Published February 22, 2013
6 Small Businesses Behind the Academy Awards
6 Small Businesses Behind the Academy Awards
FoxBusiness.com spoke with six businesses "behind the scenes" of the Academy Awards – from the man who designs the envelopes containing the Oscar results to the small roasting company providing all of the coffee behind the scenes – to find out how the Academy Awards has transformed their businesses.
Marc Friedland, Inc.
Marc Friedland’s “Couture Communications” company has been designing the winners’ envelopes that hold the names of Oscar recipients for the past three years, and produced the Academy Awards invites for the first time this year.
“My involvement came out of determination and dreaming,” Friedland says. “I asked myself, ‘What would be the crowning glory of my business?’ and I always knew it would be the Oscars envelope. So I took a risk and presented my idea – I don’t [think] they had understood how an envelope could be transformed into an iconic keepsake.”
In this case, an envelope is definitely not just an envelope.
“We wanted to make sure that it wasn’t just ready for its close-up onstage, but that it also functioned properly,” said Friedland. “I approach it like engineering a German sports car, in terms of the glue and the variety of custom materials.”
The level of detail has not gone unnoticed. “I just came back from overseas, where I gave a talk to luxury brands. Outside the U.S., it’s Oscar mania! With my envelope, I might as well have been Michael Jackson, it was so exciting.”
For Cheryl Cecchetto, the event planner behind the Governors Ball, the Academy Awards have truly defined her career. “Going back 26 years ago, I was the floor manager for the catering department, and then I became the event coordinator,” says Cecchetto.
Having handled the Governors Ball ever since, now under her own company Sequoia Productions, Cecchetto says that the event has had “a profound effect on my development … There’s not a lot of companies that handle events of these sizes. The word got around! It’s now our 16th year doing the Emmys as well.”
Cecchetto loves getting to work with some of the other longstanding businesses that make the ball happen each year. “It’s more than just an event – it’s the creation of so many people coming together,” she says about the creative process, which begins for Sequoia Productions in August each year.
“I view the ball like a film itself,” she says. “Everything that you do on a film, we do for the Governors Ball, from designing and casting to arranging the food and beverages, like you would for craft services on a set.”
Portland Roasting Company
A little over a week ago, this small, Oregon-based company received a call from the organizer handling backstage concessions at the Dolby Theatre.
“We submitted samples,” says Andy Davis, who handles marketing for Portland Roasting, “and they loved it, so we shipped out 60 pounds of our organic coffee and our non-chemical decaf.”
Davis says that the company’s association with the Academy Awards has already had a tremendous effect on business: “In the past week since the press release, we've had triple the amount of online orders over the previous week's same time period … The amount of nationwide exposure we’ve gotten is a little bit surprising!”
The 28 Portland Roasting employees will definitely be tuning in on Sunday, says Davis. “We’re going to try and figure out who had the regular and who had the decaf.”
Resource One Inc.
Roberta Karsch, the owner of luxury linen design company Resource One, has been outfitting the Governors Ball since the early ‘90s.
“Cheryl [Cecchetto] from Sequoia had heard about us,” says Karsch, whose company also handles linens for celebrity weddings and other high-end affairs, “and asked us to bring design concepts. The relationship just took off from there!”
The longstanding collaboration hasn’t gotten stale for Karsch: “Each year, they select a different palette and design concept. It’s very bold and vibrant this year, with a lot of chartreuse and aubergine, and accents of champagne and metallics.”
What do custom table and chair linens cost for an event like the Oscars? “It depends on the year, but it could be anywhere from $50,000 to $75,000.”
“I’ve had a personal relationship with Wolfgang Puck for over 20 years,” says Thienot President and CEO Francois Peltereau-Villeneuve, referring to the chef behind the decadent Governors Ball menu. “But this is the very first time Thienot Champagne is being served. It just paired beautifully with the food tasting he prepared.”
Peltereau-Villeneuve believes that the exclusivity of the brand is one of the reasons it was selected for the affair. “We’re a very small, boutique-y Champagne, with only 25,000 cases produced per year. You won’t see Thienot in a chain store – not that there’s anything wrong with chain stores.”
Thienot Champagnes – which generally retail for $50 to $150 a bottle – will be served at the cocktail reception prior to the show in addition to the Governors Ball. “For us, since we don’t even have the capability to produce more bottles a year, the Oscars will be more about image and brand awareness. It’s a lot of great publicity.”
Snake River Farms
Also selected by Wolfgang Puck is Snake River Farms’ Kobe beef, which is raised in Idaho. 400 pounds of Snake River’s “New York” steak will be served at the Governors Ball party.
Jay Theiler, the director of marketing for Agri Beef, which owns Snake River Farms, says that the association with Puck and the Oscars has had a tremendous effect on business. “You can’t buy this type of exposure,” says Theiler. “When someone like Wolfgang Puck believes in you … I can’t put into words what it means for a small company. We have customers who say, ‘I heard you were served there,’ or ‘I saw it on the menu.’ It’s definitely had an effect on the business.”
Theiler and other Agri Beef and Snake River Farms employees are gearing up to watch the show and Governors Ball coverage.
“We want to hear what people say about the food!” Theiler says.