Oscars Stay On-Brand As TV's 'Ladies' Night'

No TV brand screams “Ladies' Night” more than the Academy Awards. Television's biggest non-sporting event of the year, more than 60% of its audience has historically been female, and savvy advertisers know it. In as sluggish ad market, this Sunday's 88thAnnual Academy Awards show managed to increase the cost of a 30-second spot to almost $2 million – an 8% bump from last year's telecast, which drew 45 million viewers, representing the best numbers in a decade.

Certainly, those numbers were helped along by 2014's  host Ellen DeGeneres, who was probably the safest, smartest, female-friendly, bottom-line choice the Oscars has made in years. This year's host, Neil Patrick Harris, may be a notch down from DeGeneres in his Q-rating and social media followers. Still Harris is a reasonable choice, who has proven popular with a female demo, whether  through his long run on “How I Met Your Mother” or his multi-year run hosting the Tonys. Obviously, ABC and the Academy learned their lesson after the fiasco of 2013's host Sean McFarland's widely panned frat-boy shtick. Talk about off-brand.



Proof that the Oscars, even at $2 million a spot, is an efficient buy for advertisers who want to reach women can be seen in who’s on deck for Sunday night. Horizon SVP of Research Brad Adgate notes that the Oscar audience skews much older, with a median age of 51 “than the Millennial who flock to movies like 'Guardians of the Galaxy' and  'Hunger Games.'”According to Nielsen, the Academy Awards scored big last year in households with an income of $100,000+ (rating of 36.1), as well as in homes in which head of household had 4+ years of college (rating of 32.8).

The Oscars remain a TV advertising event, yet there's increasing digital advertising activity as well.  Naturally, ABC is the most active player here, placing rich-media and display adds on select Web sites during the two to three weeks leading up to the telecast to build interest. In addition, the network sells display and video ads on and in a companion mobile app. The primary 2015 sponsors of these digital platforms are Discover Card, JC Penney and Samsung, again with creative that's a far cry from the guys-making-fun-of-guys spots that dominate Super Bowl advertising both online and on TV.

Sponsors, such as perennials McDonald's and American Express, as well as Hyundai and AARP, know this is a way to  get their messaging across to a savvy female audience watching in real time. There will be cars advertised, but no trucks. Plenty of beverages, but no beer.  The Oscars, may be the Super Bowl  for advertisers wanting to reach women, yet the advertisers are decidedly different than the actual Super Bowl.You will see General Motors  Cadillac, but I promise you that you won't see any Chevy Silverados.

However, if you hear strains of Kool and the Gang singing “Ladies' Night” as the soundtrack to one spot or another, don't be surprised.

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