Lessons from the Oscars on how to win in the murky middle.

By Amber Hudson and Luke Sklar

To summarize our thoughts on last night’s Oscars would be to throw in a shoulder shrug and say sure, it was pretty good.   Ellen was her very funny self; the dresses were sophisticated, no Cher-caliber shockers this year; the musical numbers were squeaky clean, including Pink who is known for bringing the raunch; and there were no surprises or upsets.

At EIM we believe you need to have a clear POV, even if it means pissing a few people off.  The Oscars tried that last year with Seth MacFarlane.  And while we loved him, it wasn’t for the masses.  Network TV must score eyeballs on the very few premier moments (Super Bowl, the Oscars, maybe even the Golden Globes); if these audiences shrink, goodbye ABC, NBC, CBS.  So this year ABC played it safe and it did the job.

If you’re a marketer facing the challenges of trying to win in the murky middle you’ve got the cards stacked against you.    We all know it:  consumers are more fragmented, more demanding and ever more eager to cross that line; bring on the sex, drugs and violence thankyouverymuch!

So what’s a mainstream brand that’s targeting the volume market to do?  Why, take a cue from the Oscars of course:

  • Like Ellen, you have got to be really, really, REALLY good at what you do.
  • Walk the fine line between boring and edgy. Kim Novak, Jared Leto, Pink’s dress and Ellen’s Liza Minnelli-in-drag joke made it interesting…enough.
  • To make it look that natural and easy you have to think through every minute detail of what you’re going to say and do.
  • Make sure there are no surprises.  The Oscars stuck to their promise of a classy, if a bit too long, night and made the masses happy.

While the train wreck lover in all of us welcomes the shockers with glee, we hope the Oscars continue on this path of high class, high quality entertainment.