Oscar preview: Telecast ads -- Women are the target audience for commercials during the big show, with brands like Revlon, Diet Coke, and more

By Pat H. Broeske and Casey Davidson
Updated March 18, 1994 at 05:00 AM EST

With all due respect to Steven Spielberg’s Schindler’s List, the biggest winner at next week’s Academy Awards telecast promises to be Madison Avenue. Oscar always draws big ratings — in 1993, it was the third-most-watched program after the Super Bowl and Oprah Winfrey’s Michael Jackson exclusive — making it a select showcase for new and glitzy commercials. This year, the product lineup includes Revlon, Coca-Cola, McDonald’s, Chevrolet, and Kodak. ABC will also take advantage of the program’s billion viewers worldwide to hype its own shows, including Steven Bochco’s latest, The Byrds of Paradise. But unlike the male-oriented Super Bowl, most of the Oscar ads (estimated at $650,000 for a 30-second spot) are ”insurance that you will reach a lot of women,” says Saatchi & Saatchi’s Betsy Frank. Herewith, contenders for best commercial:

Revlon will debut a spot starring maxi-tressed supermodel Claudia Schiffer for Flex Light & Free Shampoo. The company’s so-called Revlon Revolutionary 60-second commercial, with models Schiffer, Cindy Crawford, Veronica Webb, Lauren Hutton, and talk-show hostess Kathie Lee Gifford, will also air. And Olympics star-turned-Revlon pitchwoman Nancy Kerrigan, who will attend the ceremonies as a guest of the cosmetics company, reportedly will star in her own ad.

Kodak’s commercials tie into the show’s ”Behind the Scenes” theme. Appearing twice during the telecast, the spots will focus on eight Oscar-winning cinematographers, including Freddie Young (Doctor Zhivago), Vilmos Zsigmond (Close Encounters of the Third Kind), and Philippe Rousselot (A River Runs Through It). ”The spot is to show that Kodak film is used for award-winning movies, as well as award-winning snapshots,” says a spokeswoman.

*Expect a showing of ”A Diet Coke Break,” in which female office workers cluster at a window to gaze upon a hunky construction worker during his break. The spot’s male model, Lucky Vanous, is ”becoming a celebrity,” says a spokesman. Coke also plans a new 30-second spot, ”Setting Sun,” details of which are under wraps.