[By Schintelle Harte]

This year’s 89th Academy Awards, which aired on Sunday, Feb. 26, was definitely a night to remember. The annual ceremony, which recognizes cinematic achievements in film, drew in millions of viewers and was watched in over 225 countries around the world.

But Oscars weren’t the only thing being handed out. About an hour into the show, first-time host, Jimmy Kimmel, dropped a sweet surprise for the star-studded crowd.

“This is a show about the movies, and you really can’t have movies without candy, it’s un-American,” said Kimmel.

“If you close your eyes and wish very hard, little bags of Red Vines and Junior Mints will appear from the sky raining down on you for your delight.”

Oscars Candy

Sure enough, little bags filled with boxes of Junior Mints and Red Vines parachuted down from the ceiling, drawing cheerful reactions from the celebrity audience.

The best part, neither Red Vines nor Junior Mints was in on it, according to spokespeople for the brands. Talk about a gift from the publicity gods, also known as Jimmy Kimmel and the Academy.

The fun continued on Facebook and Twitter as both candy makers sought to capitalize on the free publicity. On YouTube, the stunt became one of the night’s top viral moments, earning more than 240,000 views by noon the following day.

Overall, this was great publicity for these two well-loved candy brands. It generated $1.9 million in equivalent advertising value for Junior Mints and $833,000 in value for Red Vines, according to Apex Marketing Group.

In the excitement of it all, however, is a reminder for communicators and brands everywhere that anything, good or bad, can happen at any moment. Just ask the makers of Skittles, who were forced to take swift action after Donald Trump Jr.’s unsavory reference to Syrian refugees went viral.

When it comes to brand management, you should always be ready to leverage your channels and resources to communicate with your audience at any given moment; especially when your candy falls from the sky on national television.

What a sweet surprise for Junior Mints and Red Vines.

(Photo by Disney ABC Television Group via Flickr)