In the view of Deadline‘s Pete Hammond, a personally-funded FYC Oscar ad, like the one Melissa Leo recently ran for a few days, can be a politically risky thing.
To me, Hammond seemed to be suggesting that the only politically acceptable form of award-season advertising is the kind created and funded by distributors and their highly paid marketing gurus. Heaven forbid that someone like Leo, the Fighter costar who’s a near lock to win the Best Supporting Actress Oscar, might want to elbow her way past the refusal of magazines to put over-45 ladies on their covers by taking some glammy shots of herself and booking a few website ads to show them off.
The ads half-alluded to the fact that Leo is superb in The Fighter, of course, but also to the fact that she’s highly spirited and attractive.
Ads are always judged in terms of style, class and tone, and Leo’s now-disappeared ads, I feel, got it right. They were fine. She looked great. No harm done. We’ve all been so trained to squint our eyes and arch our backs whenever an individual takes out an ad of any kind. Only corporations and major companies can do this!
Hammond’s view is primarily due to faint but lingering memories of the notoriously self-generated Chill Wills Alamo ad campaign of 1960, which sought to generate support for Wills’ Best Supporting Actor-nominated performance. It was widely seen as an embarassment, and it failed to boot — Peter Ustinov won for his performance as Lentulus Batiatus in Spartacus.
Leo told Hammond that she “did hear a lot of very positive comments, particularly from women of a certain age who happen to act for a living and happen to understand full well the great dilemma and mystery of getting a cover of a magazine. I also heard there were negative comments, but no one said them to my face, sadly. I like to hear what people think. I could explain myself.”