On a night when a selfie of stars could crash Twitter and an actress’s sparkly headband could inspire its own Twitter account (@lupitasheadband), the power of celebrity and brands was on full display at Sunday’s 86th Academy Awards.
Amidst several predictable Oscar wins (Matthew McConaughey won Best Actor? You don’t say!) and a rather tame overall vibe, the real drama at the show came from the way brands made appearances. Some paid for the exposure, others lucked into it.
Samsung, for example, was the big star on the sponsorship front. In an effort to build awareness for the upcoming release of its Galaxy S5 smartphone and other new products, the company – which has been an Oscar sponsor for several years – ran a spot that’s part of its new “One Samsung” brand campaign, showing everything from tablets (specifically the Note Pro model) to smart watches.
But it was the flood of selfies spurred by host Ellen DeGeneres during the broadcast that earned Samsung the real buzz. DeGeneres made references to social media right off the bat, mentioning that she herself would be tweeting and taking pics. She took one during her monologue, but later came the now-famous Selfie that Broke Twitter. Even before the telecast finished, it had been retweeted more than two million times, causing a disruption in service for Twitter users that the social platform subsequently apologized for. (What do you expect when Meryl Streep, Brad Pitt and Bradley Cooper – who captured the shot on a Samsung Galaxy – are in the same pic?)
A rival stole some of Samsung’s sponsor spotlight, though. DeGeneres used an iPhone for many of her tweets over the course of the night… or at least her Twitter account did. The @TheEllenShow account flipped between posts from a Samsung and iPhone several times, as outlined here.
Another brand that got primetime exposure came as a complete surprise. Southern California pizza chain Big Mama’s & Papa’s Pizzeria—which doesn’t seem to be an official sponsor of the event—was embedded into an ongoing bit that started with DeGeneres asking the crowd if anyone was hungry. She went on to order pizza from the small chain (one she’s ordered from before during her own talk show) and it was delivered on camera and distributed to the stars. Unlike major brands live tweeting the show, Big Mama’s & Papa’s took awhile to comment on its Oscar experience. Still, it did an enviable job of getting a presumably unpaid plug.
And what better way to wash down that pizza than with some soda, right? Unfortunately for official sponsor Pepsi, rival Coca-Cola made an unexpected appearance when its logo appeared on the pizza delivery boxes.
Coke had sponsored the show for several years previously, but didn’t buy in this year. According to Front Row Analytics, which estimates the value of brand exposure and product placement, the unplanned Coke appearance on those pizza boxes was worth an estimated $1.4 million.
Seems Pepsi may have been tasting defeat.
Photos courtesy of Canadian Press