Last month we discussed The Power of Cinema and the shared experience it brings but it is evident that our interest in shared experiences in the realm of the movie industry extends beyond the films themselves. In wake of the 2017 Academy Awards on Sunday night, it seems that the results themselves are not what has people talking; La La Land being wrongly named Best Picture winner in place of Moonlight has been the focal point of search and conversation in the UK. It seems that we can’t get enough of the awkward moment.
To contextualise the volume of interest surrounding Sunday night’s awards ceremony, there were four times more Google searches for the Academy Awards than the peak in search for the Six Nations Championships at the weekend and over 100 times more than searches about the Labour Party, who have featured heavily in the news over the weekend.
Globally, the Top Related Query was the blue ribbons worn in support of the American Civil Liberties Union, whereas in the UK, the Oscars Mistake accounts for the Top 5 Related Queries. So why do we as a nation have such an interest in things going wrong? A word exists in the German language that perfectly captures the nature of our interest; “Schadenfreude” is defined as “satisfaction or pleasure felt at someone else’s misfortune” (Dictionary.com). This is not to suggest that the UK is a cynical nation but it is somewhat indicative of our sense of humour. This type of misfortune is simply a light-hearted misunderstanding but it has garnered so much attention due to the awkwardness created by the live nature of the event and the global stage on which the mistake occurred; anyone who watches the video clip that has been circling every news publisher’s website since Sunday’s ceremony can clearly see this. Good Morning America’s clip of the event has been circling Twitter in the UK, illustrating the global social media landscape in which we live and the range of sources that brands have to compete with.
— Good Morning America (@GMA) February 27, 2017
The vast news coverage illustrates the prioritisation of negative and cynical news frames, which has been widely analysed in academic circles, but it is the widespread use of humour that has stemmed from this that is particularly relevant. The content that has been most engaged with in the UK on Twitter has poked fun at the events that transpired, from comedians to directors, a whole range of people wanted to join the collective mockery. Incongruity is a foundation of humour and the incongruous nature of a mistake at one of the most carefully planned events in the entertainment industry provides the perfect platform for this.
What does this mean for brands?
The high volume of engagement in the immediate aftermath of these unexpected events provides an opportunity for brands to tap into this conversation if they are quick to react and relevant in their communications.
Specsavers have been the quickest to react to the mistake made at Sunday’s awards ceremony with a tweet posted at 11:30am on Monday. They utilised their widely known tagline in a piece of simple creative execution that has already received over 3,000 retweets and 6,000 likes on Twitter and 5,000 shares and 22,000 likes on Facebook. This demonstrates the potential engagement that brands can achieve with reactive content that fits with their brand personality.
— Specsavers (@Specsavers) 27 February 2017
Why don’t we see this more often?
The entertainment industry is politically neutral, for the most part, and is often seen as a place for the expression of free speech. Those involved are the elite of the industry, the super-rich and often image-conscious celebrities of the big and small screen, which can often make them a target for ridicule. This provides a safe opportunity for brands to engage in the conversation without appearing to have any bias.
The speed at which these events lose relevance and drop out of conversation means being quick to react with your communications is paramount. This is a significant limitation for many brands, who don’t have the potential to produce and distribute creative in such a short turnaround time; therefore, living up to buzzwords like ‘always on’ and ‘socially connected’ is key if your brand hopes to play a significant part in conversation surrounding social events like this.