Oscars For Your Consideration Campaigns

Ethan Ramchandani, Editor

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Movie award shows draw millions of viewers nationwide every year.  The prospect of seeing the highest grossing films of the year competing for the top spot makes for an entertaining program.  However, these awards hardly have the final word on the movie of the year.  On multiple occasions, people become outraged over the recipients of these awards.  This is because the public is not the determinant of the winners.  The gross truth, however, is that the nominations committee’s selections process is underhanded.

“For your consideration campaigns” (FYC campaigns) are a specific form of advertising that are border-line bribery.  Every year, studios pool millions of dollars into these.  These campaigns target the award’s voters as they make or break a movie’s chances of obtaining an award.  FYC campaigns assume multiple forms, from sending free copies of movies with certain gifts included to throwing parties where these voters can meet celebrities.  Additionally, billboards scattered throughout LA serve to influence public opinion about who is and who isn’t worthy of being a recipient.

These campaigns originated during the early years of these award shows.  For example, during the 31st annual Oscars, John Wayne’s The Alamo received lukewarm reviews on release.  Chill Wills’ acting was the only bright spot in an otherwise dull movie.  Wayne attempted to capitalize on this as Wills scored a nomination for the best supporting actor.  Wayne hired a publicist nicknamed ‘Bow-Wow’ to publish ads pushing for Wills’ victory.  Despite the failure of the ads, the spirit of the campaign formed and lasted into what it is today.

More recently, FYC campaigns have taken a political form with musicians and actors speaking up politically to gain traction with electors.  Billboards displaying subliminal political messages are peppered all over major population centers.

Even actors take jabs at the practice.  Denzel Washington, in one of his acceptance speeches, described one of these bribery throw-downs that took place.  In his story, he recounts socializing and posing for pictures with the Oscar’s electors.  He punctuated his speech by comically mentioning he won the award that year.  As mentioned before, millions of dollars are spent during these campaigns. However, they pay for themselves should they succeed. Just a nomination drives a sharp increase in box office earnings, far more than the money spent to get it there.  A win boosts earnings by at least 35 million dollars.

Shockingly, Netflix gained traction through this very technique.  Before their claim to fame, they were hardly taken seriously.  They went through a long and expensive FYC campaign which ended with 3 Emmy awards under their belt.  They bribed the neighborhoods of Emmy voters to display Netflix lawn signs.  They even sent food trucks around the city, handing out free lunch.  Campaigning clearly trumps quality.

However, there are wholesome consequences of these campaigns.  Many movies that would barely see the light of day gain the recognition they deserve.  This is the reason many nominees are not commonly known to the public.

Therefore, when watching these awards, it is important to take the victors lightly.  While the nominations are not devoid of quality, they are not necessarily better than their competitors.  When appreciating movies, personal preference dominates the opinions of others.  Especially if those others choose under the influence of money.

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