By Abdul Aleem Sheikh

In today’s age when consumers have everything literally at their fingertips, advertisers are busy devising new ways to interact to sell something they probably won’t need otherwise. Technological advances have changed everything from where consumers watch their favorite shows to how they buy gifts for their loved ones. This is the era of Facebook and Google, the era of wireless technology – where consumers can dictate the type of adverts they want to watch.

Internationally, agencies are now making campaigns for greater fragments of society than they previously did. They now try targeting adverts to the right person at the right time in the right place and think that is enough. In short, advertisers claim that customer segmentation is dead and it is okay to set up an automatically generated slew of ads based on digital input. In a country like Pakistan, it is far from the truth.

While internationally, huge amounts of money is being spent on marketing research, digital adverts, and various BTL activities like branded events and product placement – think James Bond and his Omega watch; Pakistan is still spending 60% of its ad revenue on television, while internet advertising only has a 1% share, according to Gallup Pakistan 2011-2012. The agencies in Pakistan are still stuck in the traditional form of advertising, but in terms of the market they target, it is the right approach. If Gallup Pakistan’s statistics are to be quoted, then the entire industry focuses primarily on TV, Print (23%), Outdoor (6%) and Brand Activation/Point-of-Purchase/Direct Marketing (6%). What is missing from the report is a figure for Cinema advertising, showing that the industry does not pay particular attention to this medium; a real shame.

“A moving-picture audience ought to be an inspiration to an advertising man. I have sat in a moving-picture theater full of kids and grown-ups and have thought, ‘If I only knew how to reach these people, I would know all about advertising’”, wrote Don Herold (1889-1966), acclaimed writer and cartoonist. True to the quote, cinema offers a unique opportunity to reach already segmented consumers according to the movies on show, and offer an environment where consumers are in a frame of mind to be entertained, thus are more receptive to advertising messages.

International researches carried out highlight how this once neglected media generates higher ad recall compared to other mediums. National CineMedia, a cinema advertising and theater marketing company, carried out a research using state-of-the-art technology that measured the unconscious responses of moviegoers to ads shown to them in movie theaters, and surprisingly they were considerably more engaged than the same type of ads shown on other media such as TV or the Internet .

Another extensive research program conducted by AMR Interactive on eleven Australian advertising campaigns has proved that cinema advertising has a significant impact on consumer’s propensity to buy and drives return on investment for advertisers. People impacted by Cinema and TV advertising for the brand demonstrated a three-fold increase in propensity to buy the brand, compared to the uplift measured amongst those recalling TV advertising only. The research proved that Cinema, when used in conjunction with TV, delivers a higher uplift in propensity to buy for advertisers than the same budget used exclusively on TV. The research’s key findings stated:

Compared to people impacted by TV ads only, those impacted by Cinema and TV advertising demonstrated:
• Higher brand liking
• Higher brand image
• Higher advocacy for the brand
• Perceived the brand as representing better value
• More favorable response to the brand’s advertising

Screenvision’s 2009 research regarding Cinema Advertising proves that the medium has a bigger emotional pull than any other for certain demographics. For example, it was found out that cinema advertising enjoyed a high degree of emotional attachment among Xbox owners, suggesting that cinema ads would be effective vehicles for new games, upgrades and an array of Xbox accessories .

In essence, the most important element of cinema advertising is to think big, because that is the beauty of cinema; you have the space to create something that no other platform could support, and you can integrate it into any other marketing activity. A successful integrated cinema advertising + TV campaign can have a huge and lasting impact on an audience and no idea is too big to play out. Integrated experiential activities are also becoming the norm, where brands interact with the consumers through one on one activities in cinema foyers. The emotional attachment that consumers have to the cinema environment further emphasizes the value that advertisers achieve by associating their brands with the movies. Advertisers who are looking to reach their high-value customers should include cinema advertising as part of the media mix.

If local ad agencies go through the 3 researches mentioned, they will realize that in terms of success ratio of an ad campaign, they are potentially sitting on a gold mine – one they haven’t given enough attention to. With new cineplexes popping up around the country, this is the right time to invest heavily in this medium. It offers advertisers a unique platform for advertising their products and services and allows the development of big creative ideas that wouldn’t work on any other platform. Cinema attendance is currently seeing resurgence, especially in metros & large cities globally in general and in Pakistan in particular. This medium does not just include commercials airing within the movie theater, but the venue brandings, ticket area, foyer, main lobby, pillars, entry/exit areas of the venue, floor, and ticket branding all form part of this medium. Initial foray into this area has proved successful for certain brands, and now more and more brands have started using the cinema as one of the advertising mediums. Brands have started associating themselves with specific movie launches, automobile brands associate with movies related to cars & adventure, phone and cellular handset brands with innovation & science fiction movies, and kids’ brands with cartoon movies. Cinema owners who already have seen more than 70% tickets sales growth in the last 2 years, have started packaging movie launches with brands, which makes it more exciting and eye catching for the audience, apart from creating an emotional attachment factor. As more consumers visit movie theaters, advertisers have an opportunity to get their message in front of a captive audience. People still love going to the movies and unlike television, cinema advertising gives advertisers access to a captive audience who are relaxed, and where in the dark their eyes are only glued to the giant screen, the advertisements leave a lasting impression. Like most of us know, things on a screen look way better with popcorn.

Abdul Aleem Sheikh is Operations Director, Digital & Broadcast Media – Orient McCann.


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