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TODD SMITH'S SPIN CYCLE — ABC notches record ad sales for Academy Awards

Todd Smith

Todd Smith

ABC scored record sales of commercial time this year for the 87th Annual Academy Awards show.

The price of a 30-second commercial spot during the telecast reached an average of $1.95 million, up 8 percent from last year, according to the Los Angeles Times. The lofty prices could help the network rake in more than $100 million for commercial time during the three-hour show.

Both ABC and the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences have been riding high after last year’s Ellen DeGeneres-hosted broadcast attracted the show’s largest audience in a decade with 45 million viewers. This time around, Neil Patrick Harris is the host and ABC completed its commercial sales earlier than usual – and some spots went for more than $2 million.

The rush to buy up ads was an accomplishment because the overall TV advertising market has been sluggish this season. It also comes during a year when there were few big movies among the best picture nominees, with only “American Sniper” surpassing the $100-million mark at the box office.

Big-ticket events that people watch live have become more valuable to marketers because viewers tend to watch the commercials, rather than record the show and fast-forward through the ads. That’s one reason Super Bowl ads this year soared to $4.5 million for each 30-second spot.

Advertisers are also getting the added bonus of the social media buzz as viewers chime in on Twitter and Facebook, driving up interest in the telecast. Last year, Ellen DeGeneres posted a selfie with Bradley Cooper, Brad Pitt and other stars that broke a Twitter record by being shared 3.4 million times.

Advertisers also continue to eye the awards because it connects their products to the glitz and glamour associated with Hollywood.

The Torrance bakery, which is in the midst of an East Coast expansion, had weighed whether to advertise in the Super Bowl but instead went the award show route to capture its target audience of women. The company rolled out its new campaign during the “People’s Choice Awards” on CBS last month.

Also advertising this year was General Motors’ Cadillac, AARP, Samsung, Coldwell Banker and J.C. Penney. Retailer Penney has been featured in the telecast for more than a decade.

McDonald’s made its 24th straight appearance in Hollywood’s biggest night, and American Express Co. marked its 23rd year. Some new entrants include Netflix and PetSmart.

The rate at which Oscar advertisers return year after year dropped off significantly after the recent recession and financial crisis hurt companies, according to advertising analysis firm Kantar Media.

Only 43 percent of advertisers last year were holdovers from the previous show, whereas before the recession that number held at about 75 percent.

Maintaining the appeal of the Academy Awards is crucial to the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, which depends on ABC’s ability to sell its advertising time at premium prices.

In 2014, the Beverly Hills organization took in $97.3 million in revenue from its Oscar-related activities, nearly two-thirds of its overall annual revenue, according to the academy.

Top 10 lessons of innovation for 2015

Each year, Fast Company ranks the Top 50 innovative companies. This year – the 20th anniversary of the vaunted survey – only a handful of companies repeated on the list because the pace of change is so intense. Successful enterprises struggle to outdo themselves; new entrants with new ideas and new momentum are constantly emerging, demanding attention.

As part of the Top 50 rankings, Fast Company discussed 20 lessons gleaned about innovation in our digital age. Here is the Top 10.

1. Inspiration Needs Execution – as much as Apple and Google are extolled for big breakthroughs like iPads and self-driving cars, these leaders often shine due to iterative innovation. Apple makes it to No. 2 on our 2015 list because of a raft of iOS tweaks; Google is No. 4 for the success of its once-derided Chromebook. The No. 1 company, Warby Parker, has elevated a smart concept with dogged attention to detail.

2. Tomorrow Is Too Slow – when Mark Zuckerberg graced March 2010’s Most Innovative Companies cover, Instagram (No. 5) didn’t exist. Now it has more than 300 million monthly users. Such velocity of change is everywhere. Japanese messaging firm Line (No. 14) has swiftly built up 170 million users. Gilead Sciences (No. 16) reduced time to market for lifesaving drug Sovaldi from seven years to two.

3. But Great Ideas May Need Time – some innovations mature at their own pace. HBO (No. 7), Kickstarter (No. 33), SoundCloud (No. 32), and 72andSunny (No. 43) appeared on the list back in 2012; they return this year as a next phase of development kicks in. Fast Company keenly watches alums like Pinterest (2013 honoree), which is introducing a new revenue model; if early tests are any indication, the company could be back on the list in 2016.

4. Innovative Cultures Are Rewarding – repeats from the 2014 list are Apple, Google, Netflix (No. 30), Tesla Motors (No. 17), and Warby Parker. But other previous honorees are still excelling. Nike, top-ranked in 2013, saw its stock rise more than 20% in 2014.

5. And Hot Sales Are Still Cool – revenue at tablet maker Fuhu (No. 24) is up more than 159,000 percent. Line is out earning WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger.

6. Failure Does Have A Price – as explored last month in “Under Fire,” Amazon’s 2014 innovation efforts fell short. That kept the company off this year’s list. Twitter’s first post–IPO year proved disastrous for stockholders. Until performance aligns with aspirations, it’s in the penalty box.

7. Millennials Are Making Waves – this demographic cohort is often caricatured, but companies created by and for them resonate. From General Assembly (No. 28) to WeWork (No. 15), these enterprises offer new visions of how we work, learn, and manage.

8. Values Are Valued – next-gen customers appreciate enterprises with soul. Warby Parker’s commitment to provide eyewear for the poor was there from the start. At American Giant (No. 38), “Made in the U.S.A.” is a central tenet.

9. The B Corporation Can Scale – Once, the B Corporation certification was viewed by hard-core business­people as a laudable (or laugh­able) designation. Not anymore. Now, high-growth, socially conscious companies such as InVenture (No. 13), Revolution Foods (No. 39), and Kickstarter prove that B Corporations can be A-list.

10. Bold Ideas Are Global – every continent but Antarctica is represented on our list. Aussie startup Catapult (No. 12) is transforming athletic training; Perfint Healthcare (No. 46) in India builds robotic tools for cancer treatment; Made in Kigali (No. 31) brings style to Rwanda; and Chile’s AlGramo (No. 42) has a new way to sell to the poor.

Golden Mic | ‘SNL’ 40th Anniversary Show 

Steve Martin did King Tut. Bradley Cooper and Betty White made out. Paul McCartney and Miley Cyrus were musical guests – and you couldn’t pick which one sounded better. A week before the Oscars, the most star-studded event of the year, and maybe even in television history, took place in Rockefeller Center’s Studio 8H, celebrating Saturday Night Live’s 40th anniversary. It was beautiful. It was weird. It was self-congratulatory and provocative and hilarious.

There are very few times that you can say you are watching indisputable brilliance, or witnessing history happen right before your eyes. But this special was just that, with 40 years of cast members and guests from what might be TV’s seminal cultural institution gathered in one room to perform, pay homage, and sear into our memories – through their bliss to just be in the room and talent that bounded out of it – why comedy has been and will always be important. Through all the winter storms, record snowfall, and bone-chilling cold, this special cast a balmy, golden hue on our lives.

Each week, The Spin Cycle will bestow a Golden Mic Award to the person, group or company in the court of public opinion that best exemplifies the tenets of solid PR, marketing and advertising – and those who don’t. Stay tuned – and step-up to the mic! And remember … Amplify Your Brand!

» Todd Smith is president and chief communications officer of Deane, Smith & Partners, a full-service branding, PR, marketing and advertising firm with offices in Jackson. The firm — based in Nashville, Tenn. — is also affiliated with Mad Genius. Contact him at todd@deanesmithpartners.com, and follow him @spinsurgeon.

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