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Oscar Sells Out

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Also returning for an encore is Coca-Cola, which has been the exclusive beverage sponsor of the Academy Awards since 2006. The soft drink giant is paring down its screen time from a year ago, buying two minutes and 30 seconds of inventory, versus four minutes in the 2009 show. On tap are a new 60-second spot for Diet Coke, two :30s for the flagship brand and a pair of 15-second spots from the “Heart Truth” campaign.

Retailer JCPenney made the third largest investment in last year’s Oscars, spending an estimated $9.2 million on seven :30s. This year, the company has snapped up six minutes of airtime, including a spot for its Cindy Crawford home furnishings line.

JCPenney is using the broadcast to introduce a new tagline (“New look. New day. Who knew.”), said chief marketing officer Mike Boylson. “The Academy Awards are all about what’s culturally relevant, what’s in style, so it’s a very proper place for us to launch our whole spring style message,” Boylson said.

ABC last year soldiered on without a major beauty brand, as L’Oréal Paris bowed out four months before the telecast, taking with it approximately $11.8 million in ad dollars. The category continues to be underrepresented in 2010, as L’Oréal remains a no-show.

Microsoft and McDonald’s will hit the red carpet again, and ’09 newbie Sprint is prepping a sequel. Other confirmed clients include Ameriprise Financial, Kimberly-Clark, Samsung Electronics and Hershey’s. At least three film studios are in the mix.

If recent trends are anything to go by—Super Bowl XLIV set an all-time ratings record and the Grammys and Golden Globes posted significant ratings gains—Sunday’s awards show should outdeliver last year’s show (36.9 million viewers, the third lowest turnout in Oscars history). While guarantees vary by client, ABC expects to deliver between an 11 and 12 rating among adults 18 to 49.

“It’s been quite a remarkable run,” said Todd Gordon, svp, director national broadcast at Interpublic’s Initiative. “Big-event TV still resonates with viewers because it provides a shared community experience that is increasingly harder to find anywhere else.”