It's become fashionable to suggest Oscars ads have gotten better than Super Bowl ads. While not really true on the whole, there were some bright spots during Sunday's Academy Awards telecast on ABC—and some notable misses as well.
Topping the list, for us, was Google "Find Your Scene" spot, which showed how Google Maps can pinpoint the shooting locations of famous movies, including Rocky, Goonies, A Christmas Story, Us and Back to the Future.
Tying into the evening itself, the 60-second spot—released Sunday morning in social media—also showcased the famous steps from Joker, which has already become an iconic location, much to the amusement (and sometimes consternation) of Bronx residents who live nearby.
Late in the telecast, Google also revived the "Loretta" spot that aired on the Super Bowl. (Google, Facebook and TurboTax were the only brands to reair campaigns from the week prior. Suffice it to say that, of the three, Google's has been received the best.)
Other brands that aired multiple spots on Sunday's broadcast included Cadillac, Samsung, Quibi, Rolex, McDonald's, Samsung, Verizon, Apple and M&M's.
Quibi's spots from BBH Los Angeles popped up regularly. The short-form streaming service ran five spots in all—one :30 and four :15s, following the :30 it aired on the Super Bowl.
seems like quibi is a great thing to watch right before you die a horrible death— Gavin Purcell (@gavinpurcell) February 10, 2020
The Oscar spots were a grab bag of goofiness, with absurdist plots suggesting you can enjoy a Quibi episode in moments of extreme stress or danger, because they're so short. Some on Twitter joked that Quibi seems to set you up for imminent death.
Verizon ran four spots featuring some interesting family stories. McDonald's continued its "Perfect Made Perfecter" campaign from the Grammys. Cadillac ran a series of ads introducing the 2021 Escalade, starring 2019 Oscar winner Regina King. And Rolex somewhat lazily revived its 2019 Oscars campaign featuring filmmakers Martin Scorsese, Kathryn Bigelow, James Cameron and Alejandro G. Iñárritu.
M&M's tried a kind of real-time commentary with a bunch of short spots (two :15s during the red carpet show, six :15s during the main telecast) focusing on its new Messages packs—an innovation that puts somewhat personalized quips on the packaging.
While somewhat innovative for TV, the BBDO effort felt more like a social media campaign, and the messages felt too vague to be properly commenting on anything happening during the show. See a general video (not an Oscars spot) about M&M's Messages below.
Postmates, Indeed, Adobe and The New York Times all aired notable single executions. Indeed's spot used the 1969 moon landing as its theme (a few months late, but it was a nice execution), while Postmates ran a trippy commercial showing a kind of burger fantasia on the subway. Adobe celebrated creativity with an eye-popping spot, while Janelle Monáe—who opened the Oscars show with a performance—saluted "The 1619 Project" in a spare, quiet ad for the Times' "The Truth Is Worth It" campaign.
Finally, ABC aired some promos that were more creative than usual, in keeping with the elevated occasion. Its efforts included a live spot with the cast of The Connors, promoting a live episode coming on Tuesday; a Ghost parody for The Bachelor; and an Almost Famous-inspired American Idol spot, with hopefuls singing Elton John's "Tiny Dancer" on a bus trip to auditions.
A brand featured (obliquely) among Sunday's big winners too, with "Hair Love," sponsored in part by Dove, winning the Oscar for best animated short.
Advertisers ponied up between $2.4 million and $2.6 million for 30-second spots on Sunday's show, up from $1.98 million last year, reports AdAge.