Oscars Produce Strange Promoted Tweets [Updated]

Oxygen's Kim Novak ad sticks out

When it came to real-time marketing for Sunday's Oscars, it was a success—if you were looking for bizarre results or if you work in Twitter's revenue department. The gala's red carpet run-up to ABC's three-hour telecast was filled with trending topics around the event, and brands appeared to have ramped up spend on the social platform. Whether their investments were wise is up for debate.

Let's start with 81-year-old Kim Novak taking the stage. Twitter users weren't kind to the legendary actress, offering tweets about the idea that she's had substantial plastic surgery. What's more, marketers for the Oxygen program, The Face, purchased Promoted Tweets around the #KimNovak hashtag. It would probably be an understatement to suggest that the context was awkward. American Express, Snickers, JC Penney and Seamless also had ads for the Novak hashtag. Given the real-time circumstances, one can only assume these purchases were made ahead of time.

Though here's a more subtle but still mind-boggling Promoted Tweet. Because #JLaw trended nationally due to Jennifer Lawrence's red-carpet spill (and huge popularity), business-to-business firm Clio (not to be confused with the CLIOS, Adweek's sibling signature advertising awards franchise) paid for impressions that had absolutely nothing to do with its cloud software for lawyers. The Vancouver, B.C.-based company was advertising its tech conference—which doesn't take place until September. #WTF?

And T-Mobile bought Twitter promos—presumably in actual real-time—for "If Leo" around the topic of Oscar nominee Leo Dicaprio. But the cell service's message seemed completely off point, pitching a contest to win a Samsung Galaxy.

These questionable plays were only a part of the paid Twitter activity. Take the term "OMG Jennifer Lawrence," which trended nationally after her fall. Unilever's Lipton purchased the lion's share of impressions with Promoted Tweets, while other companies such as American Express and AT&T also bought the term. (Scroll to see examples.) Once again, the brands likely pre-purchased general terms associated with the blond starlet, such as the obvious "Jennifer Lawrence," well in advance.

And these efforts evidently are not cheap. While outsiders typically look at Promoted Tweets as inexpensive ad buys, per a digital agency exec, that's not the case. "You can burn through a big budget pretty quick if you are not careful," the exec recently explained.

So whether or not marketers performed well, Twitter investors can probably already feel like they had a winning night.


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