The Oscars have taken a beating over the lack of African-American nominees for the second year in a row, but the show’s advertisers appear to be shrugging off protests and a possible boycott by sympathetic actors. So far, none have pulled ads, according to a new survey.
Director Spike Lee, actress Jada Pinkett Smith and activist Al Sharpton are leading the boycott and urging others to do the same.
“Telling people to tune out will send a message to advertisers,” Sharpton said in a videotaped statement. “If we cannot change the hearts of Hollywood, we can at least change the bottom line.”
So far none of the show’s 30 sponsors have pulled their ads, according to the National Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences, which sponsors Hollywood’s signature awards.
Kohl’s is this year’s official sponsor, replacing Penney’s. The retailer filled that role for the past 14 broadcasts, according to trade magazine Ad Age.
If viewership plummets, advertisers who stick with the show could be hurt along with the Academy and ABC, which is airing the 88th Academy Awards ceremony, Sunday, Feb. 28.
The average cost of a 30-second commercial last year was $1.9 million. This year, ABC sold out its inventory at a record $2.15 million per 30-second spot. Ratings fell last year to their lowest level since 2009, according to the trade rag.
The 2014 Oscars pulled 20.6 household rating, down 17 percent, and drew 37.3 million viewers. Ironically, the controversy may actually help ratings this year, because of all the pre-show publicity. Then, again, maybe not. Last year’s Oscars, also all-white, were tuned out by African-Americans. They made up only 6 percent of the audience compared to a turnout that typically averages around 8 percent when African-Americans are nominated, according to Ad Age figures. Boycotters are also getting some push back, most notably from actress Janet Hubert, who played opposite Will Smith on his hit sit-com “Fresh Prince of Bel Air.”
She claimed their protest was self-serving because Will wasn’t nominated for an Oscar for his role in “Concussion.” Let us know your thoughts and be sure to follow IM on Twitter for the latest Oscars news. Follow TheImproper