Aug 13, 2018

The creative digital and social campaigns inspired to increase engagement.

Televised award shows are no longer a purely linear TV attraction. As viewers have become increasingly tied to their smartphones, producers of live tentpoles have found new and interesting ways to create second-screen experiences that translate the excitement of the small screen to other channels and platforms—before, during, and after the shows.

Integrated campaigns, fueled by innovative technology and social media, promote the programs as well as a feed a connection with fans that exists beyond the TV screen. Consider something as unanticipated as the 2017 Academy Awards, when the Best Picture flub generated over 635,000 social engagements moments after it happened—proving that when live TV moments happen, people want to be part of the cultural conversation.

The pre-planned moments and campaigns have also created new ways for brands to be a part of the conversation. Whether it’s Walmart’s multi-year sponsorship of a filmmaking program tied to the Oscars or Taco Bell’s sponsorship of VMA voting tools, brands can be part of on-screen experiences in ways that extend beyond traditional commercial pods, even using new formats like  Twitter’s Conversational Ads and Facebook’s Canvas Ads.

In honor of the upcoming MTV VMAs, we’ve rounded up a few of history’s most interesting and innovative integrated award show moments, from Leonardo DiCaprio accepting his Oscar on Snapchat to Madonna’s hologram appearing at the Grammys more than a decade ago.

MTV Video Music Awards


Year: 2018


Categorical standout: Voting capabilities for fans


MTV became one of the first social accounts to use the newly-introduced IGTV feature on Instagram in June. The network used popular influencers like Nyle DiMarco, Tessa Brook and Scotty Sire to announce the nominees for the Aug. 20 VMAs to reach the millions of fans who follow each social media personality.

The network also opened up voting through Twitter by allowing fans to direct message their votes for each category. It is the first major awards show to accept votes through Amazon’s Alexa.

“We want customers to be able to ask Alexa for help with anything and that means helping third-party developers create rich voice experiences for Alexa—from checking an account balance to calling a cab or even voting for the MTV Video Music Awards,” Steve Rabuchin, vice president, Amazon Alexa, wrote in an email to Adweek.

All you have to say is: “Alexa, vote for the VMAs.”

Academy Awards


Year: 2017


Categorical standout: Digital all-access


The Oscars created its own behind-the-scenes “all access” platform to show viewers all the details of what goes into making film’s biggest night come together. The production to draw viewers to the award show, even won its own award, an Emmy in 2017 for Outstanding Creative Achievement in Interactive Media Within an Unscripted Program.

Ahead of the 2017 awards, the Academy announced nominees on digital platforms for the first time. For last year’s awards, the Academy announced Facebook Watch as the exclusive platform to view a live stream of the ceremony.


Another moment in Oscars history worth mentioning: Snapchat used the much-talked-about affair to its advantage in 2016 by using the ceremony to launch its web player app, which allowed users to watch videos outside of Snapchat for the first time. The videos highlighted featured the night’s biggest moments like DiCaprio accepting his first-ever Oscar and Morgan Freeman announcing “Spotlight” was taking home the award for Best Picture.

Billboard Music Awards


Year: 2014


Categorical standout: Adding a new dimension to broadcast


The Grammy Awards first featured a hologram onstage in 2006, when Madonna appeared alongside the Gorillaz. But this visual effect reached new status when a holographic Michael Jackson took the stage at the 2014 Billboard Music Awards with the hopes that seeing a departed musical icon return to the stage would amp up viewership. It’s unclear if the King of Pop was the reason, but that year’s BBMAs hit a 13-year ratings high compared to the years prior.

An honorable mention for marketers, The Recording Academy, which produces the Grammy Awards, has promoted its organization within the award ceremony before, but in 2018 it placed more of a push on the organization itself and the process behind the music to get people interested in what the Grammys are all about — the best music of the year.

In a minute-long TV commercial and a series of print ads, the Recording Academy featured industry members and professionals such as artist H.E.R, producer Swizz Beatz, engineer Ann Mincieli and music director and composer Rickey Minor, all discussing the importance of creators, as well as a mention of how music professionals should get paid fairly. The ads highlighted mostly those in the hip-hop community at a time when the Grammys faced considerable backlash for snubbing hip-hop artists and creators.

Nickelodeon’s Kids’ Choice Sports Year: 2018


Year: 2018


Categorical Standout: Capitalizing on trends


To get kids interested in the Kids’ Choice Sports Awards beyond just sports, the team at Nickelodeon incorporated the hottest trends into video content for Instagram — including things like a Snapchat Hotdog meme, an “interactive” fidget spinner, a DIY video on how to make gold slime and a nail tutorial inspired by the Kids’ Choice Awards.

The campaign resulted in the KCAs becoming the No. 1 primetime show for kids and family on July 16.

iHeartRadio Music Awards

Year: 2016

Categorical Standout: Viewer engagement

The social team at iHeartRadio centered its awards on fan-friendly content at the 2016 iHeartRadio music awards to make sure the people they wanted watching, were listening. The company used the MSQRD app as artists walked the red carpet of the ceremony to create face swaps and other filtered photos, while they also utilized Twitter’s Challenger app to feature brief interviews with artists—specifically asking them to provide their own version of DJ Khaled’s Keys to Success.

In an additional social push, the brand announced winners via Facebook and Twitter, as well as on the iHeartRadio app with select winners getting an exclusive reveal on Twitter by host Letty Martinez.

This year, iHeartRadio is making the awards even more of an affair by stretching the winner announcements over the course of a week. Seven awards will be presented in the seven nights ahead of March 11 ceremony, each night at 8 p.m. iHeartRadio accepts social votes by tagging #iHeartAwards on Twitter, Facebook or Instagram along with a vote for your favorite artist. The 2017 iHeartRadio Awards saw a year-over-year gain in overall viewership, according to Showbuzz.