Oscars Roadtrip Drawing Fans, Celebrities as Statuette Travels Country (Video)
"We're not doing it as a commercial for the show; we're doing it because fans will enjoy it," the Academy's Josh Spector says of the inaugural event.
While the Oscar statue is typically associated with Hollywood, this year it's been visiting cities all over the country.
The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences last week kicked off its inaugural Oscar Roadtrip, a three-week-long event that give fans in various cities the chance to hold and take photos with an actual statuette. The Oscar trip, which started Feb. 4 in New York, hits a total of 11 cities, including Philadelphia, Baltimore, Dallas and Phoenix, before finishing up at the Academy Awards ceremony in Hollywood on Feb. 24.
Josh Spector, managing director of digital media and marketing at the Academy, said the reception so far in the various cities has been positive.
"People are just so excited to see it, and it really is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity," he says. "When you think about the Oscar statues, it's basically the third-most-recognized brand in the world, behind Coke and McDonald's. Everybody knows the statue, but few people are ever able to interact with it beyond watching the show."
He added that the fans who have come out to the various events have been active in sharing that experience on social media, noting that part of the Academy's strategy is to grow its social media presence. He pointed out that the Academy's social media following (across Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and other sites combined) has grown from about 430,000 fans in November 2011, when he joined the organization, to 1.8 million today.
"We want to do things that are unexpected and fun and really about the fans, as opposed to being about us," Spector said. "We're not doing it as a commercial for the show; we're doing it because fans will enjoy it."
To that end, some of the locations that the Oscar statue visits are being determined by social media. So far, the stops have included Katz's Delicatessen in New York (where the famous When Harry Met Sally … fake-orgasm scene was shot); the steps leading up to the entrance of the Philadelphia Museum of Art in Philadelphia, also known as the "Rocky Steps"; and a military base in Fort Meade, Md. Upcoming stops include Houston, with the trip planned to coincide with NBA All-Star Weekend.
Spector added that there has been significant support from the media on both the national and local level, with coverage on The Wendy Williams Show and Good Morning America, among other outlets. In addition, celebrities including Reba McEntire and Richard Simmons have also taken part in various events related to the event, which is being chronicled in videos, photos and blog posts by Oscar Roadtrip reporters Ben Gleib and Angie Greenup on OscarRoadtrip.com as well as on Twitter and Facebook.
While Spector said it's too early to say whether this will become an annual event, he added, "We're really pleased with how this is going, not just from an Academy standpoint but also in terms of the fan reaction. … As much as the Oscars and the Academy are about being aspirational, we also want to be accessible."
Meanwhile, in case you're wondering, the Oscar that's traveling the country will, in fact, be one of the many handed out come Oscar night, although it hasn't yet been determined for which category.
The 85th Annual Academy Awards are set to take place Feb. 24 at Hollywood & Highland Center, with Seth MacFarlane hosting, and airing live on ABC.
Watch video from the Oscars Roadtrip with Richard Simmons and at Katz's Deli below.
Pictured, above left: The in Philadelphia and Roadtrip reporters Ben Gleib and Angie Greenup at the Academy of Natural Sciences Museum in Philadelphia. Credit: Academy of Motion Picture Art & Sciences
Pictured, above right: Oscar Roadtrip visited the nation’s military personnel at Fort Meade, Md. and gave them a chance for an Oscar moment. Credit: USO of Metropolitan Washington