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For Your Remote Consideration: How Hollywood Trades Benefit Studios Vying For Awards During Coronavirus Crisis

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This is Hollywood’s favorite award season and movie studios and TV networks are allocating their marketing budgets to reach a rather small but influential subset of the entertainment industry: the awards voters.

Normally, these efforts, called “For Your Consideration” (FYC) campaigns, would include numerous in-person screenings, cocktails, and Q&A with high profile celebrities who summon the nearly 50,000 award voters in Hollywood.

In the days of the coronavirus, however, studios vying for votes rely more on trade publications like Variety, TheWrap, The Hollywood Reporter and Deadline (the latter two declined to comment on the story) and posts focused on Hollywood like Los Angeles. Times, to promote projects they hope will win anything from the best Oscar photo to the lead actor or the standout actress in an Emmy comedy series.

The live, in-person play is essential to the race, said Sharon Waxman, CEO and editor of TheWrap, adding that it was an opportunity for voters to exchange ideas before voting. But since that can’t happen safely at the moment, trade publications are much more important in the awards space this year, ”she said.

Publishers host virtual events to facilitate these online conversations. But this year, personalized campaigns across all mediums, from podcasts to print inserts, are designed to capture the precious eyeballs of voters pursued by swarms of online content released during the pandemic.

“The number of shows vying for your attention has increased, forcing advertising to expand into a time perspective and experiment with new ways to engage audiences,” said Josh Brandau, Los Angeles Times chief revenue officer. . “The need [for content] being more clingy has never been more necessary. “

In January, TheWrap hosted 40 virtual film screenings for movie studio advertising clients, none of which had fewer than 20,000 people on live streams, Waxman said. Not all viewers were voters, she said, but the events online were much larger in scale than any of the traditionally held in-person events.

In addition to virtual events, Waxman said FYC campaigns also include digital advertising for the site’s editorial awards, which is a larger share of publisher’s revenue for FYC than virtual events. Waxman would not disclose exact amount of income FYC advertising brings business.

Usually the fourth quarter is a longer period for spending in the FYC category, Waxman said. But with the Oscars pushed back by two months, spending on promoting the awards didn’t really start until January. Everyone is having a great Q1 for sure, she added.

While Variety is one of the top three Hollywood businesses owned by Penske Media (THR and Deadline are the other two), it’s the only brand to have a content studio, which it launched in 2017, according to CMO Dea Lawrence. And the studio has played a special role in the Varietys FYC content business this year, enabling it to complete extensive print and digital advertising projects, including building a landing site and digital content package. and printed for Amazons One Night in Miami which ended up being the most multifaceted deal the content studio has made in the FYC category to date.

Lawrence would not disclose the total number of FYC campaigns Variety ran in the 2019/2020 awards season compared to this season. David Cohen, senior producer of Variety Content Studio, however, said that last season the content studio sold four FYC branded content campaigns and this year it has sold two so far, down to around two. months before the Oscars.

What’s also different this year is that a large chunk of spending comes from streaming-based studios. Netflix and Amazon have been “consistently big spenders” in the FYC category, according to Brandau of the Los Angeles Times. Variety and TheWrap also noted that they had seen more spending from production companies, including Apple TV + and HBO Max.

Studios, like Warner Brothers and Paramount, which rely on theaters for audience engagement, have postponed releases just when films can have safer theatrical debuts, leaving fewer contenders for FYC campaigns. The pandemic has also limited the number of shows and films that may have been in production, Lawrence said, and as a result there are fewer competitors for pricing and less spending on campaigns.

According to Brandau, the Los Angeles Times’ goal this year was to expand partnerships with studios from launch campaigns to FYC campaigns.

For example, the LA Times launched a branded content campaign nine months ago around the Apple TV + comedy series “Ted Lasso,” when it premiered. Rather than just reverting to this partnership during awards season, Brandau said his team and Apple are continuously running commercials for this show throughout the year to keep it fresh in the minds of voters and viewers. .

He expects the awards season window to be different in the coming years to include more evergreen branded content that falls under the FYC category, but is engaging enough that it can also serve as a advertising tactic for non-voting readers later in the year.

An executive who is familiar with how FYC brand deals are conducted, but who has asked to remain anonymous, said the main customers who buy personalized content campaigns during awards season are cusp movies and shows that know they’re not shoo-ins.

Films that Think were bound to be nominated for Best Picture for whatever awards we want, they don’t buy personalized content, the executive said. And films that know they have no chance of winning buy only if they have another agenda, like talent relations; they may have contracts with talents that require them to make a total effort in a campaign.

FYC campaigns, however, have positive correlations with earning rewards. Last year, 40 of Varietys’ clients were nominated and 14 won awards, according to Variety’s Cohen.

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