Will Oscar campaigners take a cue from this year’s Emmy race?

As print circulation continues to dwindle and online inventory becoming increasingly competitive, networks searching for Academy of Television Arts and Sciences members have found some out of the box ways to reach voters.

Finally having a chance to catch “Kung Fu Panda 2” last night, I was stunned to see NBC is running “for your consideration” video ads at Pacific Theaters at The Grove pushing the candidacy of “Parks and Recreation.”  Playing during the pre-show entertainment, this is this first time this longtime Angelino has ever seen a network push for Emmy consideration in theater.  This cannot be cheap and the options, at least in Los Angeles, to really reach voters this way are slim.  The Landmark Theaters and Arclight Cinemas (Hollywood, Sherman Oaks, Pasadena) would be the premier locations to reach upscale Emmy voters, but they do not allow paid placement of this kind in their theaters (at least not yet).  That leaves only Pacific’s The Grove and Culver City locations and AMC’s Century City, Burbank and Santa Monica multiplexes as real legit Emmy voter destinations.

Another interesting observation is that FOX has purchased for your consideration mall posters for “Glee” at the iconic shopping institution, The Beverly Center.  Yes, for your consideration ads in a mall.  Showtime has also bought outdoor bus ads that co-promote for your consideration of their shows and serve as general branding in the industry friendly neighborhoods of West Hollywood, Burbank, Culver City and, of course, Beverly Hills.

Could this be the future of Oscar campaigning?  Probably not, but it will scare studio accountants that’s for sure.

One big difference between the TV Academy and the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences is membership size.  AMPAS has kept the group to about 6,000 members.  The TV Academy is more than 15,000.  That might not seem like a sizable difference, but when programming niche marketing (which in general is what awards campaigning is), it’s significant.  Moreover, many of the general ads for films advertising during awards campaign in New York or Los Angeles are designed to appeal to both consumers and pitch specific performances to industry voters.  That’s not the case during Emmy season when most network contenders are in re-runs. The two examples above would have pros and cons for studios.

If the Arclight and Landmark allowed pre-show ads there would absolutely be a flood of for your consideration spots in theater.  You couldn’t stop producers, directors and actors screaming at studios to get their promo in there.  However, that would be detrimental to those chains business model and, moreover, studios as rule do not like to pay for something in theater.  It all goes back to the strange, incestuous and sometimes tempestuous relationship studios have with exhibitors (more on that another time).

The mall banners, on the other hand, could be the next wave, but only if awards season happened during a different time of year.  With overall media spending turning around, malls can charge more because of higher demand during the Christmas shopping season.  That effectively makes it cost prohibitive to advertise straight FYC ads at The Groove, Century City or Beverly Center malls (not to mention the need to push broader films to a mass consumer audience).  But never say never with that one.

Needless to say, even with strict rules from both Academies, the campaign walls are starting to break down.  Something to keep an eye on if you live in LA or NY this fall and winter.

Have you caught any FYC ads in theaters, malls or at your local bus stop? Share your thoughts below.