SMM pre-campaign around the Oscars 2021

Elena Sinekovich
by Elena Sinekovich on April 27, 2021

Article summary

The Academy Awards global pre-campaign started with surprises this time. Producers had to spark people’s interest in the event during the crisis of attention and the pandemic restrictions. Did they do it? In this article, you will find a detailed social media study around the Oscars 2021.

  1. The Oscars on social networks: a pre-campaign analysis
  2. The Oscars pre-campaign analytics

The 93rd Academy Awards has already made the Oscars history. 

First, the ceremony was postponed by two months (the longest delay ever). Second, for the first time, the event was held in two venues – Dolby Theatre and Union Station. Third, the Academy considered as contenders films first released on streaming services, not at movie theaters. 

The producers had to accept all these significant changes on account of the pandemic. However, COVID-19 was not the only problem for the Oscars team this year. 

The producers faced the crisis of attention to entertainment awards broadcasts as well. For example, the TV ratings for Grammys were down by 53%, and Golden Globes viewership plummeted more than 60%. 

It seems that a potential viewer of traditional 2-3 hours TV shows does not want to spend time watching all or even part of the broadcast. Many prefer seeing the most important scenes and takeaways on social media the next day. For example, The Oscars 2020 lasted three hours and 36 minutes. It is the equivalent of 864 TikTok videos! So, drawing people's attention was the challenge this year.

Let’s take a look at the ceremony pre-campaign on social networks.

The Oscars on social networks: a pre-campaign analysis

It seemed that the marketers prepared something special, but the pre-campaign was ‘typical’ and a bit conservative without experimental formats and viral content. It started on March 15 and ended on April 24 – the day before the event.

Every day the Academy spread short messages around the event through its accounts on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook marked with hashtags #OscarNoms and #Oscars. 

Marketing tip: Use brand hashtags.

The Academy used two – #Oscars and #OscarsNom – on all the platforms. These are simple, concise, and easy to replicate. Besides, hashtags help you to monitor your results as a campaign ends.

Also, the Academy created a TikTok account in February. They posted funny videos and exciting moments, speeches, and interviews from past ceremonies. Looks like, the managers tested the social platform this year to use it more actively next time. Some of the Oscars videos got more than 1 million views. It is a pretty good result for newbies!

The general content plan included the follow major components: 

  • nominations' announcement
  • nominees’ introduction
  • the ceremony advertising
  • the Oscars podcast
  • an Oscar Spotlight project
  • the TikTok challenge
  • a virtual party for online watchers.

The managers used various post formats with an eye to a platform’s features. For example, they uploaded a full video of nominations announcement on Instagram and pictures with nominees’ names on Facebook and Twitter. 

The appearance of Priyanka Chopra (with 62,4 million followers) and Nick Jonas (30,3 million followers) as hosts aroused interest in Instagram’s page of the event. The number of views of this video was four times higher than the other ones.


Публикация от The Academy (@theacademy)

On Facebook, the photo gallery with nominees’ names had a similar effect. The post earned a record number of likes, comments, and shares.

On Twitter, managers divided the news into 20+ posts to cover more users and get more shares. 

This tactic clearly shows the difference between the preferences of these social platforms’ audience.

Marketing tip: Diversify your social media.

The Oscars marketers did a good job using different social channels during the pre-campaign. They published attractive visuals and videos on Instagram, shared concise messages and retweeted posts with the award mentions on Twitter and created short stories on Facebook. Follow these principles when you promote your brand on these social networks.

The next component of the pre-campaign was the nominees’ introduction. The Academy spread quotes of the Oscars nominees about movies they participated in through Instagram. Followers appreciated this format most. 

The managers chose another tactic on Facebook and Twitter. They shared the information on where to watch nominee films and mixed those posts with stories about previous award winners to emphasize a rich history of the Oscars and their significance for American society. It seems to have worked because the stories often had a higher engagement level than facts about this year's nominees. 

During the pre-campaign, marketers were not afraid to cause controversy by publishing a proclamation after the shooting accident in Atlanta. These posts sparked a heated discussion on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. Although there were ambiguous reactions to the message, the Oscars received additional public attention.   

Marketing tip: Do not be afraid of being controversial.

The Oscars joined the global #StopAsianHate motion on its social networks. This post did not look ridiculous for The Academy after the triumphant victory of the Korean movie Parasite in 2020 and six nominations of Minari, a film about Asian immigrants, in 2021. This act grabbed additional attention to the award. Taking a stance on social issues is a bold step to broad brand awareness.

Additionally, every week the Academy published ad posts reminding fans when and where they can watch the ceremony. 

The managers tried to engage with the audience through these messages. For example, on Twitter, they suggested that followers shared their predictions about winners several days before the ceremony. People appreciated the game.

