Cinema Ads Should Enhance Movie-Theater Experience

At Marquee Marketing at the Movies Confab: Media Execs Discuss Ways to Broaden $600 Million Business

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NEW YORK ( -- Spider-Man, Shrek and Harry Potter aren't the only familiar names movie fans will be reacquainted with on the big screen this summer. An increasing amount of blue-chip brands are making movie theaters a standard part of their overall media plans, having made cinema marketing a $600 million business in 2006.
Coca-Cola nabbed top overall spot from the Cinema Advertising Council's Creative Excellence Awards committee for its 'Happiness Factory.'
Coca-Cola nabbed top overall spot from the Cinema Advertising Council's Creative Excellence Awards committee for its 'Happiness Factory.'

But as Cliff Marks, president-sales and chief marketing officer for National CineMedia, said at the top of the third annual Marquee Marketing at the Movies Conference in New York, it's still not for everyone. "We must remember that nobody comes to the movies to see our preshow. Our most important role is to enhance the movie experience."

Here to stay
That traditional moviegoing experience isn't going away anytime soon, as all speakers present could attest. Jeff Giles, executive editor of Entertainment Weekly, waved off the notion that the importance of seeing movies in theaters would become diminished with the continued rise of home-entertainment devices.

"The people most obsessed with TiVos and DVRs are the ones who go to the movies more than anybody else because they're obsessed with movies," he said. "No crazed movie buff is going to buy a big plasma TV for their house and sit around waiting for 'Spider-Man 3' to come out on DVD."

After a soda-and-popcorn break, a panel of movie marketers and buyers pointed to several other emerging technology devices that will complement the moviegoing experience in the near future.

"There's an opportunity with cellphones that can still be explored," said Greg Castronuovo, VP-group account director, Initiative Media. "What we'd like to do is take some of the traditional things out-of-home media has done and deploy them [into movie theaters]." The panel's wireless representative, John Harrobin, Verizon's VP-advertising, agreed, despite some reservations about the potential executions of the technology. "Text messaging has grown dramatically, but there's a point where its use [as a marketing tool] has got to be organic."

Verklin's tech forecast
Carat CEO David Verklin, the keynote speaker of the conference, hosted by Advertising Age and the Cinema Advertising Council, couldn't resist ending the event with four technological forecasts of his own. First point, watch for the major gaming launches in 2007, he said, reminding the attendees that 2.3 million copies of Microsoft's "Halo" flew off shelves the week after it was released in 2004. "That's better than any opening weekend [at the box office]," he said.

Second, keep an eye on the iPhone, which is poised to have a dramatic effect on the mobile industry when it launches this summer, he said. "The ability to see a website the same you see it online will be a game changer."

Third were the TV innovations under way with TiVo, Veoh and Joost, all of which will help create more targeted experiences for consumers, programmers and marketers.

'Database of intentions'
Mr. Verklin's final forecast for 2007 was John Battelle's oft-referenced "database of intentions," which he summed up as being an aggregation of every result list ever tendered on a product or brand. With this data, Mr. Verklin said, "Coke will truly know what its customers want before they do."

But Mr. Verklin wasn't the only one making buzz-worthy predictions. Since Entertainment Weekly's Mr. Giles appeared the same week his magazine's annual "Summer Movie Preview" hit newsstands, one audience member asked him to predict the upcoming season's biggest hit and most-likely flop. Mr. Giles forecasted that "Spider-Man 3" and "Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End" would likely duke it out for the top spot, but the biggest flop was a touchy subject. "I'll get calls from studios five seconds after I walk out of here." After being pressed, he admitted "Die Hard 4" was a rather big gamble for an action franchise that's been shelved for over a decade.

While "Die Hard" star Bruce Willis may not be taking home any awards this year, a handful of advertisers were recognized by the Cinema Advertising Council's Creative Excellence Awards committee at the conference for their big-screen efforts. TBS took home the Top Long-Form Cinema Advertisement Award for its "Department of Humor Analysis" short film starring John Cleese, while Coca-Cola nabbed Top Overall Spot for its "Happiness Factory." Top Integrated Cinema Advertising Honors went to the Army National Guard for its "Citizen Soldier" campaign. Other awards were presented to Basketball America (Top Still-Image Advertising), the Country Music Hall of Fame (Top Digitally Animated Still) and Regions Bank (Top Local Spot).
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