The Swag Must Go On: Hollywood’s Pandemic Oscar Campaign

The Swag Must Go On: Hollywood’s Pandemic Oscar Campaign

The Swag Must Go On: Hollywood’s Pandemic Oscar Campaign

The Swag Must Go On: Hollywood’s Pandemic Oscar Campaign

Those blocks are typically brimming with voters; Paramount Pictures is there, as is Raleigh Studios, where Netflix rents production space. With most people in Los Angeles still holed up at home, however, the thoroughfare was eerily quiet last Monday at 5:30 p.m. Actual crickets were chirping at Paramount’s closed Bronson Gate, which bore a sign reading, “Per government direction, access to the studio is now restricted.”

Comical at best, absurd at worst?

“The public must be so confused,” Ms. Stone said.

None of the studios or streaming services angling for awards would comment for this article. Campaigning, while commonplace, remains a taboo subject. No film company wants to look as if it is trying to manipulate voters.

It is easy to understand where they are coming from, though.

“Like a political campaign, you have to crest at the right moment,” said Paul Hardart, director of the entertainment, media and technology program at New York University’s Stern School of Business. “You need the maximum exposure at that time. And that’s a hard thing to do. How do you become top of mind at the right time?”

So the swag must go on.

As part of its promotional effort for “Nomadland,” about an impoverished van dweller, Searchlight Pictures sent a bound copy of the screenplay to awards voters. The Hollywood press corps received “Nomadland” wine glasses, a “Nomadland” license plate, “Nomadland” keychains, a “Nomadland” T-shirt and a 5-by-2-foot “Nomadland” windshield sunshade.

To celebrate the film’s Feb. 18 virtual premiere, Searchlight teamed with local small businesses to have a “curated concessions crate” delivered to the homes of invitees. It included artisanal beef jerky, wild berry jam, oranges, pears, dried apricots, dill pickle slices, banana bread, salami (“humanely raised”) and a canister of chocolates.


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