Trying to cover as large audience as possible, the producers released the Oscars podcast a week before the event. The everyday show about the history of the Academy Awards was delivered via audio streaming services like Spotify. The pilot release was announced on official social media.


Публикация от The Academy (@theacademy)

Besides, there was an Oscars virtual watch party with famous hosts on Facebook. As a result, four thousand people accepted the invitation to watch the ceremony online.   

Of course, the Oscars was reported by mass media on their social networks, primarily on Twitter. 

Mainstream media like USA Today, Vogue, AP, Reuters, CBS This Morning, and the others published news around the Oscars on their pages. 

ABC channel that broadcasted the ceremony posted reminders with its Twitter followers more often than the others. Last week the managers of the channel page were especially active, posting video ads, posters, and photos. 

Also, ABC announced the TikTok challenge for all fans of the Oscars a day before the telecast. 

Videos with a special hashtag #5GOscarsRedCarpet earned more than 9 million views in the very first day of the challenge.

Also, the Academy collaborated with The Washington Post. They held Oscar Spotlight project – interviews with creators of The Academy Award-nominated films. Of course, new series were announced on Facebook and Twitter.

The organizers of the ceremony did not seem to work actively with popular bloggers. Just as few of this year's nominees actively promoted their nominations in social networks. 

However, there were a lot of mentions of the ceremony on Instagram film communities. An #Oscars hashtag was mentioned more than 3 million times on the platform.

Among the mega-influencers who mentioned the Oscars was Paris Hilton (with 14,4 million followers). She published two posts about the dinner party dedicated to the ceremony where she was a guest. However, her account is more about fashion and glamour. This is why her followers paid more attention to Paris’ dress she wore than the event. 


Публикация от Paris Hilton (@parishilton)

On Twitter, some celebrities wrote about the award, too. For example, Halle Berry (429.6K followers) reminded about her dress she previously stepped on the Oscars red carpet. 

Besides, this year hosts, for example, Lil Rel Howery (76.6K followers) and Ariana DeBose (57.8K followers), tweeted about the event. However, there was no impressive engagement rate.

On Facebook, I found just 51K mentions with the #Oscars hashtag and 2.8K with #OscarNoms. There were no big influencers among those who wrote about the event.

The Oscars pre-campaign analytics

To estimate the results of this pre-campaign more accurately, I used Awario as a social listening tool. 

The pre-campaign on social media started on March 15 with an announcement of nominees. However, the ceremony had more broad reach on the Internet closer to April 25, the date of the event. The spikes on the graph below correspond to certain social media activities.   

Screenshot from Awario

According to Awario Reach analytics, the Academy Awards covered a 3.7 billion audience in the last 30 days. 

Screenshot from Awario

The Oscars gathered 51.4K mentions in the last 30 days before the event (here and below is the data from Mention Statistics in Awario). There were 6 times more positive mentions than negative ones. However, most mentions were neutral. 

Posts with positive sentiment shared admiration with nominees and impressions about them. While in the posts with negative sentiment rate, the haters were furious with the Academy’s choice and the rules for participants of the ceremony (for example, no masks during the event). Sometimes, negative replies benefited the Oscars by engaging the fans in a discussion.

Anyway, the Oscars was a central topic on social media for a while. As you can see, posting about the event, people used not only official hashtags.

The Oscars aired on ABC in the US and through live TV streaming services in the world (primarily in the UK and Australia). It is no surprise that the majority of potential watchers located in the US. People in Thailand, India, and Canada discussed the event, too. 

According to Awario Gender metric, there were 60.4% men and 39.6% women among potential viewers of the ceremony. 

Age metric shows that the major audience of the Oscars were people aged 25-44. Probably this is the result the marketers aimed to achieve. However, people over 45 years old (potential prospects of the Oscars advertisers) lost interest in the award. 

The TikTok account launch, however, shows that the Oscars marketers are interested in attracting a younger audience, too. This time 6.7% of people who mentioned the award were 18-24 years old. 

All mainstream media outlets mentioned the award on their social networks. It looks like a success for the Academy’s PR team because all these articles and posts provided a broad reach. 

However, there are no leading social media influencers on this list. People read the news every day, but journalists can hardly convince them to watch the award. Some articles about the Oscars were more negative than positive. The marketers did not run any collaborations with influencers this year.

As you can see, people posted about the Oscars via personal account on social media most. I think it proves that the award is still ‘a show for folks’ than a long and expensive commercial. 


The Academy Awards is a legendary event for movie fans, but the world is changing now. This is why the rich history and traditions will not be able to keep the audience for long, and it applies to all products and services. It is about time to experiment and transform your approach in marketing. The Oscars team has already chosen this way.


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