Ellen DeGeneres ordered everyone pizza at the Oscars. Was it an odd choice to feed a bunch of well-dressed celebrities greasy pizza? Maybe. Was it ingenious social media bait? Most certainly. I’m not sure how the Oscars worked back in 1929, but now it’s absolutely vital that the audience is entertained. This isn’t just the audience at the show, nor is it just the audience watching at home, but it’s also the audience on social media. Any marketing content writer will tell you that.
And the Award Goes To…
Demian Farnworth wrote an article on Copyblogger that went through 10 ways for a marketing content writer to write good copy. He said that writing an effective copy is both “an art and a science.” The art comes from being creative with your content. The science comes from Bill Nye – just kidding. According to Farnworth, copy exists in a world of “tests, trial and failure, improvement, breakthroughs, education and predictability.” In order to make good content, both art and science must work together.
This is where the Oscars come in.
In Farnworth’s article, there is a section that explains what Ellen did during the show: the Conversational Copy. “You write as if there is a conversation between two people: the copywriter and the prospect.” In the case of the Oscars we had the marketing content writer (Ellen) and the prospect (the audience at the show, the viewers at home, and those taking to social media). Willa Paskin of Slate.com wrote, “She started slowly – opening with literally a joke about the weather – and then, from a certain perspective, proceeded to affably spend the night changing costumes and ordering famous people – who are just like us! – pizza, while never taking a clear shot at anyone other than Liza Minnelli.” However, Tim Goodman of The Hollywood Reporter had a different opinion. “Who would have predicted that it would have been so boring, so long, so self-involved and driven sideways into a ditch by, of all people, the beloved Ellen DeGeneres as host?”
This brings me back to Farmworth’s article and his thoughts on creativity and science – particularly the science side. It’s a constant experiment to see who the Oscar crowd will enjoy. The results, every year, vary, but even with Ellen’s negative reviews there seems to be an overall consensus about it: the Academy was playing it safe because of last year’s show. “Perhaps Oscar producers Craig Zadan and Neil Meron felt they were playing it safe after the controversy their 2013 host Seth MacFarlane generated,” said Goodman. Lisa De Moraes of Deadline agreed with the safe choice. “She hosted the first Academy Awards since MacFarlane opened the Oscars with ‘We Saw Your Boobs’ and followed it up with a crack about John Wilkes Booth (rather than nominee Daniel Day-Lewis) being the actor who best got into President Lincoln’s head.” Ouch.
But is this really a victory if only half the votes are positive?
If you listen to what social media has to say, the answer is a resounding yes.
Best Supporting Thespian: Social Media
There’s no spelling “content writing” without “social media.” Amanda Clark of Business 2 Community explains it best in her article
about the Four Pillars of Content Marketing. “Social media, in a content marketing sense, is when a business builds up a presence on platforms and uses them to engage with mob audiences, share content and promote themselves. The trick is to practice two-way communication – a ludicrous, impossible task with billboards.” As far as the Oscars goes the audience doesn’t just watch the show, they tweet about it, post about it on Facebook, share pictures and gifs on Tumblr, an entire dialogue is created online before the show even ends.
This is where Ellen shined. Mixed performance reviews or not all of Sunday night was filled with pictures of celebrities eating pizza and a certain A-list selfie that broke the world record of most retweeted picture. If that doesn’t showcase the importance of social media, I’m not sure what does. Paskin says it best in her article in regards to the mixed reviews Ellen received. “By the time the show rolls around again, the montages, the terrible patter, and the sheer length have faded from our memories, and we are just left with the memorable moments.” What is it that we take from the Oscars? Those moments that stand out for years to come. MacFarlane’s performance, which is now a year old, is remembered as being and, to some, an unnecessarily offensive disaster. How will Ellen’s be remembered? That one time she ordered pizza and tweeted the most retweeted picture in history.
The Curtain Call
Ellen’s performance is exactly the impression you want from your content writing. While someone may not remember your entire piece, you want them remember something important, something positive. Frankly, you want them to remember the pizza and the selfies.