Posted on March 4, 2013 by
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As the annual Oscar media coverage whirlwind of red carpets, flashing paparazzi camera bulbs and statues of tiny golden humans slowly quietens once again we’re going to sift through the resulting wreckage to see if we can discern who really came out on top in terms of the digital marketing landscape.

We’ll start by reminding you who literally won the Oscars in the sense that they took home a little golden pal to treasure forever, or presumably throw on the ever expanding pile of similar accolades that’s amassing in your cupboard if you’re Daniel Day Lewis. Only the “big ones” – you can see a full list here .

Best PictureArgo
Best DirectorAng Li – Life of Pi
Best ActorDaniel Day Lewis – Lincoln
Best ActressJennifer Lawrence – Silver Linings Playbook
Best Supporting ActorChristoph Waltz – Django Unchained
Best Supporting ActressAnne Hathaway – Les Misérables
Best Writing – Original ScreenplayQuentin Tarantino – Django Unchained

 

But I’m sure you already knew that. Obviously, as is to be expected, the 85th Academy Awards, glittering pop-culture behemoth that it is, dominated social media activity for the evening of the event (Sunday the 24th) but also, owing to its globe spanning relevance, the late night early morning period between the 24th and 25th. During this time period Twitter indicated (via their blog) that there were 8.9 million tweets sent on the topic of the awards. We counted almost 7.2 million that specifically mentioned either “Oscars”, “Oscar”, “Oscars 2013” or “Oscar 2013” (using the wonderful magic of topsy analytics). So, rather a lot of discussion then.  But what specific aspect most successfully captured the public’s interest?

The Movies?

The marquee award of the Oscars every year is “Best Picture”, this year scooped by “Argo” starring, written & directed by Ben Affleck. This event caused the single biggest spike in Twitter activity of the evening peaking at 85,300 tweets per minute and totalling 617,406 mentions over the course of, what we will from here on refer to as the 2 day “Oscar Period”. Life of Pi came in second with 442,515 mentions, no doubt buoyed by its 4 award wins (the most of the evening), and third most discussed was “Lincoln”.

Feb 24thFeb 25thTotal
Zero Dark Thirty680391172679765
Argo480107137299617406
Lincoln27985940308320167
Silver Linings Playbook40821588846709
Beasts of the Southern Wild719015988788
Django Unchained17035618764189120
Life of Pi40687035645442515
Les Miserables13823721668159905



People seemed genuinely pleased with the “Best Picture” decision, indeed it was the 2nd favourite film of both critics and general viewers alike (according to internet review score aggregates Rotten Tomatoes & Meta Critic) topped only by Django Unchained (for general viewers) and Zero Dark Thirty (for critics), so it’s an inarguably strong choice.  This positive outcry seemed to have very little effect on any of the Twitter accounts of the big movies though, whilst people were happy to discuss them very few felt inclined to track down and follow the promotional accounts of any of the nominated movies. None experienced the boost in followers you’d expect to see after receiving such an intense social media focus.

Contrastingly, this being the internet, there are negative effects of popularity to consider. 5 of the 8 films nominated for best picture vaulted into the, never desirable, top 10 “Most Pirated Movies of the Week” list according to Torrentfreak. Django Unchained was the highest climber jumping up to 4th on the list from 8th last week. Silver Linings Playbook and Lincoln climbed back into the list after dropping out of it altogether following their respective releases and both “Life of Pi” and “Skyfall” featured, although their appearance is less notable since they’ve both been popularly pirated since their releases.

So at least people are enjoying the movies! They’re not paying for them but perhaps they’ll buy the DVD’s. But probably not. I don’t think we can really consider the movies big winners in this scenario, as they’re positive fluctuation in popularity has only seemingly increased the amount of people interested in stealing them. Bad luck “movies”, maybe next year.

The Individuals?

Whilst the figures might suggest that Argo’s victory was the hottest topic of the evening, anyone who has access to the internet and a pair of functioning eyes will know that Jennifer Lawrence stole the whole show. “J-Law” was specifically mentioned a staggering 1,128,031 times on Twitter over the course of the evening, with a solid portion of those mentions coming on the Monday (318,798, 39%) fuelled by the bevy of gifs, videos and general discussion of her clumsy trip up the stairs en-route to collect her “Best Actress” award, the humorous dismissal of said fall, and then general effervescent charm that she displayed all evening (Mashable did a great job of collecting the best ones).

