Dan Janal, president of PR LEADSMy article about marketing lessons from the Grammys a few weeks ago went viral, so I’m guessing everyone would like to see what they can learn from the Oscars. Here’s my take:

1.     The Oscars are basically a 3-hour commercial for movies mixed in with 3 hours of commercials. Let’s face it: People care about 8 categories and those are usually saved for the end. Before they get to best picture, they shower you with best editing, audio, makeup, costumes, etc. While the people in the industry care, the viewers don’t. I gave up after an hour. Lesson: If you hold an event for your own edification, you will lose viewers. In other words, if you have a podcast or webinar, don’t save your best stuff for last. People might not share the journey with you.

2.     In contrast, The Grammys showed perhaps 8 award winners – and gave awards to dozens of categories off screen. That’s because they wanted to produce an entertainment show. The Oscars don’t have the same philosophy. They have always done it this way and I guess they will always do it that way. Lesson: You have to look at the bottom line and see if people are watching until the end. If they are, you produced a successful event and gurus can be ignored. If you are losing your audience, it is time to revise your script.

3.     It’s all about the replay. I knew I could give up on watching because the newspapers (and now Twitter) will tell me what I should go back and watch: i.e. Patricia Arquette’s speech, Meryl Streep’s reaction, Lady Gaga and Glory. I can condense 3 hours of watching into 20 minutes on Tivo. Lesson: People will wait for your podcast or webinar replay and put it on background. They’ll wait for the good parts as they do their email or nails – if you are lucky. Promise them interesting or entertaining content and give it to them.

4.     I hadn’t heard of any of the foreign movies. But when I couldn’t sleep that night, Netflix highlighted “Ida” the winner of that category. I watched it. It was a very good movie. Lesson: The Oscars are all about branding and promotion. If you highlight one of your products, there’s a good chance someone will click on it where they wouldn’t have before.

5.     The Oscars got slammed for not having any Black nominees. Their answer was to have a larger than normal number of Black presenters. Lesson: You can try to make good on past mistakes. It will be interesting to see how people react to this: “Too little too late?” Or “At least it was something.” Or “It’s step in the right direction.” Or “Pandering.” Time will tell.

6.     The Oscars are as much about fashion as they are about movies. The Red Carpet and the dresses are big headlines in USA TODAY and the NY Times and make big money for the designers. Lesson: Sometimes the spin-offs you create around your event can generate interest and cash. Pursue all alternatives. I just heard of a conference that had 3,000 attendees – and two exhibit halls full of vendors. The conference promoters might make more money from exhibitors than from attendees! Don’t overlook the spin-offs.

7.     Joan Rivers was nowhere to be found on the “memorial” highlight real. She was an important part of the Red Carpet show that promoted the Oscars. Leaving her out was a mistake that set Twitter ablaze. Lesson: Discretion is the better part of valor. If you don’t like Joan Rivers, that’s fine. But to ignore her meant the Oscars created a problem when there needn’t have been one.
What did you learn from watching the Oscars? Do you prefer the Oscars to the Grammys?