Last month NBC had trouble filling ad slots for the Super Bowl and wound up taking a DRTV spot for Cash4Gold, which wound up being the success story of the evening. Now ABC is reportedly having trouble filling ad slots for the Oscars. The LA Times says they’re cutting Academy Award ad rates, too. GM and L’Oreal, traditional sponsors, have pulled out, and American Express only has one ad instead of its customary multiples. This probably has more to do with recessionary corporate jitters than Oscar; though the show’s global audience is huge, people aren’t even buying a lot of L’Oreal in China or the UAE.
We thought at first the Cash4Gold of the Oscars would be Culver’s, the Prairie du Sac, Wisconsin-based fast food chain that specializes in “Butter Burgers.” They certainly represent a tonal shift from the usual luxury sponsors. But Brandweek‘s description of their Oscar spot is discouraging: “A fairly psychotic looking cynic, ‘Dave,’ can’t believe how polite the Culver’s waitress is in a TV ad for the chain. He shakes his head at this ‘outbreak of niceness.”” Well, it’s just a synopsis; maybe at the end, R. Allen Stanford will step to the camera and say, “I shoulda hid out in Wisconsin!”