflix films be considered at the Oscars?

With streaming services like Netflix gaining in popularity and producing their own films and shows, how should we classify their content for awards? Can a piece of content be considered for both the Oscars and the Emmys? We discuss a Hollywood Reporter article on the Film Academy considering banning "double-dipping" across both awards.

The billboard industry thanks Three Billboards

With digital marketing on the rise, the Outdoor Advertising Association of America (OAAA) took advantage of a rare opportunity to highlight an Oscar film's use of billboards. As reported by Adweek, the OAAA did their own billboard campaign congratulating Three Billboards on their success. We discuss how this type of relevant, timely campaign hits home with consumers.

“'We wanted to cheer on the movie with ‘billboard’ in the title, showcase capabilities of modern outdoor—to adapt quickly, change copy and display great creative—and then thirdly, to have some fun with this,' said Ken Klein, EVP of government affairs at the Outdoor Advertising Association of America (OAAA), of the congratulatory billboards. 'We probably won’t see this alignment, where there is a seven-time Academy Award-nominated film with ‘billboard’ in the title again, so we wanted to make hay while sun was shining.'”

General Oscar marketing resources

Want to learn more about Oscar Marketing Campaigns? Check out these great articles:

Full Transcript

Brian: Do you want to start off, Hassaan?

Hassaan: You just said that you were going to start it off.

Brian: No, no, no. Like, hey I'm Hassaan and I'm Brian.

Hassaan: Oh, what up. I'm Hassaan.

Brian: I'm Brian. Welcome to this week of-

Hassaan: Whatever this show is.

Brian: This week we're talking about-

Hassaan: Yeah.

Brian: We're not talking about welcome to. And this week we're going over Oscar marketing campaigns. So these studios basically have campaigns for the actual theatrical release, which they try to get box office numbers to go high.

Hassaan: Right.

Brian: This one is a very separate campaign that is for winning an Oscar, or for the entire awards season, actually. So, it made this year really interesting to me for these Oscar marketing campaigns, is there was no clear favorite. Or there wasn't a top one or two that came out of the field. It was really a race with Get Out and Shape of Water, and Dunkirk and Three Billboards. And there wasn't really a popular consensus, which means that the marketing messaging for these campaigns, becomes a lot more important. And one of the reasons that Shape of Water credits their win, is to an amazing marketing campaign.

Hassaan: It included the themes of the Shape of Water, like inclusion for dummies. You know what I'm saying?

Brian: A demi-god water creature from the Amazon?

Hassaan: That's like an insert your otherness here as you can get. They're harping on those themes, and they're harping on the fact that it's getting great reviews, and of course, you can't get too far away from tradition in that it's a movie about movies. There are a lot of-

Brian: The academy loves those.

Hassaan: Loves this shit. And of course, I think that's a big reason of why it won, because it is blending this traditional, the movie about movies, being a period piece that the Academy loves, with these political themes that are very hot for right now. Put together in a way that's very palatable from a wide spectrum of your political takes or whatever. That's where I'm coming from.

Brian: What's interesting is the New York Times article and others came at it from a completely different side.

Hassaan: Mm-hmm (affirmative)-

Brian: They didn't really talk about inclusion, they didn't really talk about your points. They talked about the movie understanding its strengths. They understood their positioning in the marketplace of movies, and really went after the emotional appeal, the magic appeal, the character development appeal. They marketed towards them and they really showed how maybe with inclusion and emotional character development, they were able to separate themselves from the field with that type of approach.

Hassaan: I feel like that was a safe choice. This was the safe choice. If you take away the sci-fi fantasy skin of it, it's classic ... I wouldn't necessarily say Oscar bait, but definitely classic Oscar feel.

Brian: Yeah. In a very weird wrapping. So, you're in the Academy?

Hassaan: Yeah.

Brian: What's your best picture?

Hassaan: We are going to have to start ... That's a whole other segment.

Brian: That's a whole segment, all right. Let's go to yours. Mine was Jumanji.

