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Oscars 2012, a marketing perspective

The 84th Annual Academy Awards took place on Sunday night at the Theater formerly known as the Kodak Theater .

I attended a friends’ Oscars party, and found myself noticing things from a marketer’s perspective, that others didn’t see.  The night was filled with product placements, advertising, and branding (to a targeted audience).

Here are a few of my casual marketing observations from Sunday night:

1. In the opening montage, as Billy Crystal merged with the animation and changed into his suit he said: “you’re gonna like the way you look, I guarantee it”.  If that doesn’t ring a bell…it’s the tag line by George Zimmer, Founder and Chairman of The Men’s Warehouse.

Following the most fantastic quote of the evening, by Billy Crystal –

“So tonight, enjoy yourselves because nothing can take the sting out of the world’s economic problems like watching millionaires present each other with golden statues.”

2. …Tom Hanks took to the stage. But before presenting the the award for Outstanding Achievement in Cinematography, he introduced the audience to Carl the ‘Seat Filler’.  We learn that Carl has been filling seats at the Oscars for the past nth years.

The reason, I think, that so much time was spent on this segment, was to make the audience feel part of the event.  A “you too can be at/a part of the Oscars” moment.  It was definitely a nice segue from the biting quote by Mr. Crystal.  This is the first time, during the evening, that the Oscars tried to brand itself to the non-millionaires (the estimated 39.3 million Americans who were watching).

After this segment, I bet you were thinking, ‘gee…if I lived in LA, I’d totally apply to be a seat filler just like Carl!’

3. Cirque du Soleil…talk about a teaser.  It was a fantastic advertisement, with 39.3 million pairs of eyeballs watching.  Even though tickets range from $75-$200+, seats still get filled (and not for free like Carl).  Cirque’s performance was also an anniversary of sorts, it was their ’10 year anniversary’ since performing at the Oscars.  Though at the 74th annual…they nearly burned down the house, and not in a good way.

4. Aside from an increase in viewers as compared to 2011, this year, the Oscars was able to retain the 18-49 year old range.  This fact was most certainly helped by the arrival of:

And bit by:

(Unfortunately, due to copyright, the video of the Will Ferrell & Zach Galifianakis on YouTube, was pulled).

Not to mention Justin Bieber, in the opening montage, who bluntly says that he’s there to ‘help with demographics’

So those are a few of my marketing observations.  I’m curious, did anyone notice the same things?


Filed under: Marketing, Random, , , , , , , , , , , ,

Friday: The sky is falling…or just a defunct satellite.

If you haven’t heard it by now, a defunct satellite is due to reach Earth this afternoon (September 23rd).

The defunct satellite is

NASA’s Upper Atmospheric Research Satellite (UARS), which launched in 1991 and was shut down in 2005 after completing its mission.

It was originally thought that the UARS was to make landfall in late September/early October, but:

 NASA spokeswoman Beth Dickey confirmed with earlier today that the reason UARS is expected to fall early in its re-entry window is because of the sharp uptick in solar activity. Solar effects from the sun can create an extra drag on satellites in space because they can heat the Earth’s atmosphere, causing it to expand, agency officials have said.    ( – September 16)

So why is this UARS falling to Earth?

Generally, satellites in Earth orbit naturally lose altitude slowly over time if they have no fuel to boost to higher orbit. The orbit of UARS has slowly decayed over the years following its deactivation, to the point that it will soon begin its final dive toward the ground, pulled in by gravity.

It’s important to note the “no fuel” part.  So aside from this bus-sized 6 ton object falling, it will not have any toxic components.

I’m not sure about you, but I have no grasp of what 1 ton, let alone 6 tons looks like!?  So in an effort to learn more, consider this a fun lesson.

1 ton = 2,000 pound

= 5,000 – 14,000 lbs (or 2.5 – 7 tons)

= 6 tons

Ok, fantastic.  So an object the size of a bus, that weighs anywhere between 2 large African elephants to 1 Killer Whale, may fall where?

NASA may only know for sure, 2-3 hours before.  But the debris (apparently 26 large do they know this?) is due to cover 500 miles (roughly the length between San Diego to San Francisco).

The satellite is rotating in an uncontrolled pattern, which is why no one knows where it will land.

Where will the satellite fall? (WashPo) Click to view larger.

Apparently the satellite is not expected to fall in North America.

Though, dear reader, if you aren’t located in North America, fear not.

There is a 1-in-3,200 chance that UARS debris could hit a person, though NASA considers that scenario extremely remote.

Filed under: Random, Science, World, , , , , ,

Chocolate milk does a body good…literally.

Dr. John Ivy, lead researcher on the studies and chair of The University of Texas at Austin College of Education’s Department of Kinesiology and Health Education, and his team, recently conducted a study where they

compared the recovery benefits of drinking low-fat chocolate milk after exercise to the effects of a carbohydrate beverage with the same ingredients and calories as typical sports drinks as well as to a calorie-free beverage.

