The Arias: red carpet winners and awards night losers on brand integration

Miranda WardThe telecast of the Aria Awards showed how good, and bad, brand integration can be argues Miranda Ward. 

Last night’s Aria Awards might not have delivered a ratings win for the Ten Network, with only 574,000 metro viewers tuning in for the two-and-a-half hour show, however its red carpet special was largely a boon for brands and network talent.

The coverage kicked off in earnest with a carefully constructed half-hour show which did much to flaunt the network’s talent, as well as sponsor David Jones’ ambassadors, melding interviews with the bevy of top musicians and celebrities attending the event whilst seamlessly dropping in other brand partners at key moments, in a way which didn’t disturb the flow.

Montana Cox and Scott Tweedie

Cox and Tweedie on the red carpet

Network Ten drafted in some of its recognised entertainment and youth reporting faces for the event, pairing The Loop hosts Ash London and Scott Tweedie with former bachelorette Laurina Fleur and DJs ambassador Montana Cox respectively, with Cox and Tweedie taking care of the musos interviews and London and Fleur handling the fashion angle. Entertainment reporter Angela Bishop was farmed off to handle the ‘veteran’ performers on the carpet.

Fleur seems to be becoming something of a regular for Ten, with her appearance on the red carpet follows her appearance on news quiz show ‘Have You Been Paying Attention’ and strongly hints that Ten are trialling her for a more permanent role with the network, although that could be in jeopardy following negative social media feedback on her debut hosting gig.

While there were moments of awkwardness when Fleur spoke without a microphone or when Cox asked a star to “give us a twirl”, the tight timing of the half-hour show ensured everything was kept short and sharp with quick cuts between the groups of hosts to ensure as many of the attendees were covered. Very professional.

Fleur and London on the red carpet

Fleur and London on the red carpet

But, for me as an advertising writer, more interesting than the fashion and stars was the integration with the ad breaks, with the hosts throwing to ads featuring Aria nominated musicians.

London and Fleur’s interview with 20-year-old musician Martha Marlow, who lent her voice to Qantas’ new brand campaign, was used to throw to a Qantas ad, and then a video of Marlow singing, a nicely integrated plug for the airline that was also a major sponsor of the event.

Bishop also plugged the new Annie film for which Australian singer Sia arranged a number of the songs and recorded a cover of ‘You’re Never Fully Dressed Without a Smile’. Sia went on to win the top gong of the night, Album of the Year.

However, the integration got somewhat clunkier once we left the red carpet.

Telstra, the event’s headline sponsor, hosted the ‘Crash the Arias’ platform which was dedicated to giving viewers a behind-the-scenes look at the awards show.

It was promoted with crosses back-stage, including an awkward and obviously pre-planned attempt to “crash” Katy Perry’s dressing room which was unsurprisingly devoid of the superstar singer, but lacked the sharpness and subtlety of the earlier efforts.

While Qantas and David Jones will probably be looking back on the event as a success with their brands neatly intertwined with the effortless cool of the stars and didn’t detract from what the night was all about – music, Telstra may well be wondering where it went wrong.

Its “Crash the Arias” content integration was clunky and awkward, and felt more like a crowbarred in afterthought than something pre-planned to slot invisibly into the television broadcast and enhance the viewer’s experience. It was not helped by the fact the awards weren’t shown live creating a disjointed sensation amongst viewers following the official Twitter feed or the #crashthearias hashtag.

On the upside, Ten’s production of the red carpet showed media buyers just how the network can integrate brands, brand ambassadors and its own talent into coverage of events.

It comes at a time when Ten is eager to please agencies with CEO Hamish McLennan making a very deliberate pitch to Australia’s media buyers to give his network a share of revenue equal to that of its audience at its annual upfronts earlier this month.

But while the red carpet show proved what Ten has definitely got the wit to do it, its coverage of the Arias demonstrated how ugly it can also be.

Miranda Ward is a journalist at Mumbrella 


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