Why Netflix Spent $25 million on its Roma Oscars Campaign

Feb 25, 2019

Netflix really, really wanted Roma to win a few statues at last night’s Academy Awards.

The streaming site spent $15 million making Roma, then about twice that trying to get an Oscar or two.

The film is not the first to campaign to urge the 8,000 members of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences to vote a certain way. Marketing campaigns for Oscar contenders date back to the ‘30s. But the efforts have really ramped up in the last few decades (Harvey Weinstein pioneered some of the more extreme, and shadier, tactics).

The Oscars have stricter rules on courting votes than other awards season ceremonies. To curry favor with Golden Globes voters, Netflix sent Oaxacan chocolates and film posters signed by Roma’s star Yalitza Aparicio and director Alfonso Cuarón. It invited them to a party hosted by Angelina Jolie. For the Oscars, much of Roma’s $25 million awards campaign budget was spent on advertising and positive PR for the film.

Image via dailybillboardblog.com

There’s a monetary incentive for movie studios to invest in the Academy Awards. Films that are nominated and win awards see a bump in revenue. But for Netflix, a win was about more than short-term sales.

Despite losing its bid to win Best Picture to Green Book, Netflix’s prestigious Oscar showing last night elevated its industry standing. Hollywood directors, stars and reporters now must consider Netflix an equal to the major movie studios.

The value of industry awards

That’s not exclusive to the film industry. The right nomination or award win can reshape an organization’s reputation among its competitors and customers.

Roma is a critically acclaimed film with near-universal positive reviews (96 percent on Rotten Tomatoes). It should have been an Oscar contender in its own right.

But Netflix’s epic awards push offers an important reminder for all industries. Whether it’s an Oscar or an ultra-niche industry recognition, the awards process matters. Usually, organizations have to nominate themselves. Judges and voters are looking for something special that makes specific entrants stand out.

Long story short: Brands are more likely to be recognized for their good work if people know about it. Putting a little strategy and marketing magic into any awards process can greatly increase the chances of getting your product, service or film the accolades it deserves.

This article also appeared in our weekly newsletter, Long Story Short. It was written by Alex Irwin.

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