National Cinema sells on-screen commercials and still slide presentations that run before theatrical releases. Now, it's branching out into selling media in theater lobbies with its Cinema Marketing Solutions unit. Through that unit, the company is installing massive 5-by-9-foot electronic signs, called Super CineSigns, in theater lobbies in the top 10 markets. Alongside these signs, which will carry a still image for the sponsor, are video monitors in kiosks where advertisers can run their advertising.
Flipside is one of the first advertisers to ink a deal for the new in-lobby advertising, part of a $1.5 million media and promotion package from National Cinema that includes a 30-second commercial running on 41 screens in the top 10 markets from Sept. 15 through Nov. 3.
Part of the Flipside promotion is a sweepstakes in which some 500,000 special computer decoders will be given out in theaters. Another 3.5 million decoders will be distributed in the Oct. 20 issue of People. Filmgoers take home decoders and hold it up to their computer screen to see if they have won prizes. Flipside's agency is BBDO South, Atlanta.
"Our target audience is adults age 25 to 54 and we know from our research there is a high incidence of interest in movies, and also entertainment information," said Virginia Gray, VP-marketing for Flipside. "We are trying to figure out what redemption rate we are going to get. Typically, you can get anywhere from 10% to 60%."
Ms. Gray chose to use in-theater to supplement a $10 million fourth-quarter campaign, which also includes TV, radio, and print. The campaign started with commercials airing on NBC's Sydney Olympic coverage.
Some media executives question the value of in-theater advertising. "It's like outdoor advertising -- it's not accountable," said one West Coast media executive. Pricing is expensive vs. other media, he added, approaching approximately $50 to $100 CPMs. "And they don't guarantee any audience," he added.
WITH DISCOVER NETWORKS
Previously, National Cinema handled a more limited marketing campaign with Discovery Networks for the promotion of its series, "Raising the Mammoth." The campaign consisted of a 30-second spot as well as some traditional non-electronic in-lobby marketing efforts in theaters.
National Cinema, a division of theater chain AMC Entertainment, works on a revenue-sharing arrangement with other theater chains. Given that many exhibitors are undergoing hard times because of an oversupply of screens, National Cinema feels these new revenue streams help bring in new theater groups to its media network.
"The reason that we signed a lot of new theaters is that they are looking at this incremental opportunity with a much more open mind than in the past," said Adrian Toder, senior VP-business development and operations for National Cinema.
National Cinema recently added the National Amusements theater chain to its media network, bringing its total to 10,000 screens nationwide. Less than half of those run slide show-type advertising and/or content for 15 minutes before a movie begins.
About 5,900 screens run commercials for 3 to 4 minutes before each screening.