Case Study

The Academy and Twitter

delivered a new experience 

to this year’s Oscars®

How the Academy gave fans a front-row seat to this year’s Oscars using a mix of Twitter products

Every year, film buffs gather around their TV screens in anticipation of awards season’s final curtain call: the Oscars®. 

Hollywood’s biggest night looked a little different this year, but that didn’t stop @TheAcademy from putting on a show worthy of a golden statuette.  

In collaboration with the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, Twitter helped put together an innovation-forward partnership that would help drive Oscar® buzz and fan conversation, including a promotional launch for Global Movie Day and an exclusive Event Page on Twitter. 

With help from Twitter products, the Academy hosted a nominee livestream, shared Video-on-Demand clips and live Moments recaps from the show, and held a custom DM Predictions experience for fans. 

So how did Meryl Johnson, Vice President of Digital Marketing at the Academy, work with Twitter for this year’s Academy Awards®? She broke down the Oscars digital strategy for us below: 

TWITTER: This year, the Academy had to change its Oscars plans to focus more on digital and virtual experiences. Why did you decide to partner with Twitter?

Working with Twitter for the Oscars was a no-brainer. In our early conversations with the Twitter team, we asked, "What has Twitter learned from this year of virtual award shows?” And we also asked ourselves, “What can we do differently that we haven't done in years past?” When you think about how new digital is, you realize that every launch and execution is a testing and learning opportunity. 

The Oscars is a huge event, of course, but the Academy is an organization that also focuses on how to promote our industry year-round. So as we continue to evolve, it's not just about what we do on show day and what we do to prepare for show day—it's about how we work with Twitter to create and amplify industry opportunities throughout the entire year. That way, by the time we get to show day, we've already tested and learned a year’s worth of activations, and now we're executing our strategy on a more advanced level. 

Global Movie Day was the kickoff to the awards season for us. We wanted to activate fans and get them back into the space of recognizing what they love about movies. They've missed going to theaters. They've missed seeing films on the big screen. So how do we inspire that same feeling one last time before the awards? We used Twitter for our Global Movie Day activation because it’s all about the conversation on Twitter. It's about inspiring people to connect in real-time. Twitter not only helps us track the conversation, but it also helps us understand how people like to participate. 

TWITTER: The Academy had to pivot its marketing approach this year due to the pandemic. Can you tell us more about this year’s digital strategy for the Oscars?

Innovation not only tells a story, but also teaches us a lot about ourselves as an organization. It helps us push the limits of what we’re capable of so we can do it better the following year. This year, we had the opportunity to work closely with the Oscars producers, and together we wanted to make sure that there was more fan engagement, not just conversationally but by helping people at home feel like they were a part of the show. 

We wanted fans and viewers to feel involved because they haven't been in theaters all year. They haven’t been active moviegoers like they once were. We wanted to give them an opportunity to root for the movies that they've been watching at home, and it was great to work with the Twitter team to figure that out because Twitter had the same innovative-minded goals.

With Twitter's help and through our research, we saw that gamification is a space that allows fans to feel like they're a part of the experience beyond passive viewing. The DM Predictions allowed them to feel engaged with others in the movie-watching community. And who doesn't like a little bit of competition? Giving an added incentive to play made fans feel like they weren’t just participating in something; they felt like they were getting something in return.

Overall, gamification is something we should be doing more of as we continue to evolve our digital media strategy so that the fan engagement experience doesn’t feel so one-sided.

TWITTER: We saw a great response from Twitter users with the DM Predictions activation. How has the Academy found success using the platform to drive engagement?

We use Twitter in many ways, but specifically for this year's campaign, Twitter allowed us to lean in more strategically where we thought we would make the most impact with fans. It's not just about how we're promoting the Oscars; it's also about how we're listening to our audiences and understanding what's relevant and important to them. 

The nominations were historic, for example. We had the most diverse class of nominees in the history of the Academy. And knowing that diversity and inclusion and representation resonates well on Twitter, we knew it was important to lean into these themes in our activations.

We also used learnings from Twitter to target more specific audiences and highlight underrepresented fields within the industry, like costume design or makeup and hairstyling. Twitter is an extremely important guide for us because it allows us to understand what people want versus trying to assume based on what we hear in the “Hollywood bubble.”

TWITTER: How do you think The Academy’s partnership with Twitter will evolve?

The country is opening back up, and theaters are screening films again. So for the Academy, we need to continue supporting the industry, getting people back into theaters, and using our partnerships to identify as many opportunities as possible to do that. 

International and global reach is heavy on our radar, and Twitter is going to play a major role in helping us reach broader audiences. We foresee our partnership allowing us to activate in various territories around the world because we license the Oscars internationally. We want to work with partners on Twitter to get our international fan bases just as excited for the show as people in the U.S.

We’ll also continue to innovate and evolve how we work with Twitter throughout the year. In our studio partnerships, we have an imperative to successfully promote new films. So we have to think of ways to do that with our digital audience, and that’s where Twitter comes in. We start by experimenting with Twitter products and virtual experiences as an additive component to the fan experience, and then we think about how to turn these virtual activations into a wider conversation. Scalability is very important, and Twitter knows how to scale. I’m excited to work with Twitter to scale up and create custom content that's specific to our KPIs.

We look at Twitter as a machine that’s always growing and evolving. We want to feed the machine and make it run. We want to find as many ways to do that and to work with more Twitter team members to enhance those opportunities. The sky’s the limit, but once we reach that limit, how can we go even higher?

Mike Niesz (@MikeNiesz) is a member of Twitter’s Global Content Partnerships team, focusing on strategic entertainment partnerships with broadcast networks, music publishers, TV/movie academies, and digital media partners to bring the most premium entertainment content to the platform and drive sales revenue.

  • Movies
  • Case Study
  • North America
  • Media & Entertainment

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