Hassaan: We're talking about why Academy voters are so pissed about Netflix prospects. One of the main reasons why they don't like Netflix or ... We're just going to talk about Netflix. Why they don't like Netflix films coming in, is because they don't put movies in theaters. Right?

Brian: That's why they don't like them.

Hassaan: That's why the Academy does not fuck with Netflix.

Brian: What is a movie? Does it have to be in theaters to be an Oscar?

Hassaan: What is a movie, right? Yes, it does. It has to-

Brian: It has to release in theaters?

Hassaan: It has to release in Los Angeles theaters, commercially for seven days consecutively, at least. Word is coming from up high that they're deciding whether or not Oscars and Emmy's should be mutually exclusive.

Brian: Aren't Emmy's for TV shows?

Hassaan: Emmy's are for TV shows, but you can get an Emmy for a TV documentary, for a TV movie. 13th, nominated for both, an Oscar and an Emmy.

Brian: The Emmy's considered it a Netflix TV documentary?

Hassaan: Correct.

Brian: And the Oscar's considered it a movie documentary. Both were on Netflix.

Hassaan: Exactly. The Academy has two options. They can try to redefine themselves, or they can double down and say we're for theatrical films. It's the Academy of Motion Pictures, not the Academy of Television.

Brian: So, I'm putting my marketer hat on, and Oscar viewing was down 20% this year.

Hassaan: Correct.

Brian: And just for me personally, and from general reactions from the general public, most people don't really watch a lot of Oscar movies, right? So you don't really watch the Oscar's because you don't really know the movies that are being nominated. If the Oscar's want to stay relevant, if they want to keep generating revenue from their ads, like the Superbowl does, because their ads are crazy expensive.

Hassaan: Right.

Brian: If they want to keep being culturally relevant, they're going to have to open the doors a little bit more to this digital revolution to the streaming services. I think they should start including more of these, because if a Netflix movie has hundreds of millions of viewers, way more than any theatrical release, they should absolutely include that.

Hassaan: We love meta shit when it comes to pieces of content, and what's more meta than billboards putting on for, independently putting on for Three Billboards.

Brian: This an advertisement for Three Billboards?

Hassaan: This is an advertisement for Three Billboards, but relatively unsolicited by the film itself. This is the American Association for Outdoor Advertisements saying, when is the next time-

Brian: Oh, so they jumped on it?

Hassaan: They jumped on. They're like, "Yo, when is the next time a movie with billboards in the title is going to be nominated?"

Brian: They stuck when the irons hot.

Hassaan: Yeah.

Brian: This is like when Stripe sponsored Jamaica's bobsled.

Hassaan: Oh, shit.

Brian: They're like, "Shit. We're not gonna have this opportunity ever again. Let's do this now."

Hassaan: Let's get in there. Yeah.

Brian: That's awesome.

Hassaan: Billboards in most cities, are obscure AF. You know what I'm saying? They're super weak, but this is such a great way to take your industry and bring it back, and make it relevant again.

Brian: This is what we talk about a lot. You have to make content that's relevant, timely, engaging. So when you have moments that hit you, I love this so much more knowing that the outdoor, out of home industry poached these rather than the actual ... Because it's like, okay, if you're Three Billboards out of Ebbing, Missouri [crosstalk 00:06:29]

Hassaan: They have their own billboards.

Brian: They do billboards.

Hassaan: Right, right, right.

Brian: They're gonna do billboards, they're gonna do your billboards, but they're like, this is an opportunity for us. Thanks so much for watching this week, are we supposed to say subscribe? This is on YouTube, right?

Hassaan: This is on YouTube.

Brian: Subscribe.

Hassaan: Hey, hit that subscription button. Check this shit out. Every week, we got you.

Brian: Share. Comment.

Hassaan: Share.

Brian: Subscribe.

Hassaan: All that.

Brian: Subscribe.

Hassaan: Yep.

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Topics: Featured Post

Brian Bosché

Written by Brian Bosché

Brian is the CEO & Co-Founder of Slope. He previously ran a TernPro Creative, creative agency in Detroit, and worked with technology startups in the original class of Venture for America Fellows.