American Hustle: Oscar Ads in 90210

Who markets better than the Academy Awards? Consider. It’s a 3-hour ad most of us seek out to view! Then, after seeing the ad, we dutifully hurry out to ‘purchase’ its products. Screen Shot 2014-02-27 at 1.48.46 PM  Fact: Each year, just before Oscar voting, film distributors lobby very hard for their nominees, spending heaps on B2B advertising to influence Academy members. In early 2008, I got to experience some of it up close.

Our family was visiting friends who, for work reasons, had been shipped to Beverly Hills (and, yes, their zip code was that one Jason Priestly and Shannen Doherty made infamous).

So many members of the Academy live in 90210 that the studios simply do DM drops to every house there, trolling for votes.

You should’ve seen the pieces: dimensional, beautiful and fully budgeted. One stood out, though. Remember Ratatouille, a cartoon about a talking rat who makes bouillabaisse and coq au vin? It was shortlisted for Best Animated Feature but its direct mail was as award-worthy as any I’ve ever seen.

Riffing on the clichés of traditional French cuisine, it was dressed up as a fancy menu. The letter openly addressed the reader, ‘Cher Academy Member’. And the reader’s choices on the menu? All the reasons to vote for Ratatouille. The client got their laundry list of bullets in a format that encouraged long over-the-top-funny copy. Things like ‘a feast for the eyes, drizzled with spicy nuance and a truly satisfying finish’… you know.

It makes you wonder what concept/formats landed on 90210 porches this January: • a Bible for Philomena? • a stack of 20s for Wolf of Wall Street? • maybe Captain Philipss personal log! And just imagine what sordid ideas were left on some copywriter’s floor, flogging American Hustle.

No, I didn’t try to write off the trip as a business expense — though I am 25 Years a Copywriter.