Davidcard[Posted by David Card]

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The Nielsen overnights suggest that this year’s Oscar telecast beat last year’s all-time low. It’s no Super Bowl, but the Academy Awards are still a big hit. I was worried ratings would suffer due to a lack of buzz-worthy — ah, what the heck, I’ll say it — actually popular movies among the top contenders. While the all-time best rated Oscarcast coincided with the modern era’s box-office champ’s big day — Titanic in 1997 — it turns out there’s no consistent trend linking big movies and big shows.

Like me, ABC and the Academy was also nervous, and they tweaked the show’s format a bit. The critical reaction is mixed. The show still ran too long and its pacing moved in fits and starts, but I thought Hugh Jackman’s Broadway via Hollywood act worked okay, and the raw star wattage of five previous winners presenting the acting awards was very compelling. Billy Crystal was the host back in 1997, and comics that skewed young have only done fair-to-middling with TV audiences, and have been murdered by critics.

Ads were discounted a bit, and the Academy allowed a few movie ads for the first time. But a lot of the usual suspects stayed away, leaving JC Penney, Hyundai, Coke, and ABC house ads to dominate. Hyundai’s combination of "hey, we win awards and have luxury models" alongside its aggressive recession-protection Assurance Plus offer still feels just a little awkward to me, but they hammered the message home. I liked the Coke in Italy spot — a classic, with a hint of movie homage — and JC Penney appeared bright and cheerful. And there was at least one Bank of America spot that felt a bit risky but delivered a "we’ll get through this together" sentiment.

Oh, and I won the Card family pool. I got 18 of 24 picks, the best I’ve ever done. I was swinging for the fences with Mickey Rourke, and I shoulda remembered Pixar never gets the short. And what’s up with Foreign Language? I had Waltz with Bashir and thought I might miss out to The Class. But a Japanese heart-tugging comedy? My real faves.

Some Forrester recession marketing research reports.