AIG, Kodak, McDonald's, AOL, Yahoo and Anheuser-Busch Undeterred by War

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NEW YORK (AdAge.com) -- While some marketers are still dilly-dallying over their plans to be part of ABC's Oscar broadcast on Sunday, others were firmly committed to both their media buys and
Photo: AP
War will not stop Oscar advertisers.
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their advertising creative, should the show go on.

Meanwhile, at its regular Friday press conference, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences said the Sunday show was still going on but that the Academy "would be sensitive to world events."

Celebrity rumors
The Academy denied rumors that the White House asked for a postponement of the 75th annual ceremony. The academy also denied that a number of celebrities would not show up.

Advertisers who (for the moment at least) are sticking to their media buys in the Oscars program are financial giant American International Group (AIG), which bought its first ever Oscar spot; Kodak, which sponsors the theater where the Academy Awards are held; McDonald's Corp.; Anheuser-Busch; AOL Time Warner's America Online; and Yahoo!.

AIG's vice president of communications, Steve Rautenberg, said the company still had the ability to pull its ads if the war situation changes, but added: "We are not going to change the creative." The new work, which includes 10 fresh spots, contains the tagline "We Know Money."

Quiet action
AIG scrapped plans to promote details of the new work to the press and instead quietly broke the campaign -- created by the firm's new ad agency, TPG, Philadelphia, part of the Omnicom Group -- during Thursday's college basketball tournament on CBS.

Regarding AIG's first ever Oscar ad buy, Mr. Rautenberg said: "We wanted to launch it to a wide audience and that's what you get with the Oscars." AIG's previous "risk" campaign, from WPP Group's Ogilvy & Mather, was axed earlier this year. The new campaign is targeted squarely at a broad consumer audience.

Another financial company, Washington Mutual, has decided not to abandon its commitment to airing new creative, produced by Seattle-based Sedgwick Rd., part of Interpublic Group of Cos., during the broadcast. However, the company did cancel other TV, print and radio ads for the time being. "For those people who choose to watch the Oscars, we feel it is a good venue," said a company spokeswoman.

Kodak forges ahead
Separately, Joseph Paglia, a spokesman for Kodak, confirmed the company was still planning to go ahead and break a new 30-second spot during the Academy Awards.

"We're launching new TV commercials for the Kodak Easy Share system. They take a different tone and have the effect of being a little more humorous and contemporary." The advertising shows a man taking digital photos of a friend and displaying the handiwork as a practical joke at a party. The campaign was created by WPP Group's Ogilvy & Mather.

"The Oscars are a high-rated program and we've had a long relationship with the Academy Awards, which are held at our theater. They work perfectly for us," Mr. Paglia said.

A spokeswoman for Cadillac, a division of General Motors Corp., said, "We plan to run a total of six TV ads. We're sticking with our plans as long as the network broadcast proceeds. Beyond the Oscars we're not running ads in programming that is dedicated to Iraq. We're not changing creative. It is product focused."

Cadillac is an official sponsor of the Oscars and provided 30 vehicles for Academy VIPs to drive.

McDonald's is also going ahead with creative related to its brand and the Ronald McDonald House Charities throughout the war coverage and on the Academy Awards program.

J.C. Penney Co. plans to go ahead with its two 60-second spots on the Academy Awards, a spokeswoman said. She said the spots were recently reviewed to make certain they were appropriate in light of the war.

"The spots are on target and ready," she said. One is targeted at women and features the music of a Christian group.

Two Internet giants, America Online and Yahoo!, remain poised to break new spots during the Oscar broadcast. One of AOL's spots shows actress Sharon Stone pitching AOL Broadband. The creative, from Omnicom Group's BBDO Worldwide, New York, features the sultry star in a dangerous liaison with the AOL running man. Rival Yahoo! still plans to break work for Yahoo! Personals, a series of lighthearted vignettes showing various singles preparing for dates. Havas' Black Rocket, San Francisco, created the ads for Yahoo!

Pepsi plans unclear
Two other beverage advertisers seemed less clear about their plans. Pepsi-Cola Co. would not confirm they were going ahead with new spots from Omnicom's BBDO Worldwide, New York, starring singer Beyonce Knowles and another from sibling shop Spike DDB, starring another singer, Shakira. A Pepsi spokesman said: "We are still developing things to see what will be most appropriate."

A spokesman for Anheuser-Busch said the company had plans to take three 30-second spots from "a pool of existing creative" should the broadcast go ahead as planned.

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Wayne Friedman, Tobi Elkin, Mercedes M. Cardona and Kate MacArthur contributed to this report.

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