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Are Hyundai and Oscar on a Collision Course?

The auto maker confirms plans to run nine ads on the Oscar show, which may be tricky given AMPAS rules

The plot thickens.

Wednesday afternoon, I wrote about the Academy’s rules on advertising during the Oscar show, and how the restrictions governing commercials that feature Oscar nominees could affect Hyundai if the auto manufacturer bought commercial time on the show, as it did in 2009.

At the time, I didn’t know if Hyundai, whose ads use uncredited voiceovers from all-but-certain Best Actor nominee Jeff Bridges, was planning to once again be an Oscar sponsor.

The Academy referred me to ABC for sponsorship questions … ABC said they couldn’t release the names of any sponsors, and referred me to Hyundai … and, late in the afternoon, a Hyundai spokesperson confirmed the company’s plans.

Jeff BridgesHyundai will be the exclusive automotive sponsor of the 82nd Academy Awards, and will run nine ads during the show. And yes, those ads will feature Bridges’ voiceovers. A company spokesperson said he was unaware of any potential conflicts.

But if AMPAS plays by its rules, conflicts are virtually inevitable. Academy restrictions on commercials featuring nominees (live or voiceover) specify that the ads can run, but they must be separated by one hour from the point in the show when the nominee’s category is presented.

And if that nominee is also a presenter, the ads must run an hour away from his or her other appearance as well.

With the Oscar show typically running 13 acts, which means it includes a dozen commercial breaks, it would be extraordinarily difficult to fit nine ads into the show and still leave an hour between those ads and the presentation of Best Actor.

Maybe the Academy will treat this situation differently because Bridges is offscreen and uncredited (though it’s obviously him). Maybe a different kind of compromise will be made.

However it plays out, $12.5 million (the ballpark figure for what Hyundai’s ads likely cost) is powerful incentive to make things work.

(Photo by Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images)