Oscars Finally Accept Movie Commercials

The Oscar board voted on Tuesday to overthrow its 55-year-old rule barring movie ads during the Academy Awards. (Frankly, we never noticed they were missing.) Originally adopted to avoid any impression that studio money affected the outcome of the awards, the ban now seems archaic.

More importantly, the ad market isn’t doing hot right now. So where better to turn for some more ad revenue than Hollywood, which so far seems to be one of the few industries not affected by the economic downturn?

Plus, the terms of the Academy’s new ad rules create the potential for Super Bowl-like commercials, which could lure viewers back to the rating-challenged broadcast.

The LA Times’ Patrick Goldstein breaks it down:

The academy is retaining some of its old fuddy-duddy rules, limiting ads to one per studio and prohibiting movies that are up for awards from being advertised. Still, the academy made one shrewd move, requiring studios to deliver an ad that hasn’t run anywhere else. This creates the possibility that the ads themselves could become an event. The academy is hurt by its awards show airing six or so weeks after the Super Bowl, which remains the launching pad for the big summer films and male-oriented action pictures.

But the Oscars, which will air Feb. 22, could become an advertising focal point for vaguely adult-oriented films that have some aspiration to quality. You wouldn’t bother running an ad for “The A-Team” or “Fast & Furious,” but you might be tempted to run ads for Nora Ephron’s “Julie and Julia” or Peter Jackson’s “The Lovely Bones,” just two of the films that could benefit from an Oscar ad launch. Judging from the current crop of Oscar contenders coming our way, the 2009 telecast may reach a smaller audience than ever before. But at least this increases the odds that someone might be talking about the Oscars at the water cooler the next day, even if they’re just intrigued by the cool ad they saw for the new “Star Trek” movie. Hope springs eternal!

We wouldn’t rule out advertising for male-oriented action films. If The Dark Knight scores some of its much-desired nominations, the Oscar audience could include more men. Plus, promote those ads with enough Super Bowl-like buzz and we bet the guys will tune in.

Transformers 2, get to work!

Variety has more details on the Oscars’ new ad rules here.

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