PEOPLE;PLAYER OF THE WEEK;OSCAR'S FAVORITE EXEC DIRECTS NEW PROMOTIONS:RIC ROBERTSON WORKS ON EFFORTS TO SUPPORT ABC AFFILIATES AND ADD VALUE FOR SPONSORS

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And the Oscar for best supporting executive goes to...Ric Robertson.

As executive administrator of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences, Mr. Robertson has developed two new programs to meet several key marketing objectives for the Academy Awards, the 68th edition of which takes the stage tonight at the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion in Los Angeles.

ON THE WEB

Few events need less hype than the Academy Awards. Still, over the past several years, Mr. Robertson and the academy have been looking at new ways to support affiliates of ABC, which traditionally broadcasts the awards, in markets where TV ratings have been flat or down, and offer added value to broadcast sponsors.

Thus, "Oscar Night America," a branded grass-roots program of officially sanctioned Oscar parties in 12 key markets, and "The Envelope Please: The Official Interactive Guide to the Academy Awards," a World Wide Web site (http://oscars.guide.com) that allows Oscar fans to participate in the experience.

At a news conference last week, Quincy Jones, executive producer of this year's shindig, promised that information culled from the Web site would be integrated into the broadcast in surprising, entertaining ways.

After successful testing of Oscar parties in Minneapolis and Salt Lake City last year, Mr. Robertson hired Concept Marketing Development, Camarillo, Calif., to take the program to 10 additional markets and give it a branded identity.

Mr. Robertson sees Super Bowl-type event marketing opportunities for the Oscars but thinks they should be exploited with caution: "We're always looking for programs and activities that will contribute to the public's awareness and enjoyment of the Academy Awards, but adhering to the traditional stand of not going overboard and overcommercializing the event. It can be a tricky balancing act."

A critical point of difference from the Super Bowl: the Academy Awards' strength among women, who account for 65% of the 70 million Oscar viewers.

Revlon, which has worked with Mr. Robertson to create and coordinate promotions tied to past Oscar ceremonies, is tying into both the grass-roots and Web site programs. Microsoft Corp., Eastman Kodak Co. and MCI Communications Corp. are among the other sponsors of the Web site, created by Virtualize, Santa Monica, Calif.

COKE CROSS-PROMO POSSIBLE

Mr. Robertson said the academy will act prudently in expanding these programs, if they do so at all. He is looking to develop other programs, including cross-promotions with movie theaters that could involve longtime Oscar sponsor Coca-Cola Co.

Mr. Robertson, 40, has been with the academy since 1981, serving in a variety of positions. Married with one daughter, he graduated from Pomona College in Claremont, Calif., in 1978 with a bachelor's degree in theater. What playwriting he does these days is for his own personal pleasure. "All my professional writing is done for the academy," he said.

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