MKTG Insights: “Who Are You Wearing?” and Endorsement at the OSCARS
WHO ARE YOU WEARING?
It is a question inextricably linked to the Academy Awards viewing experience. Despite their great work in the year’s best films, it is often the first question asked of OSCAR nominees as they arrive on the red carpet, which has become one of the most scrutinized fashion runways in the world.
For nominees and presenters, the OSCARS are an opportunity to demonstrate their eye for fashion and position themselves as a trend-setter. For Fashion designers, the “Who Are You Wearing?” question offers product showcase and validation in front of a mass audience.
For all parties though, the “Who Are You Wearing?” question is a proof point that Hollywood’s biggest night transcends film. The Academy Awards’ positioning as a true fashion spectacle has made the show a natural and authentic platform for brands in the fashion category to carve out a presence. That positioning has led to a consumer permission – and expectation – to see Fashion brands associated with the Academy Awards. Leveraging Google Consumer Surveys, MKTG conducted proprietary research asking consumers to name the brand category they believe has the most natural association with the OSCARS.
Question: Name the brand category that you believe would be the most natural fit as a sponsor of The OSCARS (the Academy Awards)?
Fashion Brands and Cosmetic / Fragrance significantly outperformed larger and more traditional sponsorship categories. Undoubtedly, this shift is driven by red carpet culture in which celebrity fashion unveils have become as anticipated as Award winners themselves. This natural association between the Academy Awards and fashion not only helps to shape and define the OSCARS brand, but it can actually trickle down to nominees and winners.
In the world of athlete endorsement, sponsorship marketers often point to the dynamic of brand transference – the idea that athletes can embody the specific brand attributes of the cities or teams they play on (ie: an athlete playing for a blue-collar team becoming a more natural partner for a blue-collarbrand). In the world of Arts & Entertainment, the OSCARS have a similarly powerful ability to shape the brand of the personalities linked to the event. For a property genre that is so closely associated with fashion in the eyes of consumers, it is logical that many OSCAR nominees have gone on to partner with Fashion brands in the wake of winning an Academy Award. MKTG profiles three examples:
CASE STUDIES – WHEN OSCAR WINS PRECEDED FASHION ENDORSEMENT
1. Rachel Weisz / Burberry: The London-based fashion brand signed British native Rachel Weisz right after she won the OSCAR for Best Supporting Actress for her work in “The Constant Gardener” in 2006. The partnership announcement was strategically launched after her Academy Award win in order to take advantage of a peak awareness moment for Weisz.
2. Charlize Theron / Dior: Charlize Theron became widely known after she won the Academy Award for Best Actress at the 76th Academy Awards in 2004 for her role in “Monster”. Later that year she signed a deal with John Galliano and became the spokeswoman in the “J’adore” advertisements by Christian Dior. Charlize Theron endorses the product up to this day and starred in a number of popular commercials for the brand.
3. Lupita Nyongo / Lancôme & Miu Miu: Lupita Nyongo was largely unknown to the masses prior to her 2014 OSCAR win and much-acclaimed acceptance speech. In the weeks following award season, Nyongo was named as a brand ambassador for Lancôme and Miu Miu (a Prada-designed fashion clothing and accessory company). Nyongo was credited by many as the “Best Dressed” actress at the 2014 OSCARS, helping to position her as a fashion-forward individual to prospective fashion sponsors.
ATTRIBUTES OF AN OSCAR WINNER:
The significant investment associated with signing a well-known Hollywood actor as an endorser is of course based on more than just the simple question of “Did they win an OSCAR?” Fashion brands – like all sponsors – must conduct the proper due diligence to ensure that any ambassador is aligned the overall brand strategy. However, there are specific strategic advantages to a brand associating with an OSCAR winner:
1. Increased Recognition: The Academy Awards are a mass platform with the ability to create an overnight star. For up-and-coming actors and actresses, an OSCAR nomination, and ultimately a win, is a chance to appear in front of a mass audience and achieve a spike in awareness. For context, the Academy Awards are the 2nd most watched event in the United States and boast significantly larger audiences than the Championships in the “Big Four” North American professional sports leagues outside the NFL (Stanley Cup, World Series, NBA Finals). With the mass audience comes greater strength as a brand channel for endorsers (ie: social media following, media appearances, philanthropic work) that sponsors can plug into as amplification opportunities.
2. Credibility as a “Leading Man / Woman”: The OSCARS are a talent contest and can validate an actor or actresses ability. By being recognized with the stamp of approval that is an OSCAR, celebrities will help to shape the perception of themselves as top-tier talent believable in the role of spokesperson.
3. Humanized Brand Story: So much how the public consumers celebrity is through the distorted lens of TMZ and other paparazzi sources. The OSCARS are a chance for celebrities to shape their own narrative, albeit through interviews or victory speeches. These opportunities can go a long way in communicating and shaping a personal brand, potentially creating more linkages for endorsement deals.
What’s Next?: From Best Actor Eddie Redmayne (Theory of Everything) who is a spokesperson for Burberry, to Best Supporting Actress Nominee Emma Stone (Birdman) who is the face of Revlon, this year’s crop of OSCAR stars was once again proof of the linkage between the world of fashion and fragrance and top-end Hollywood Talent. As corporate sponsors continually search to identify the brand ambassadors best equipped to amplify and authenticate their marketing efforts, the OSCARS and other top film award shows will undoubtedly be a prime scouting opportunity for top talent