New York: The Oscars have lost some of their lustre this year—at least when it comes to advertising.
ABC Inc. has dropped prices for 30-second advertisements and scrambled to replace two of the key sponsors for its Sunday broadcast of the Academy Awards, when Hollywood pays tribute to the best actors, directors, producers and movies of the year.
While always one of the biggest TV events, drawing nearly 30 million US viewers, the Oscars’ broadcast this year is feeling the sting of the sharp pullback in ad spending by auto and retail companies.
Prices for advertising spots averaged $1.7 million last year (Rs8.5 crore today), but this year, prices have come down to anywhere from $1.4 million to $1.7 million, according to media sources. In addition, General Motors Corp. and L’Oreal, two of the biggest advertisers in the past, have decided against running spots. GM alone had spent $105 million over the past decade on Oscar ads, according to TNS Media Intelligence.
Hyundai Motor Co., which also bought time in this year’s Super Bowl, will step in as an advertiser. Other companies that have bought spots include JC Penney Co. Inc., PepsiCo Inc.’s Frito-Lay, and Coca-Cola Co.
But Walt Disney’s ABC also decided it should cast more widely for advertisers, and in a departure from tradition, will let movie studios buy commercials for the first time.
The Oscars’ broadcast is hardly alone in feeling the pinch of the advertising downturn. Spending has dried up across media, and experts say overall US ad expenditures will drop by around 5% this year.
Adding to concerns about audience size is this year’s crop of Best Picture contenders. None of the films, Slumdog Millionaire, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, Milk, Frost/Nixon and The Reader, were box-office hits, adding to the challenge of drawing big audiences to the awards.
For their part, the organizers are promising a lively, original award ceremony this year. It will be produced by Bill Condon and Laurence Mark, and hosted by film star Hugh Jackman.
Brad Adgate, senior vice-president of research at Horizon Media, points out that even with recent audience declines and concerns among advertisers, the Oscars’ broadcast still reaches a wide audience. “It still did 32 million viewers last year. Any show would take those numbers.”