TV ads with celebrity endorsements rise 500% from last year's Oscars

LOS ANGELES, USA - GreenLight, a global media licensing, talent negotiation and rights representation consultancy, today released the results of its GreenLight Ad Gauge of the 2011 Academy Awards show, finding that advertisers dramatically increased the number of celebrity endorsements by 500% over last year's show.

Oscars 2011

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Does this mean that celebrity endorsements have more value than ever before? The trend in 2011 is proving to look towards celebs as the marketing advocates of products and services through TV advertising.

The annual GreenLight Ad Gauge reports analyze TV advertising during the Academy Awards also known as the Oscars as a barometer to identify trends in how brands are using celebrities and licensed music in their TV commercials. GreenLight conducts the same report for the  Grammy Awards.

Key findings from GreenLight's 2011 analysis include:

  • 24% of 2011 ads featured celebrity endorsements, a 500% increase from last year
  • 16% of ads featured licensed music, down nearly 50% from last year
  • 36% of ads featured celebrity endorsements or licensed music, about the same as last year
  • 84% of ads featured generic music, and 2% brand jingles

"Brands and  Hollywood  are back in bed after the recession, but they are going about it in noticeably simpler and more understated way," said  David Reeder, Vice President, GreenLight. "With so many stars featured during the show itself, brands decided not to try to compete and focused on more subtle integrations like voiceovers and existing footage of celebs rather than bombastic endorsements."

"This was not a great year for the music industry though there was a big decline in licensed music in ads," said Reeder. "During the recession, music licensing held up because it can be more affordable than endorsements, and it now seems to be falling back as advertisers shift back to bigger celebrity tie ups."

The results of the GreenLight Ad Gauge of the Oscars mirrored results of the GreenLight Ad Gauge of the Grammys, finding that about one in three ads currently is featuring some entertainment integration and one in four ads a celebrity endorsement.

30 second spots during the Oscars reportedly sold out a month before the show and cost $1.7 million, up from  $1.5 million  in 2010. About 41.3 million people in the United States watched the Oscars ceremony in 2010, a 14 percent increase from the year before.

Diet Coke, Nokia and Hyundai were all deemed to have hit ads on their hands by GreenLight experts.

For the third year in a row, Hyundai was the show's exclusive car sponsor, running two ads in the pre-show and seven during the show. The Academy's rules again created a tricky situation for Hyundai, which has an ongoing campaign featuring the voice of  Jeff Bridges, who was nominated and won last year for his role in "Crazy Heart" and was again nominated this year for "True Grit." While nominees can be featured in ads, those commercials couldn't air within an hour of their category or appearance during the ceremony. "Hyundai cleverly tapped  Jason Bateman  to fill in and benefited from all the resulting buzz," said Reeder.

Meanwhile, Diet Coke broadcast a familiar favorite ad featuring "Sweet Disposition" by Temper Trap as the emotionally moving score for a spot that features ordinary people from all walks of life doing extraordinary things.  "It's a nice choice for Diet Coke to deploy this particular spot during the Academy Awards as it's undoubtedly the aspiration of every ordinary Oscar nominee to create something memorably extraordinary," said Reeder.

Some brands' use of celebrity endorsements and pop music didn't resonate quite as well, though.

AT&T selected "Yeah Yeah" by  Sam Means  as the centerpiece of its new spot highlighting its network coverage in an effort to combat Verizon's network reliability message. "The Manhattan street scenes where dropped calls and patchy service are notorious coupled with lyrics about 'today was the day that I put everything in perspective' and 'that was before you came along and played me a song' almost seemed to reference the fact that iPhone users finally have a choice with Verizon," said Reeder. "Great song, but not when the lyrics make you think of the competitor."

To download the complete GreenLight Ad Gauge of the 2011 Oscars, visit

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