Advertisers to Oscars: 'We really like you!'

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Many b-to-b advertisers went for a bit of Hollywood glitz by using last month’s 74th annual Academy Awards show to reach business executives.

Mixed in among flashy ads for Diet Pepsi, Cadillac and Victoria’s Secret were business-focused ads from financial services firms, wireless companies and other service providers. United Parcel Service of America Inc., American Express Co., Cingular Wireless, Verizon Wireless, Charles Schwab & Co. Inc. and Morgan Stanley Dean Witter & Co. Inc. were some of the advertisers that ran commercials designed to reach business executives.

UPS used the Oscars to extend its new "What Can Brown Do for You" campaign, which launched during the Winter Olympics, as a way to demonstrate the range of the company’s services, from financial services to supply chain management. The campaign was created by The Martin Agency, Richmond, Va.

"The idea behind the Oscars is that it enables us to reach a breadth of decision-makers in businesses overall," said Steve Holmes, a UPS spokesman.

The 30-second UPS spot that ran during the Oscars was titled "CEO" and was aimed at C-level executives. This is the first year UPS advertised during the Academy Awards, Holmes said.

Wireless firms wage war

Verizon and Cingular, the two largest wireless providers in the U.S., battled it out on the airwaves during the awards broadcast. Cingular, the second-largest wireless provider in the U.S., chose the Oscars as a way to broaden its message to a national audience.

"We needed to tell the b-to-b audience that we’re a national player, that we’re as large as we are," said Daryl Evans, VP-advertising and communications at Cingular, Atlanta.

The Cingular spot that ran during the Academy Awards, called "Zoom Out," was part of a campaign launched early last month, with a tagline of "What do you have to say?" The campaign was created by BBDO, Atlanta.

Verizon runs two

Verizon ran two ads during the broadcast. Titled "Sauna" and "Cornfield," they each showed a phone user walking through unlikely environments to test the phone signal. The campaign, with a tagline of "We never stop working for you," was created by Bozell Worldwide.

In terms of performance, the Verizon ad beat the Cingular ad in the categories of brand recall, message recall and likability, according to research based on a survey of 3,272 respondents by Intermedia Advertising Group. The Cingular ad was the worst-performing ad overall, the research found.

However, Evans said Cingular’s own research showed the ad was immediately successful among its target audience, although he declined to say by how much.

American Express, which has advertised on the Academy Awards program for the past five years, this year used the show to break a new campaign for American Express Financial Advisors. The campaign, with a tagline of "Make life rewarding," was created by Ogilvy & Mather and is aimed at businesses and consumers.

"The appeal of advertising on the Oscars is that it allows us to reach an enormous, diverse audience," said Judy Tenzer, an American Express spokeswoman.

However, one of the American Express ads, titled "12 years," didn’t fare well in the Intermedia Advertising research. Based on participants’ responses, it was the second-worst performing ad in the survey.

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