Absent from the ad roster this year are Miller Brewing, which took a spot last year, and Anheuser-Busch, which advertised the year before. That leaves some wondering if Grammy sponsor Heineken is filling the beer category. Heineken did not immediately return calls for comment.
According to TNS Media Intelligence, 77% of Oscar advertisers have returned to the big event over the past 12 years with General Motors, American Express and PepsiCo among the top three.
This year's awards will be hosted by popular comic Ellen DeGeneres, which could signal a less-controversial event. Last year was hosted by "The Daily Show" host Jon Stewart, and the year before by comic Chris Rock. Both performers drew mixed reviews from critics.
Last year's Oscar ceremony on ABC attracted 38.8 million viewers and a 13.9 rating in the 18- to 49-year-old demographic. "Crash" took best picture last year but, in general, the nominees were widely viewed as not being sufficiently commercial. The 2006 ratings were down compared to the previous year when best-picture winner "Million Dollar Baby" helped ABC attract 42.1 million viewers.
"It's about being in front of as many people as we can. Just like Super Bowl, the Oscars is a highly rated show so it has the reach," Cynthia McIntyre, senior director-advertising at CareerBuilder, said of the company's three-year presence in the Oscar broadcast. "It's not only about touching the most people as possible; it's peak job-search time for us."
PepsiCo pulled out last year and was replaced by Coca-Cola. This year, Diet Coke is the Academy's title sponsor. The brand is fielding a spot that involves an unseen celebrity demanding a Diet Coke before she'll go out on stage. The spot comes from Wieden & Kennedy.
'Every Day Matters'
Retailer JC Penney is in the midst of launching a new lingerie line and will use the awards to promote its fresh campaign, "Every Day Matters," from Saatchi & Saatchi.
MasterCard, which last year used its Oscar spot to ask viewers to submit their own creative for its "Priceless" campaign, said it is doing something along the same lines, but refused to give specifics.
Microsoft, meanwhile, has bought a series of spots to promote its Vista product. The tech giant is boosting its on-air presence with a billboard near the Kodak Theatre in Hollywood where the awards show is taking place.