Oscar & Super Bowl

Updated: Feb 26 2008, 07:30am hrs
Sponsors of the ABC broadcast of the Academy Awards on February 24 are deciding that the show is no country for old ads. Marketers will spend an estimated $1.6 million for each 30 seconds of commercial time during the programme, and many are planning to run spots previously unseen by

consumers. They are treating the Oscar show as if it were the Super Bowl, when viewers pay more attention to the commercials because they have been conditioned to expect new spots that are the best of Madison Avenueor what Madison Avenue considers its best.

One Oscar advertiser, JC Penney, will use its spots to bring out a new line of clothing and home goods under the American Living name, which is being introduced in partnership with Polo Ralph Lauren. Another Academy Awards sponsor, Unilever, will begin one contest for consumers and end another.

The new contest will seek video clips for the Bertolli line of food products sold by Unilever. A commercial will feature the chef Rocco DiSpirito asking viewers to submit videos at a website, bertollinightsin.com. The winning clip will be made into a short to be shown this summer in movie theaters.

The contest that will end during the Oscars asked consumers to create commercials for a skin-care product, Dove Supreme Cream Oil Body Wash (dovecreamoil.com). During the show, viewers can go to oscars.com to vote for one of two finalists in the contest; the winning commercial will be revealed later in the broadcast.

Also among the eye-opening new fare is a 60-second spot, Studious Pupil, for MasterCard Worldwide, to promote a contest seeking to reward MasterCard customers with priceless experiences. Among them are a portrait painted by Julian Schnabela nominee for best director on Oscar night, for

The Diving Bell and the Butterflyand meals with the chef David Bouley.

The commercial is meant to be the centerpiece of an elaborate campaign that will extend beyond television into print, in 10 Conde Nast publications and Sothebys Preview magazine. It will also include banner ads in places like abc.com, fodors.com and luxurylink.com; video-sharing websites like YouTube; and a section of a special MasterCard website (priceless.com/search).

To try new, innovative ways to reach consumers is the way to go, said Chris Jogis, vice-president for US brand marketing at MasterCard in Purchase, NY.

NY Times / Stuart Elliott