I’m sensing a trend when it comes to the Academy Awards, which gave its Best Picture award to Birdman last night. The Michael Keaton-starrer was about a former superhero actor who wants to be important, so he stages a play.
Two years ago, the winner was Argo, Ben Affleck’s opus about how a fake movie got a handful of Canadians out of Iran. And the year before, the winner was The Artist, a look at the silent movie era.
We can debate the merits of those three films, but one thing is clear. Like the rest of us, the members of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences like to see an aspirational version of themselves.
That sentiment, of course, is the first rule of having any winning brand. Your must be an aspirational, emotional reflection of the target audience that you are trying to reach.
Three times in the last four years, the Oscars chose to honor a film that is the best representation of themselves: An actor looking to redeem himself. A federal agent posing as a producer in a fake movie to save lives. An actor and actress standing on the cusp of a new art form.
These are what we call brand faces, what the reflection looks like when the target audiences looks at your brand.
There are certainly other reasons why some movies win and others don’t. Some are just better. Some promote a message the academy wants to promote. Some are seen as representative of the year.
But if recent history is any example, the academy members have been more sensitive to their relevancy in the world. It’s foolish to speculate why that emotion may run high (without quantitative research) and it may just because there have been three good (but not great) movies on the subject.
The lesson here, however, that winning brands are that emotional brand face. That’s why the Oscars celebrated Birdman.