Imagine you’re at a lavish film industry party sipping champagne and nibbling fancy finger food. The head of major Hollywood studio has cornered you, glass of bubbly in hand, and is passionately babbling about his or her awards-nominated titles in the hope of securing your vote. It’s the middle of the awards silly season and there have been soirees, screenings, DVDs, phone calls, letters and hampers to appeal to voters — plus countless newspaper, TV, radio and internet ads propping up the cause.
The legendary Harvey Weinstein, of Miramax Pictures, was that hypothetical studio head on plenty of occasions in the 90s, espousing the virtues of his products to carefully selected people. Throughout the course of the decade Miramax would spectacularly ramp up Hollywood’s culture of ‘for your consideration’ chest-thumping, latching on to the huge benefits that could be reaped. The Academy Awards was, after all, created by a studio executive (Louis B. Mayer, in 1929) as an annual industry back-slapping fest used for building and nurturing brand awareness of a small number of companies on a global stage.
Nowadays armies of publicists and marketers, allocated budgets in the tens of millions, go full tilt spreading studio scuttlebutt in the lead-up to the Oscars in February. The US film industry’s night of nights is so big that the distribution strategies of every major studio are constructed around it and hundreds of millions of viewers across the world tune into it every year. Companies that take golden statuettes collect a seal of approval on one hand and a financial shot in the arm on another, particularly via ancillary platforms.
In Australia, during the lead-up to our more modest equivalent of the Oscars — the Australian Academy of Cinema Television Arts (AACTA) Awards — tumbleweeds roll through the publicity circuit.