But how much can becoming the new sweetheart of the famously fickle internet crowd really help your social media standing and benefit you from a digital marketing standpoint? Not much really. The positive buzz might help to foster DVD sales when Silver Linings Playbook gets released (April 30th if you’re interested) but in the short term it only succeeded in catapulting the film in which Lawrence has a starring role back into the “most pirated” list again after it had finally managed to slip out.  It’s particularly hard to crack the Twitter landscape as an individual, even on the back of such an overwhelmingly positive outing such as the one Lawrence experienced over the weekend. Everyone knows who the celebrities who dominate the Twitter-sphere are, they’re active, honest and willing to actively engage with their followers and divulge the sort of information that keeps fans around. One positive event might provide a little bump in followers, but it’s not going to be enough to crack to upper echelons of Twitter influence unless it’s accompanied by a sustained campaign of interesting activity.  Jennifer Lawrence also hates Twitter, so this was never going to go well!

A stronger case for success might be made by Skyfall songstress Adele whose performance of the title song to James Bond’s latest outing stirred 82,300 tweets per minute making it the second largest conversation point of the evening. Adele promoted her single using the popular social media platform prior to its release, posting a picture of the sheet music among other things and she famously commands a hefty Twitter following herself (she’d definitely be classified as one of the previously discussed Twitter heavyweights). Did this contribute to her snagging the Award for “Best Original Song”? Probably not unless anyone on the Academy’s illustrious decision panel counts themselves amongst her legion of followers (which at almost 12 million – might actually be the case), but her universally acclaimed performance might help her snag a few album sales, if anyone in the world doesn’t already own her entire back catalogue.

A strong showing “individuals”, definitely in the hunt.

The Studios?

The ecosystem of major movie making companies is an intensely complicated and delicate one.

There are 6 major studios commonly referred to as the “Big 6”. All of these studios are owned and backed by huge global media conglomerates and 5 were represented at the Oscars (the odd one was Viacom owned ‘Paramount Pictures’).

“Big 6” Major StudioOwned By
Columbia PicturesSony
Warner Bros PicturesTime Warner
Walt Disney PicturesThe Walt Disney Company
Universal PicturesComcast/General Electric
20th Century FoxNew Corp
Paramount PicturesViacom

 

The only studio outside of the “Big 6” to have a film (2 actually) was The Weinstein Company which does not fall under the umbrella of any of the other major players in the industry. Formed by two brothers, Bob and Harvey Weinstein, The Weinstein Company is referred to as a “Mini-Major” – meaning a large US film production company of note which is not affiliated with any of the major companies but directly competes with them.

OscarsE

Most of the nominated films have dedicated Twitter accounts of their own, with some exceptions, but most only muster a paltry amount of followers and thusly don’t affect much influence. They’re also badly hamstrung by their finite life cycles, only possibly being able to remain relevant for the period of time spanning the film’s announcement and initial publicity push to the eventual DVD release, a period of time after which they cease to be relevant and/or interesting to all but the most devoted fans of the films.

Many of the studios run Twitter accounts of much more consequence.

StudioTwitter Mentions% of Total Twitter MentionsTwitter HandleTwitter Followers
Warner Bros617,40626%@wbpictures501,966
Fox771,47033%@20thCenturyFox52,528
Universal159,9057%@UniversalPics282,810
Touchstone Pictures320,16713%@DisneyPictures475,710
Columbia Pictures268,88511%@SonyPictures309,632
The Weinstein Company235,82910%@WeinsteinFilms64,981

 

These Twitter accounts largely represent a missed opportunity. With the internet alive with discussion on their films, none of these major feeds even attempted to interact with anyone – and typically don’t at any time. These feeds are essentially just highly targeted advertising scrolls of promotional material with the occasional pictures and link to a trailer. Evidently this is satisfactory for these companies, and the feeds are active enough to indicate that there must be specialised people hired to run them, but could they not be so much more?

Personally it seems to me to represent a perfect commentary for the overarching way in which the film industry has handled the radical change in culture and societal behaviour brought forth by the dominance of the internet in recent years. Really, really badly.  Social media has the potential to be so much more than just tired, direct advertising – especially for companies with the influence and budget of these media goliaths, nut none seem willing or able to break the mould and capture the opportunity.

Poor show from “the Studios”.

And the Winner is…

Can it really be considered anyone? I’m not sure any specific person or company did enough to really be crowned the out and out winner with the exception of the ceremony itself. Perhaps just as a coincidental factor in the huge societal shift towards the internet but the Oscar ceremony really seemed to capture the imagination of the internet, setting the social sphere alight.

It’s quite clichéd to call the winner, “The Oscars themselves” but I think that this is the only logical conclusion. The success that the whole event was this year represents an enormous opportunity which any of the parties involved could capture in future years.

If any of them can harness the huge volume of public interest towards the awards in the same way that companies and advertising agents attack similarly culturally significant events, such as the Super Bowl TV ads for example, then there is absolutely massive potential for achievement.

So do better everybody! Everybody except Daniel Day-Lewis. 3 Best Actor Awards is enough, let somebody else have a go.

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