Madison Avenue types call the Academy Awards the ”Super Bowl for women,” which is no doubt why companies were willing to pay the average price tag of $1.25 million for a 30-second spot. This year, several advertisers got into the Oscar spirit by presenting Hollywood-themed commercials, though some were more prizeworthy than others. Let’s roll the tape, shall we?
THE FRED ASTAIRE AWARD FOR MOST DISTURBING USE OF OLD FILM FOOTAGE
In Diet Pepsi’s Easy Rider send-up, a pudgy, middle-aged commuter warbles along to ”Born to Be Wild” on his headphones, all the while daydreaming about cruising on a groovy chopper next to Peter Fonda’s Captain America. Manipulating movie images for commercial gain is always an iffy proposition, but we’re just glad the cola conglomerate refrained from inserting a can of diet soda into Fonda’s hand. Dude, that’s refreshing!
MOST LIKELY TO PLEASE VIEWERS SOUTH OF THE MASON-DIXON LINE
Country big shot Tim McGraw — hubby to slightly off-key Oscar performer Faith Hill — appeared in a funny Bud Light spot as a multiple-award winner who irks his rowmates by constantly climbing over their laps to collect his trophies. Scores major points for eliciting hey-I-feel-your-pain pangs among avid moviegoers who always end up next to the small-bladdered lady who finishes her 64-ounce Coke before the previews unspool.
BEST CELEBRITY ENDORSEMENTS
Nominee Robert Altman helmed two hilarious E! promo spots that found good sports Dustin Hoffman and Eric McCormack re-enacting famous movie scenes in front of their home mirrors. Hoffman lampoons his Graduate performance while pondering plastic surgery (”You’re aging just beautifully…. Just leave yourself alone!”), while McCormack offers a decent Don Corleone impression — complete with an ”orange” section in his mouth — as he chops veggies. (”Someday — and that day may never come — I’ll call upon you to do a service for me.”) An on-target, witty parody of unchecked Hollywood vainglory from Altman, the town’s favorite renegade.
BEST QUASI-CELEBRITY ENDORSEMENT
The kinetic, newsreel-influenced ad for Aquafina — narrated by gushing ’80s fixture Robin Leach — gently tweaks Tinseltown’s propensity for zero-calorie diets, zero-fabric outfits, and zero-point IQs with their tag line ”We promise nothing!” Judging from this year’s Oscar upsets, that’s the Academy’s slogan as well.