Life Not Beautiful for ABC’s Oscars

NEW YORK With just a week to go before ABC hosts its 34th straight Oscars telecast, the network is scrambling to find replacement sponsors, as one of the program’s greatest endemic categories has all but abdicated. Sources last week said that L’Oreal Paris would sit out the Feb. 22 spectacle, effectively leaving ABC without a beauty brand.

Besides losing a backer with deep pockets — since 2004, L’Oreal’s Academy Awards spend has added up to a cool $40.9 million, per TNS Media Intelligence — ABC is heading into the week with a significant chunk of unsold inventory. While the network would not comment on how many avails it had on its hands, as of Friday, Feb. 13, media buyers estimated that ABC still needed to move 6-8 spots, or about 12 percent of the time that would constitute a sellout. Neither ABC nor L’Oreal would comment on the matter.

Thus far, it would appear that a replacement for the L’Oreal business has yet to be nailed down, although some buyers believe that the show may have aged beyond the reach of the category. “A lot of cosmetics companies reach out to younger women and those viewers are leaving in droves,” said Shari Anne Brill, senior vp, director, Carat.

Meanwhile, ABC was able to sign Hyundai as a stand-in for GM, locking in the Korean automaker for seven spots, including one 60-second ad.

Audi will also steer its way into Oscar households next week, although the German car manufacturer is limiting itself to a local buy.

As ABC works to get the last of the Oscars spots off its plate, the net has reworked its rate card, cutting around 18 percent off its original ask with a new base rate of $1.4 million.