Most Sponsors Stick With Oscar Spots

NEW YORK Despite the current conflict in Iraq, most marketers are moving forward with plans to break a multitude of new advertising during the Academy Awards on Sunday, as long as the ceremony remains on air.

One exception is Pepsi, which is still deliberating its plans for the telecast. Sources said Pepsi originally planned to run 3 1/2 minutes of ads during the show. Ads under consideration included a Beyonce Knowles execution bearing the “Joy of Pepsi” tagline, created by Spike DDB in New York, a brand spot from BBDO in New York and an ad for Aquafina by Element 79 Partners of Chicago, but at press time it was unclear what now may air. “We’re developing plans that would be appropriate, ” said Pepsi representative Bart Casabona, declining further comment.

J.C. Penney representative Stephanie Brown said on Thursday the company planned “very slight modifications in response to world events” to the ads planned for the Oscars. On Monday, the company said it would run 2 1/2 minutes of 60- and 30-second ads by DDB in Chicago showcasing its new spring clothing line that continue the “It’s all inside” tagline. One 60-second spot was designed to “portray women at their best” and uses the Superchick song “One Girl Revolution.” It shows women in everyday situations enjoying the comfort of their clothes. A 30-second spot presents different generations of women, backed by The Ramones’ version of “What a Wonderful World.” The retailer purchased about the same amount of airtime during the 2002 Oscars to tout its 100th anniversary. The company would not elaborate on how these ads would be modified.

Most other marketers confirmed they were sticking with their media buys and creative choices for the awards show. America Online Broadband plans to bow two 30-second commercials, one starring Sharon Stone, the other featuring the client’s “running man” logo in a spot relaunching the broadband service. Both spots, from BBDO in New York, are 30 seconds. An AOL representative said the company was not planning on changing the content in the ads. “We’re monitoring the situation in terms of the Oscar telecast itself,” the representative said.

Yahoo! Personals still plans to run its ad unchanged, said representative Michelle Andersen. The 30-second spot is comprised of a series of vignettes showing the anticipatory pleasure people take in getting ready for a “Big Night,” their first date with someone special. The spot, created by Black Rocket Euro RCSG in San Francisco, kicks off Yahoo! Personals’ “Believe” campaign, which also includes radio, outdoor and online components.

Washington Mutual is scheduled to break two ads during the telecast. However, other elements of the campaign, including TV, print and radio, will be postponed to “a near date in the future,” said Olivia Riley, WaMu representative. The two spots planned for the show claim the bank’s representatives can help customers overcome personality flaws. Created by Sedgwick Road in Seattle, one ad introduces “Roy,” a timid man emboldened when he learns there is no reason to be afraid of getting a mortgage. Soon, he’s ordering a plate of day-old sushi, trying to chop a cinder block with his bare hands and going off a cliff on a dirt bike. Another ad shows “Paul,” who pops a child’s balloon when it drifts to his side of the park bench. He remains grumpy until he goes to WaMu.

McDonald’s rep Palmer Moody said the company will air two ads, from DDB in Chicago, which have already run: “Tough Day,” in which a father and son commiserate about their rough day, and “Dream Date,” whose boy is rebuffed by a classmate, then rescued by actress Tiffani Thiessen, who plays his aunt.

Anheuser-Busch said it would continue with plans to debut three new 30-second ads during the Oscars. “During the war, if the networks and cable channels continue with regular programming, we will continue to advertise with messages from a pool of existing creative that are appropriate to the programming,” the company said in a statement. Spots scheduled include: “Cedric Limo” for Bud Light, which shows the character trying to impress a girl in a limo, and an Anheuser-Busch responsible drinking spot, both from DDB in Chicago. A third spot for Michelob AmberBock by DDB in New York features various versions of the song “Danny Boy.”

General Motors said it has no plans to alter its creative or media plan: four ads for Cadillac in five slots during the show. “17th Street”, which broke as a 90-second ad during the Super Bowl, will run twice as a 60-second spot. “Running of the Bulls” and “Tunnel,” which also aired during the game, will run once each as 30-second spots. And “Right Foot,” which broke after the Super Bowl, will run as a 30-second ad.

Home Depot also confirmed it is not deviating from its scheduled Oscar plan. Commercials will include the previously aired “Classroom” and “Price” 30-second ads, said The Richards Group in Dallas, which created the spots.

Representatives of other companies that bought airtime during the show–American Express, Charles Schwab, Eastman Kodak, MasterCard and Procter & Gamble–all said they still plan to run ads they originally planned to, unchanged.

A representative for AIG said a war clause in its media contract would prevent it from pulling ads, including ones scheduled for the Oscars, in the event of a war, but that the company is “following the situation closely.” TPG in Philadelphia handles AIG’s advertising.