PhillyDeals: Phila. analysts watch big events for placements

When Oscar host Ellen DeGeneres ordered pizza during Sunday's event, many noticed the Coca-Cola logo on the pizza boxes. While rival Pepsi was among the Oscar sponsors, Coca-Cola got $1.4M worth of brand exposure.
When Oscar host Ellen DeGeneres ordered pizza during Sunday's event, many noticed the Coca-Cola logo on the pizza boxes. While rival Pepsi was among the Oscar sponsors, Coca-Cola got $1.4M worth of brand exposure. (KEVIN WINTER / Getty Images)
Posted: March 05, 2014

When something like 40 million Americans watch the Oscars on a Sunday night - and when more than 100 million watch the Super Bowl, as they did earlier this winter - Eddie Decker and his team of analysts from Front Row Marketing in South Philly are watching the watchers.

At the firm's "war room" at Comcast-Spectacor's Wells Fargo Center, and on site at the events, they watch the shows and the brand-name products in ads, the paid placements and accidental appearances throughout the programming.

Decker's analytics team also scans Twitter, YouTube, Facebook and other social-media and viral-video sites for viewer reactions.

The findings of the 12-person analytics group are sold to clients of Front Row, a 60-person Comcast-Spectacor unit whose main business is negotiating sponsorship deals among sports teams, entertainment venues, producers, and product marketers.

Clients for that business have included Oakley sunglasses, Giant Foods, the Eagles, 76ers, and Seattle Seahawks, Cisco, and the Michigan Lottery.

"Analytics gets in your head," says Decker, who studied sports management at Drexel University. "I can't watch hockey without thinking, 'Man, they missed great signage on the boards there.' "

 Front Row's analysts tracked The Macallan single-malt Scotch whiskey in the last James Bond film, and Bud Light in the Adam Sandler movie That's My Boy. The Internet and social media have made it simpler for advertisers to measure the impact of the coverage they buy and shape their messages in rapid response to the mood of a target group of consumers. By comparing paid-advertising costs to the amount, size, duration, and reaction given to products mentioned, Front Row hopes to assign clearer values to potential product placements and sponsorships.

So, for weeks before the Oscars, Decker and his team, who report to Front Row senior vice president Eric Smallwood, were checking traffic that consumers were posting on Facebook, as well as marketers and brand managers on Twitter, in reaction to the contending movies, actors and sponsors.

They calculated, for example, that Samsung Galaxy gained more than $1.2 million worth of exposure to U.S. viewers - and more abroad - from the use of one of its mobile Android phones by hostess Ellen DeGeneres in a widely retweeted selfie photo she posted, where she is framed by award-winning actors, Smallwood told me.

And despite the fact that Pepsi paid to sponsor the Oscars, rival Coca-Cola managed to get $1.4 million worth of brand exposure from its logo being printed on the boxes of Big Mama's & Papa's Pizzeria pizzas that were delivered on camera. That's what ad people call "guerrilla marketing."

Front Row's direct audience is limited and specialized - a few thousand followers received its "tweet-to-tweet coverage" of Oscars arcana.

Some of those have mass audiences: Darren Rovell of ESPN picked up the Coca-Cola estimate and blasted it out to more than 400,000 followers.

That's the idea, Decker concluded: "It's to get our own brand awareness out there," among the brands most likely to pay for real-time ad intelligence.


jdistefano@phillynews.com

215-313-3124

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