But let me ask you this: Did any of it matter from a marketing perspective?
Samsung obviously enjoyed a lot of attention with The Selfie. But would people outside of the inner tech and marketing circles (that’s you, dear reader) know that Ellen used a Galaxy 3? Would those same people know that it was Samsung’s new flagship phone? I am betting “no,” nor do they care. If you have any doubts, ask people on the bus around you. Or call your mom.
Do you think Coca-Cola sold more as a result of its unplanned screen presence? I bet that if you are Pepsi’s media agency, you’re already knee-deep in make-good discussions. But for the average viewer, it probably went unnoticed. And if it was noticed, it was totally natural: there is a mention of Coke on a pizza box. Seen that 1,000 times. And there is Pepsi as a sponsor, seen that 1,000 times too. Impact zero.
So who did win? Who got ROI on their Oscar presence, intentional or unintentional?
Well, first and foremost, the movies did, as their Netflix, iTunes and Amazon sales will no doubt show. And Twitter gained, or perhaps we should say regained, its position as the place where stuff happens in the moment. Whether that will translate to more Twitter advertising revenue going forward remains to be seen.
Also, I think “Brand Samsung” did win a little. But would it be enough to make up for the roughly $25 million to $30 million it spent on airtime, sponsored tweets, product placement and production cost? I am betting that the calculation will turn out to be a negative for them.
No, I think the true big winners in terms of ROI are Ellen, pizza chain Big Mama’s and Papa’s and Idina Menzel and her record company.
Ellen’s brand -- already strong to begin with, otherwise she wouldn’t be asked to present the Oscars -- went from being a very likeable afternoon talk show host to a culturally switched-on national icon.
Big Mama’s and Papa’s Pizza gave hope to all small-business owners. The delivery guy delivered perfectly. I am betting Mama’s and Papa’s has gained a lot of new customers in its delivery area. At least for a short period of time, there will probably be tourists saying, “Let’s go to the pizza place from the Oscars.”
And Idina Menzel’s Oscar-winning song won even more attention and cultural presence thanks to John Travolta. I am sure iTunes sales will have spiked as a result of the “incident” and subsequent late-night repetition.
So what can brands learn from all of this? Can you “selfie yourself” to more brand sales or market share? I don’t think so.
John Wanamaker is often quoted as saying he knew he wasted 50% of his marketing efforts, but wasn’t sure which 50%. I am thinking that the $25 million to $30 million Samsung spent on the Oscars was wasted if measured against the metric of true sales impact. Perhaps (and that is a big “perhaps”) it worked a little in gaining them “share of love” or “share of hey-that’s-a-neat-phone.”
Which leads me to the conclusion that this year’s Oscars have, in marketing terms, become a Super Bowl event with the same kind of questionable marketing value: overrated, not questioned enough.