How 3 Smart Companies Plan to Cash in on the Oscars

The buzz around the Academy Awards may be all about the big names -- from the celebrities to the celebrity dress designers -- but that hasn't stopped small businesses from getting in on the action, on or off the red carpet. Check out how three companies are using the Oscars to give their businesses a boost.

The celebrity strategy
Jo Mousselli started her company, Xtreme Lashes, in the game room of her house. To get the lash extension business off the ground, Mousselli knew she needed more than name recognition; she needed to develop a brand strategy that linked Xtreme Lashes with luxury, says spokeswoman Judy Sultan. "When clients see actresses and models around the globe wearing our brand, they automatically identify our brand with luxury and quality."

Mousselli reached out to big red carpet events like the Latin Grammys, the Cannes Film Festival and the Oscars, and got her lash extensions into their gift suites, guaranteeing that celebs would pick them up. The company lets celebrities try them on, then takes their pictures and distributes them online and through social media to increase their exposure to would-be clients. (That's Mousselli with actress Shanon Elizabeth at last year's Oscars.) The red-carpet strategy has helped the company grow from one woman working out of her house to a firm of more than 50 employees, and international franchises in 28 countries.
The movies-as-a-marketing-theme strategy
This year, gifts.com decided to market its wares in a new way, with a gift guide based on the Oscar nominees for best picture. Need to buy a present for someone who loved "127 Hours?" Try the Camelback Hydration Pack. "True Grit" more their style? Then the Wildlife Fire Pit is the present to buy. The 30-person team had fun with the strategy -- even if the best picture category has ballooned to 10 films. "The fact that there were so many nominees made it more of a challenge, but it gave us more inspired gift ideas in the end, so we love it," says Trend Expert Dana Schultze Holmes.

The Oscar fever strategy
On Location Tours, a New York company that runs tours of TV landmarks from shows like "Sex and the City," "The Sopranos," and "Gossip Girl," is launching a "Classic New York TV and Movie Sites Tour" in honor of the big awards show. The three-hour, 30-stop tour include visits to the subway grate from Marilyn Monroe's iconic skirt-flying moment in "The Seven Year Itch," Holly Golightly's apartment from "Breakfast at Tiffany's" and the bench where Woody Allen and Diane Keaton watched the sun rise in "Manhattan." The company will debut the $40 tour on February 26 "to synchronize with Oscar season," and it will run biweekly after the start date, says spokeswoman Pauline Gacanja. The company is bringing on more tour guides -- real actors and actresses only -- to handle increased customer volume.

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(Photo courtesy of Xtreme Lashes)