What is an Oscar ad spot worth when #OscarsSoWhite?

Stuart Elliot ponders what are the tarnished Oscars worth to advertisers, and lays down some interesting points. Unlike the Super Bowl advertising event, the Oscars doesn't have the same advertising impact even though it's been dubbed "the super bowl for women". This is partly due to the fact that the audience numbers shifts significantly depending on how popular the nominated films are. This year, the risk of being one of the sponsors of an event that has been hotly debated in the press since the invention of the #OscarsSoWhite hashtag isn't only that people who tune out won't see your ad, there's also a risk that activists boycott the sponsors instead of the show.

For one thing, the Academy's scrambling to change its membership in the wake of these nominations says to a lot of people that there's something wrong with the actors and actresses who actually were nominated. So why bother to watch the broadcast Sunday if those nominees already have been found wanting? (There also are likely to be people who won't watch because they're unhappy there are no minority nominees, and activists are calling for boycotts of the broadcast and organizing protests in Hollywood and at ABC stations in big markets.)

The Academy's reaction also suggests that its leaders no longer believe the sole standard for an Oscar nomination ought to be the quality of a performance. If other criteria are to be added to the mix, how will that affect the public's perception of how prestigious -- and objective -- the award is?

The Academy's rule changes, meant to increase the diversity of its membership, may also mean that among the older members losing their Oscar voting rights are those who voted to give Sidney Poitier the Academy Award for Best Actor in 1964. Or those who voted to give Denzel Washington and Halle Berry their Oscars for Best Actor and Best Actress in 2002. Or even those who voted to give three rappers the Oscar for Best Original Song, for "It's Hard Out Here for a Pimp" from "Hustle and Flow," in 2006.

This yeah Kohl's has replaced JC Penney as the main Oscar sponsor and that is a big gamble. The Oscars have been in decline for years, last year, they fell 16% to 36.6 million Americans between 18 and 49, which is nowhere near the Super Bowl numbers the big game reaches regardless of which team is playing. In Kohl's 60-second Oscars spot, which will air during the show on Feb. 28, Cuba Gooding Jr. is the voice over. But who will tune in to watch? As Stuart Elliot says:

ABC is trying to make lemonade out of the proverbial lemons. One promotional commercial running on the network urges audiences to tune in for "the most unpredictable Oscars ever -- and Chris Rock." Now that's a pitch: "Hey, spend three and a half or four hours watching our master of ceremonies attack the very show he's hosting!"

Will it be better or worse if Rock's barbs are viciously on target or if they land with a thud? It's a predicament Bob Hope or Billy Crystal never had to confront.


The hunt for Oscar photos brought you this tweet earlier today. The Academy Awards are an equal opportunity offender, if you will.

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