Advertisers have learned to take advantage of popular televised events to promote their brands, and the Oscars are no exception. In 2015, the award show raked in 110,000,000 dollars in advertising revenue But is it really necessary to spend 2 million dollars on an Oscars TV spot to gain attention from consumers? Social media has introduced a loophole that allows marketers to reach the Oscar audience without dishing out the big bucks.

Social media activity tends to swell during award shows, and Twitter is an especially efficient way to broadcast initial reactions, opinions and criticisms. In fact, as of 2016, Ellen Degeneres’s “Oscar Selfie” held the spot of most retweeted tweet of all time. This influx of users creates a perfect opportunity for brands to launch a low-cost campaign. Two brands in particular have set themselves apart by using this strategy: Dove and Airbnb.

After researching social media trends through data gathered by Twitter, Dove discovered a disturbing pattern of negative tweets concerning beauty and body image. Women are 50% more likely to say something negative than positive about themselves on Twitter, and 8 out of 10 women will come across negative comments on social media that criticize female appearance.  Superficial events such as the Oscars that have a heavy focus on fashion and beauty can provoke these judgmental posts. In response to this trend, Dove launched a Twitter campaign called #SpeakBeautiful. The idea was to use Twitter’s technology to track these negative tweets and respond back with non-automated, positive messages. This authentic campaign aligned perfectly with Dove’s brand message of self love and the idea that every woman is uniquely beautiful. This campaign was a more successful version of Coca-cola’s attempt to turn negative tweets to positive ones during the Superbowl. Their #MakeItHappy campaign had one fatal flaw- automated responses rather than individualized ones. This led to the company being tricked by internet trolls into tweeting quotes from Hitler’s Mein Kampf… not exactly a good look for the brand. Luckily Dove learned from Coke’s mistake.

Airbnb took a different but equally successful approach to advertising during the Award Show. Their #LiveInTheMovies campaign featured a short, animated video ad on Twitter. The video shows movie-like scenes and suggests their consumers can live this same cinematic adventure by using Airbnb’s services to travel to exciting places. By flawlessly integrating the theme of the Oscars into their advertisement, Airbnb became the most engaged-with brand during the Oscars without spending a dime on a pricey TV spot.

With the 2017 Oscars coming up in the next week, we will be closely watching to see the creative Twitter campaigns that brands will pull out to outdo competitors and report back on the successes and the failures. @Coke…

 UPDATE: The 2017 Grammies have come and passed, and Twitter’s live stream of the preshow reached an impressive 5.1 million viewers, making Twitter a large competitor in advertising during live events. Twitter plans on doubling their live streaming within the next few years, so keep an eye out for a surge in Twitter advertising during large events such as award shows and sporting events!


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