Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Oscars Mean Big Business

Think awards, think Oscars. There's no doubt that the Oscars are one of the world's foremost awards programmes, famous across the globe and emulated by awards schemes in virtually every industry. How many times do we hear the phrase 'the Oscars of the widget industry'? And just to underline the sheer scale and economic draw of the Oscars we'd like to focus on two news items published this week. Firstly the BBC's website has reported on The Politics of an Oscar Campaign. Penned from Los Angeles by reporter Peter Bowes, this feature article details the behind-the-scenes efforts by publicists, PR companies, lobbyists and campaigners to promote particular films and individuals for awards. The ultimate goal, of course, is box office takings. An Academy Award nomination can add substantial sums to the receipts for a film both at the cinema and in subsequent promotion of rental and home viewing formats. Bowes reports in particular on the boost that Oscar publicity can offer to foreign or independent films. According to Fredell Pogodin, who runs a public relations agency that specialises in independent, foreign and documentary films: "A lot of these films start the Oscar race without a US distribution deal. Invariably about 80 to 90% of the time if you are an Oscar nominee you will be picked up by a US distributor." But distibution deals, future earnings potential for actors and directions, and direct box office revenue are just one element of the Oscar economy. The second item we'd like to focus on today was prompted by this press release for Aquabar's Hydration Station. This upscale water fountain concept is to be available at the Platinum Guild International's Academy Award Red Carpet Jewelry Preview event. Yes, you read that correctly. The platinum jewelry industry is hosting an exclusive preview of designer jewelry for the benefit of Academy Award attendees, and they are now offering concessions at the venue (Hollywood's Mondrian Hotel) for complementary products and services. Its a smart move for both parties - Aquabar gets publicity and kudos for being the water station to the stars, while Platinum Guild International (PGI-US) gets to offer first class refreshment facilities to its celebrity visitors. The tie-up was first used at the PGI's Golden Globes Red Carpet Preview event last year, further evidence of the economic reach of the major awards events.