This Sunday, awards season comes to a close with the creme de la creme of awards shows: the Academy Awards, a spectacle that’s as much about “Who are you wearing?” than it is about the golden statuette that winners take home at the end of the evening. It may seem like an odd place to draw inspiration for business lessons — you may never be in the position of tripping on the stairs while accepting a prestigious award (we’re looking at you, Jennifer Lawrence). But take a closer look and you’ll see that Oscars history has some surprising tips for your marketing, customer service and advertising teams.
In 2006, comedian Eddie Murphy was generating quite a bit of Oscar buzz for his role in Dreamgirls and seemed to be a on track to take home the trophy after he nabbed the Golden Globe for best supporting actor.
In his role as James ‘Thunder’ Early, Murphy sang, danced and stole every scene he was in. But when Academy voters were turning in their ballots, there was an onslaught of advertising for Norbit, featuring Murphy in a fat suit — as a woman. The movie was crass, offensive, and unfunny (a paltry 9% rating on Rotten Tomatoes) and come Oscar night, Murphy lost — rumor has it he even stormed out of the Kodak Theatre. Most insiders pointed to Norbit as the reason for Murphy’s snub.
It only takes one bad interaction to lose a customer, even a loyal one. Customer service departments especially need to be cognizant of this — one phone call can go viral within a few hours. Research has shown that it takes 12 positive customer experiences to make up for one negative one. We’re still waiting on Murphy’s 12 good movies to make up for Norbit.
Before the nominees were announced, you could take a look at any columnist’s prediction and it would most likely include Selma for the main categories, including Best Picture, a Best Director nod for Ava DuVernay, Best Original Screenplay, and a Best Actor nomination for David Oyelowo for his role as Martin Luther King Jr.
The moving portrayal of MLK Jr.’s march from Selma to Montgomery, Ala. garnered widespread critical acclaim. But when the nominees were announced, Selma was absent from all but two categories — Best Picture and Best Song.
The backlash was as swift as it was fierce, and outrage spread across social media. While there are numerous theories for why Selma was snubbed, one particular explanation emerged: timing.
Although Academy voters are encouraged to see movies in theaters, they also rely on screener DVDs sent out by the production company to keep up with the influx of films come awards season. Selma’s screeners weren’t sent out until late December, when the voting process for nominees begins, lasting until mid-January.
The lesson? You can have the strongest, most impactful marketing message possible. But if you aren’t reaching the customer at the right time, that message loses its impact, or is ignored altogether. To deliver the right interaction at the right time, you need to be leveraging the thousands of data points you receive in order to create a holistic customer journey. Based on how a customer is engaging with you, you have the opportunity to lead them on the journey and deliver content that speaks to their decision points or events.
At last year’s Academy Awards broadcast, host Ellen DeGeneres walked into the audience and took a selfie of herself surrounded by some of the biggest A-listers in attendance, including the aforementioned Lawrence, Brad Pitt, Julia Roberts, and Meryl Streep. The phone DeGeneres used to take the most-shared (more than 3 million times) selfie? A Samsung Galaxy Note 3. And that was no accident — Samsung is one of the Oscars’ largest sponsors.
The plug was seemingly effortless and spontaneous, and at one point during the Oscars broadcast Samsung was getting about 900 mentions a minute on social media.
To capture the same spirit, utilize techniques like native advertising that place your name in front of potential customers as an expert in your field, without being in-their-face about it.
Although most of the focus is on the big-ticket categories, and their ultra-famous recipients, the Oscars continues to take time during each show to honor the behind-the-scenes people — the people whose job you only seem to notice when it’s done poorly, like sound mixing, film editing, or makeup. Additionally, there’s an entirely different awards show, The Academy’s Scientific and Technical Awards, that recognize the impact that science and technology have in the moviemaking process, not just the people in front of the camera.
Your company, too, has individuals who are behind the scenes, like IT specialists, or engineers, or executive aides, who may not receive the same recognition like your salespeople do. By making a commitment to also recognize the lesser-known individuals that make up your organization, you boost company morale and make gratitude and team-player attitudes a part of your culture.
Tools like Chatter make it easy to give thanks and high-fives in a public, company-facing way so that everyone feels appreciated, and receive a pat on the back or a thank you when it’s well-deserved.
So if you need me on Sunday night, I’ll be glued to the couch rooting for my favorite movie of the year, Whiplash, and looking out for another Jennifer Lawrence tumble.
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