Sounds like a fun study.

They found that

After riding a bike for 90 minutes at moderate intensity, then for 10 minutes of high intensity intervals, 10 trained cyclists had significantly more power and rode faster (reduced their ride time by an average of six minutes)…


low-fat chocolate milk drinkers built more muscle and shaved off more fat during training, ending up with a three-pound lean muscle advantage after four and a half weeks of training as compared to study participants who consumed a carbohydrate drink.

I’m a big fan of low-fat chocolate milk, and not such a big fan of the gym…so I’m going to test this study out.  I’m all for creative motivation.

Filed under: Food, Health, Random, Sports, , , ,

2011 Holiday Party in Liechtenstein?

While Americans are quite pessimistic about the current state of the economy and the future…

CNN Money:

In 2010, chief executives at some of the nation’s largest companies earned an average of $11.4 million in total pay — 343 times more than a typical American worker, according to the AFL-CIO.

What’s a CEO to do with all this extra cash?

First they should hire more people…and then to celebrate, why not rent the country of Liechtenstein for a night or two?

Airbnb, a Couchsurfing-like website for properties, has partnered with an event company in the tiny but gorgeous principality of Liechtenstein to offer, well, the country itself for rent.

What’s the price tag?

Renting Liechtenstein, which sports also great skiing, magnificent castles and offshore banks, will set you back about $70,000 a night, but, understandably, the minimum stay is two nights.

Click on the shirt to brush up on your Liechtenstein knowledge. (Wikipedia)

Filed under: Business, Finance, Random, World, , , ,

Bringing an April fool’s joke to life

First, a brief history…namely because I was interested in learning the origins of April Fool’s Day.

The modern custom may have originated in France when the Gregorian calendar, which moved New Year’s Day from March 25 to January 1, was adopted in 1582. Those who continued to celebrate the end of New Year Week on April 1 were referred to as fools.         – Encyclopedia Britannica

Fantastic.  Now that we’re all caught up…

One of my favorite April Fool’s jokes of 2011 was Gmail Motion – ‘control Gmail with your body’.

Gmail Motion (click image to enlarge)

In response, a couple of people at MxR lab, within the USC Institute for Creative Technologies, decided to bring Gmail Motion to life.  Check it out!



Filed under: Business, Random, Tech, , ,

Advertising of the future, brought to you by BMW Germany

Forget print, banner/Internet or mobile advertising… BMW is taking the advertising to a whole new level.

BMW Germany is literally getting into consumers’ heads, by burning its logo onto the insides of their eyes.

I know, that sounds sort of freaky, but it’s actually quite ingenious.

Using pioneering new “flash projection” technology, BMW is testing a cinema spot in Germany that does not feature a visible logo. Instead, a bright photo flash occurs during the ad, and a few moments later the audience is asked to close its eyes.

At this point, the audience sees an after-image of the brand that has been created by the flash. The letters “BMW” appear before them, in the same way that you might see a bright spot if you had been looking at the sun and then closed your eyes.

Check out the spot in the YouTube video below.  Obviously, you won’t get the same effect, but you’ll learn how BMW Germany put the commercial together, and see real-time reactions of the audience.

Who knows, this may be a glimpse into the advertising of the future…

Filed under: Business, Marketing, Random, Tech, World, , , , , , ,

I now pronounce you husband and wife. Would you like fries with that?

And I thought that drive-thru weddings in Las Vegas were out-of-the ordinary… but apparently in Hong Kong, you can now get married at McDonald’s.

You may be thinking this is just some marketing gimmick, but actually it’s what the people want.

People said they’d dated here, or met here, and wanted to get married here…

Sadly, due to the awesome economy, we are all now living in –

“The social mobility and incomes of young Hongkongers have fallen,” said poverty researcher Chua Hoi-wai of the Hong Kong Council of Social Service. “They have saved money for years and can’t buy flats when they get married.”

So what better way to celebrate your wedding?

It’s cost-effective – only $400 for the ceremony & reception for 100 guests, and it’s symbolic (you met there).

The only downside, the celebration is alcohol-free (it is, after all, a child-friendly establishment),  and remains open during the festivities…yeah, you’re not THAT special.  Remember, you’re only paying $400, it’s not enough to shut the place down…

Filed under: Business, Food, Marketing, Random, World, , , , ,

Next time you’re in a noisy restaurant, wear earplugs…

… that is, if you want to enhance the flavor of the food you’re eating.

According to a recent study in the journal Food Quality and Preference, researchers found that

students [they were the test subjects] listening to blaring static rated the chips as less salty and the cookies as less sweet—even though they were tasting the same foods as the other groups.

Another study found that the students rated crunchy foods crunchier in loud noise.

Here’s a test for ya – grab a bag of pretzels, click play on the video below, close your eyes…and judge the saltiness and crunchiness yourself.

Filed under: Business, Marketing, Random, , , , , , , , , ,

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