The business behind the Oscars

February 21, 2017 Robert Hardy

Get a sneak peak at the businesses that will score big from The Academy Awards.

Oscars businessThe Academy Awards are one of the most lavish events in the entertainment industry, bringing together A-list stars for a fantasy evening of high fashion gowns, buzz-worthy antics and, of course, a celebration of the greatest films made in Hollywood and around the world.

But don’t think for a second that anybody is doing this just for fun. The film studios rely on Oscar buzz to generate box office success and to turn money-losing films into profit powerhouses. And from fashion to tech, businesses are eager to get in on the action, boost their own profile and help grow their bottom lines.

The Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences, the non-profit group behind the Oscars, is arguably the night’s biggest beneficiary, raking in $109 million in revenues from the Academy Awards.

But who else is getting a big win at the Oscars?

And the award goes to…

Academy Award Oscar Statue

R.S. Owens isn’t a well-known name but the 8.5 lb statue they handcraft, Oscar, is one of the most famous in the world.

R.S. Owens has a near lock-up on entertainment industry awards, making everything from the Emmy Award to the American Idol microphone trophies. That helps boost their business crafting lesser known awards, statues and trophies given out by companies, sports teams, associations and schools. After all, the award you won at your corporate retreat seems even more awesome when you realize it’s from the same people who make the Academy Award. 

The envelope please

Mark Friedland Academy Award Oscar Envelope

Almost as prestigious as the Oscar statue are the golden envelopes presenters tear open on stage to announce the winners.  Being awarded the contract to design the Oscars envelope in 2013 became a crowning glory —  and huge marketing opportunity —  for boutique design firm Mark Friedland’s Couture Communications. The opportunity got Friedland noticed around the world and has helped expand his high-end design clientele.

After the party

The Governors Ball, a lavish Oscars after party, is one of the night’s biggest post-show destinations for stars and studio execs who party long into the night. Being asked to supply giveaways, treats and décor for the ball is a big score.

The event has been organized for years by event planner Cheryl Cecchetto, who started out working for the Academy but now contracts through her own company, Sequoia Productions. Sequoia has become the go-to event organizer in Los Angeles for openings, parties or celebrations that need to be spectacular, and as experts in brand activation they work with companies to integrate them into Oscar events and other high-profile promotional opportunities.

Sequoia Productions 88th Academy Awards Governors Ball

For years the elegant linens gracing the tables at the Governors Ball have been supplied by Resource One, a luxury linen designer known for their lavish textures and designs.

Guaranteed to cause a few spills and stains on those gorgeous linens are delicious dishes from chef Wolfgang Puck, who has been overseeing the menu at the Governors Ball for over 22 years. Thanks in part to his work , Puck has parlayed his reputation making outstanding meals for celebrities into his own "celebrity chef" status.

A chance to touch the stars

Film fans crave the chance to be part of the Oscars, and lots of companies seize the opportunity to create fan experiences. Envelope designer Mark Friedland got in on the action by creating downloadable Oscar Red Carpet Bingo Cards, while the Academy itself offers a lottery giving fans the chance to win a seat in the bleachers lining the red carpet.

Oscar Red Carpet Bingo Cards

But the biggest beneficiaries of Oscar fan excitement are brands like People Magazine and United Airline’s mileage program who have made deals with the Academy to give their customers ‘exclusive’ access to the Oscars.

All the latest technology

The tech industry has embraced the Oscars and other awards as a way of showcasing their products and features, and bringing fans closer to the stars.

Remember Ellen’s famous selfie at the 2014 Oscar Awards? That was a landmark moment promoting the smartphone device integrated into the Oscar broadcast, as well as social media superstar Twitter — where the photo has been retweeted over 3 million times.

Ellen Oscars Selfie

You can be sure that this year, stars will be flashing new tech watches and wearable devices on the red carpet, along with the latest smartphones from all the major brands.

A fashion frenzy of glitz & glamour

Of course, more than anything the Oscars are all about fashion. For decades, designers like Valentino, Versace and Chanel have dressed the stars, even paying them thousands of dollars for the opportunity.

This benefits not just the high-end haute couture business, but also the lower-price ‘ready to wear’ fashion market by setting the tone for spring fashion, with knock-off gowns inspired by the Oscars showing up at spring weddings, high school proms and other formal events. 

Up next: Get some business tips from the film industry in Film Secrets: Roll Out the Red Carpet For Your Fans

Film Secrets: Roll Out the Red Carpet For Your Fans

About the Author

Robert Hardy

Robert Hardy is a Vancouver-based television producer, writer and development consultant. Through his company Perfect Day Productions, Robert works with leading producers, writers and networks to help create innovative new television series, digital media and documentaries.

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