Strategic Marketing and Award Season

There’s something incredibly magical about the Oscars. Growing up, one of my closest friends was allowed to go to school later the next day so she could stay up to watch the show with her parents. In my group of friends it was a fashion event – we would watch the red carpet gowns and hairstyles, making mental but detailed lists of favorites and worst-dressed to discuss the next day (Hillary Swank in 2005 is still my favorite). I’ve already looked up all the showtimes for Oscar-nominated nearby.

‘Tis Award Season! Hollywood gears up for long red carpets, gowns straight off the international fashion weeks that closed 2013 and, of course, six-figure promotional campaigns.

Hollywood execs are turning to Washington campaign experts for winning strategies. Many of the political campaign tactics we’re familiar with every election are now being used to promote studios, movies, and actors. And why not? There is as much politics in brand managing a celebrity as there is in a presidential campaign. Here are some examples:

Battlegrounds: For presidents there might battleground states but for the entertainment business there are battlegound awards. If a candidate can get some publicity in the Palm Springs International Film Festival and ride that momentum, he or she is sure to be in the spotlight at the Oscars.

Constituets: Shaking hands and posing for pictures goes along way to promote politicians. But you’ll see actors, directors and producers doing the same during this season. You have to be available to the media in order to get media exposure.

Beer Test: It started with politicians – framing them as regular Joes – but the Beer Test has evolved to include actors. There’s nothing more regular Joe-ish than Sandra Bullock admitting to Googling herself or Jennifer Lawrence admitting she’s starving on the red carpet.

Smear Campaigns: Sadly, this is has transitioned into the Award Season campaigning. Every year there’s a story about a a movie based on a true story that isn’t really true. For the first time in ten years, there’s been a smear campaign launched against a soundtrack nominee, this time to discredit Lana del Rey’s Oscar eligibility.


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