The Oscars aren't generating much heat this year. Is anyone truly excited about a showdown between Frost/Nixon and The Reader? The Academy Awards broadcast remains a major player in at least one arena: advertising. Despite cuts in corporate-marketing budgets, American Express ( AXP), Coca-Cola ( KO), L'Oreal ( LRLCY) and McDonald's ( MCD), still consider Sunday's awards ceremony a golden opportunity. While such a high-profile broadcast is out of reach for small companies, it's a reminder that advertising counts, even in a tough market. Slashing your marketing budget might seem easier than laying off employees, but it's not necessarily the right move. "I see these times as a wonderful opportunity," said Bill Bartmann, whose company Billionaire Business Systems offers advice to entrepreneurs. "Your competition will be pulling out of the market, and at the same time, media companies are offering special deals and discounts. You get a twofer." Oscar commercials have been fair game for haggling. This year, 30-second spots are going for $1.4 million, down from $1.7 million last year, according to Advertising Age. Last year's show drew 32 million viewers, its lowest ever. This year isn't expected to be much better; the five best-picture nominees haven't been burning up the box office. Even though companies are buying discounted ads, they're still making significant outlays to be a part of the broadcast. Why? To target the large number of affluent women watching the Oscars. Advertising insiders consider it "the Super Bowl for women." Academy Award viewers may actually be more valuable than the vaunted Super Bowl audience. Consider the numbers: It cost $3 million for a 30-second spot during the Super Bowl, which was watched by 95 million people this year. The Oscars are charging half as much, but attracting only one-third as many viewers. That means advertisers are willing to pay a premium to reach them.