Oscars Names Marketing Director

LOS ANGELES The Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences has installed Janet Weiss as director of marketing.

Weiss reports to academy executive director Bruce Davis and executive administrator Ric Robertson. She replaces Beth Harris, who hired Omnicom Group’s TBWA\Chiat\Day for the current ad campaign to promote the Academy Awards telecast. Harris now works at ABC.

Since 2001, Weiss has been senior vice president and managing director of Proprietary Media in New York, which handles branding for the American Zoo and Aquarium Association. Before that, she was Proprietary’s vp, marketing. “It was doing well and doing good,” she said. “It involved conservation, kids, families, animals. I loved it.”

Weiss, who attended New York University film school with the hope of becoming a director, gradually moved toward marketing while working with unit production managers in New York, first doing cross-promotions for the movie version of A Chorus Line.

Joining the academy “is a dream job,” said Weiss, who has relocated to Los Angeles. “I’m very attracted to the academy. It runs more like a nonprofit, which I’m comfortable with, outside the studio system.”

Weiss said her top priority is to ensure the Oscar becomes a marketing event for advertisers and “water-cooler conversation” for fans, much like the Super Bowl.

But as the cost of a 30-second Oscar spot rose from $795,000 to more than $1.6 million in the last decade, Oscar-night ratings have declined from the recent high of 34.9 rating/55 share in 1998 to a 23.1 rating/35 share last year, per Nielsen Monitor-Plus.

“I look at it as an opportunity rather than challenge,” she said. “We don’t choose the movies nominated, so have to come up with other ways to get people excited.”

Weiss said the marketing of the Academy Awards would continue to be bid as a project from year to year. She added that she favors the current campaign. “It speaks to the movie lover in everybody,” she said. “It is a really creative way of getting at the heart of what the Oscars are all about, moviegoing.”

“We’re very happy to have her on board,” said Robertson. “She’s extremely intelligent and articulate and understands the challenges and opportunities of the academy.”