We’re still wondering how Crash beat BrokebackMountain for best picture. So we can imagine how Bruce Davis must have felt to learn that ABC’s Oscar Countdown upset The Price Is Right for most "brand appearances" in primetime.
Davis, executive director of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences, was perplexed by a May 31 report from TNS Media Intelligence measuring first-quarter ad expenditures.
According to TNS, the one-hour Oscar pre-show contained
31:28 minutes of brand appearances, or product plugs—a good three minutes more than a primetime edition of Price (a show that is unabashedly all about brand appearances).
But Davis insists that the academy goes out of its way to limit commercial "clutter" and plugs. It even spent $136,000 to avoid any inadvertent plugs.
"We spend prodigious amounts of money every year covering the commercial signage at Hollywood and Highland, so that shots from the red carpet don’t become a festival of background product placements," says Davis.
Turns out TNS counts the nominated films themselves as brand appearances.
Jon Swallen, TNS’ director of research, says the company uses a consistent metric that includes references to movie titles and clips featured in montages.
"We are not making a value determination," Swallen says, "but taking an objective look at programs and cataloguing where we see brand appearances."
At least they don’t count the actors.