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Is L Oreal Staying Home on Oscar Night?

Is L’Oreal Paris pulling out of the Academy Awards?Some well placed folks suggest that the beauty giant won’t be back this year, but neither ABC nor the marketing behemoth will confirm the chatter. (ABC is waiting until Super Bowl is out of the way before discussing Oscar.) L’Oreal was one of the biggest advertisers on the network on Hollywood’s big day alongside General Motors and Coca-Cola Co., and spent $11.8 million on three minutes and 30 seconds of ads (or eight spots) last year, according to TNS Media Intelligence.

If L’Oreal doesn’t reappear it will be the second major advertiser to pull out. General Motors said it wouldn’t be back, though Korean auto company Hyundai stepped up instead.

ABC may be able to replace missing ad dollars with movie studio money. The Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences is permitting movies to advertise during the Oscars for the first time. Not only is ABC’s Oscar coverage competing with NBC’s Super Bowl (see related, “NBC Not Slashing Super Bowl Prices…Yet”), but another major news event, the Presidential inauguration, which attracted numerous big name advertisers.

According to agency reports, the cost of advertising in the Oscars has come down quite a bit. A 30-second commercial is selling in the range of $1.4 million to $1.5 million. Last year, even as the writer’s strike threatened to derail the event, ABC was able to command as much as $1.8 million.

The Oscars, airing on February 22 this year, attracted 32 million U.S. viewers last year. The number of commercial minutes fell in 2008 to 23 minutes, down from 24 minutes the previous year, according to Nielsen Monitor-Plus. Forty three commercials appeared in all.

According to Nielsen’s commercial ratings ranking for last year, L’Oreal did well with its Oscar spots notching the third most watched commercial of the event with a 10.8 commercial minute rating. Only J.C. Penney’s ads did better.