SOBER SESSION: The Real Oscar Winner, Big Mama’s & Papa’s Pizza

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First and foremost, the Academy Awards are a televised awards show, put on annually to honor (and occasionally snub) the greats in the movie-making industry. But as a very close second they are the largest publicity event for the films and actors that have been nominated, the Academy, and the film industry overall.

They dominate upwards of three hours of primetime television every year. But even though the 43.7 million viewers sat down to binge on beautiful people, exceptional films, and shiny trophies, they never expected they’d end up binging on pizza.

What started as another annual publicity plug for all the Oscar nominees spontaneously shifted to a free advertisement for local pizza chain Big Mama’s and Papa’s Pizza when host Ellen DeGeneres brought the delivery man on stage to pass out pies to Hollywood’s biggest and brightest.

A couple sources (namely the LA Times and TMZ) did the math. Big Mama’s & Papa’s had about three minutes of air time during the Oscars, between handing out the pizza and collecting the tip. According to TMZ, a thirty-second commercial during the Oscars cost about $1.8 million. After a little multiplication, it turns out those three minutes served as a free $10.8 million Oscar ad for the chain.

But the fame train for Big Mama’s & Papa’s didn’t end with the Oscars. Owner and deliveryman Edgar was featured the next day on Ellen’s live post-Oscar special. After a brief interview with Ellen, pies were passed out to all 320 audience members.

Aside from the money the chain saved, and the second-day story it achieved, the scope of this surprise publicity reached pretty far. In addition to the Oscars being the highest rated Academy Awards in the past 14 years, Ellen’s live post-Oscar special was her highest rated show in the program’s eleven year history.

So, in the past couple days, Mama’s & Papa’s broadcast free ads to tens of millions of people, received plenty of media attention (and that’s saying something if TMZ is following a pizza guy around over an a-lister), and was invited onto one of the most popular talk shows on the air. Oh, and Edgar got a $1,000 tip. Who really was the biggest winner of the Oscars?

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