Kudos to the Academy. Last night’s ceremony captured the pomp and prestige of years past while making the show feel inviting and accessible. And yet, something strange happened midway through the telecast.
Melissa McCarthy and Halle Bailey were introduced and walked up to the podium. Nothing strange about that. It seemed like the two-time Academy Award nominee and a young ingenue were there to introduce one of the Best Picture nominees or hand out an award.
But no. That’s not why they were there at all. They weren’t there to announce a winner. Or introduce the accounting firm behind the ballots. Or to show highlights from the Oscar lunch. Instead, it became clear that they were on the stage to promote their upcoming film, THE LITTLE MERMAID, in a rather shameless integration between ABC and its parent company Disney, who is releasing the film.
This was shocking in several ways. For decades, the Academy banned movie advertising during the Oscar ceremony. The Academy wanted the Oscars to remain impartial to avoid any appearances of favoritism on a night intended to celebrate the entire industry. That ban was lifted in 2008. And while commercials for films began airing during the breaks after 2008, there was never an integration like what we saw last night.
There was no need to add unnecessary minutes to a telecast that has a history of being bloated. Instead of using the airtime to promote a film, that time could have been used to let the winners continue with their emotional acceptance speeches. Or, better yet, just run a commercial for the movie without the icky integration into the ceremony.
It was also shocking because, quite frankly, they didn’t need to do it. Just one look at the tracking shows that awareness and interest for MERMAID are very high. Why undermine the film’s integrity or risk creating ill will with a shameless like this?
Among all the films The Quorum is tracking, MERMAID ranks 4th in total awareness and 8th in interest. The film is doing fine. Why rock the boat?
The campaign has entered the next level. New posters arrived last week, and a full trailer was dropped in after the Oscars. It wouldn’t be surprising to see MERMAID climb even higher on these charts – not because of the Oscar stunt, but despite it.