- Quibi was a standout advertiser at the 92nd Academy Awards ceremony on Sunday, airing five separate 30-second spots. The commercials used ticking clock scenarios drawn from Hollywood movies, like the time it takes to turn into a zombie once bitten or sink into a pit of quicksand, to spotlight the platform's focus on video content that's 10 minutes or less, a measure of time deemed a "Quibi" in the creative.
- The heavy TV play from the mobile-only streaming service, whose name is a portmanteau of "quick bites," came during a night that saw broadcaster ABC sell out of the show's ad inventory. The network reportedly charged up to $2.8 million per 30-second spot, according to Adweek. Last year's Oscars average stood at $1.98 million, as estimated by Kantar Media, with some spots going for as much as $2.6 million.
- Other big advertisers during the night included Verizon, which aired four spots highlighting topics like diversity, and Disney, which owns ABC and pushed streamers Hulu and Disney+. Disney recently stopped running ads from streaming competitors like Netflix across its properties, but has a special deal in place with Quibi, per Adweek.
A historic night at the Oscars, which saw "Parasite" secure the coveted Best Picture win, becoming the first non-English language film to do so, keyed into where entertainment's future could be heading, with an eye toward mobile. Higher ad prices commanded by ABC at the same time affirmed there's still an appetite for destination live events on TV, even with ratings generally on the decline.
The large presence of Quibi showed the streaming service continuing to leverage traditional media channels to push a content platform that will only be available on mobile devices when it debuts on April 6. Quibi needs to better establish its appeal and the particulars of its service before then.
Even though the platform led by Jeffrey Katzenberg and Meg Whitman has handily secured advertising dollars in the runway to launch, its consumer-facing campaigns to raise awareness have struggled to score with viewers.
An ad the company ran during the Super Bowl earlier this month landed in the bottom five commercials ranked on USA Today's closely watched Ad Meter. It's possible the Academy Awards was a better audience fit, with the Hollywood motifs matching the spirit of the night.
The Oscars selling out with impressive ad prices continues a trend that appeared around the Super Bowl. Fox sold out of Super Bowl LIV early in November, commanding a record $5.6 million per 30-second spot. These developments portend potentially positive signals for brands heading into the Tokyo 2020 Olympics this summer, though anxiety over the continued spread of coronavirus could throw cold water on the games' momentum.
As with many Oscars ceremonies, the night also wasn't free from controversy. ABC received heat for rejecting an ad from Frida, a maker of postpartum recovery products, that included partial nudity as a mother tried out the products, The Wrap reported.
Actress Busy Phillips posted a criticism of the rejection on Instagram, pointing to the hypocrisy of airing ads around male issues like erectile dysfunction but turning down one focused on women's healthcare. Phillips was supported by actresses Michelle Monaghan, Hannah Simone and Elizabeth Banks, per The Wrap. The Frida ad had 1.2 million YouTube hits at press time.