Monday, February 28, 2011

The Oscars Makeover: Failure By Design

Who watched the Oscars last night? I definitely tuned in. I must say, I'm not a faithful award show viewer, but I do switch the channel to watch sometimes because, well, they’re big events. Who doesn't love to watch the rich and famous lavishly partying away what I can't even dream of earning my entire lifetime all in one evening. Besides, "everyone" will be talking about it the next day, right? The reason I paid closer attention to the Academy Awards this year was due to their promise to entertain a younger audience. Oscar v2.0, they called it.

A few years ago, viewership of the Oscars fell to an all-time low, so in order to get more people (young people, to be exact) to tune in this yesterday, they pulled out all the stops. It's not their first try. Jon Stewart hosting in 2008 followed by Hugh Jackman in 2009, the Academy's been trying to (re)build viewer base for a while now. This year's rebranding efforts seemed to be most obvious, though. Twitter, Youtube videos, television ads, and most importantly, hosts who "appeal to a younger demographic," according to host, Anne Hathaway, herself.

Frankly I haven't watched a lot of the movies that were nominated (there were 10, who could keep track?), but I wanted to see how the hosts perform and how social media was utilized. And because of that curiosity, I wasted about 3 hours of my life. It was a big disappointment. Twenty minutes into the show, it became clear that it’ll be a slow and mundane one. The funniest bits came from Billy Crystal and Kirk Douglass, of all people. Anne Hathaway basically held down the fort by herself on stage, but besides the singing part, her performance was lackluster.

The social media bit was interesting. The other host, James Franco, who hardly showed his face on stage, tweeted and made videos on his smartphone during the show. They were insightful and funny, and gave the audience a behind-the-scene exclusive feel. But, no, the use of social media was not "successful" per se. In fact, it was a bust. Why? The fun and excitement wasn't converted into interest in the show itself. And isn't the point of using social media to supplement and keep the audience focused on what's happening on screen? I guess that's the challenge presented to the business community in general. Social media can be a powerful tool, but the users are a notoriously fickle bunch. Back it up with substance and attract users back to the main business.


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