“Knock on wood,” says Michael Chico, president and chairman of the Cinema Advertising Council, with both pride and a measured dose of relief when asked about the state of the business that he represents. “We’ve not had one downturn since this whole economic crisis started. In 2008, we were up year-over-year. In terms of 2009, we’re up also. And in 2010, the industry is trending to budget, if not towards even more positive results. Knock on wood, there has been no downturn for us.”
The seven-year-old trade group of cinema advertisers that covers more than 82% of 38,794 U.S. movie screens and includes companies that provide related services and products did not yet have the official 2009 numbers available at press time—make sure to check www.filmjournal.com by mid-June—but Chico ventures that the positive trend is certainly continuing. “Overall the industry saw strong national, with regional up and local showing minimal increases.” On the global front, “we are hearing that international saw high single to low double-digit decreases, while in the U.S. revenue was up minimally.”
In his day job as executive VP, sales and marketing, at Screenvision, Chico recently spoke with Cliff Marks, president of sales and marketing at competitor NCM Media Networks, about the reasons behind such success. “The members of the CAC have been doing a very, very good job knocking on advertisers’ doors and presenting the positive attributes of cinema,” Chico says of their analysis. “We’ve been doing the same at the agency level and it’s just been working. The positive press that we have been getting in terms of admissions and the movies that are being released is obviously helping us. It’s like wind at our backs, but marketing cinema as a whole has been working really well for us.”
Along “with the bigger boost in box office, 3D technology as a whole just lifted the industry in terms of awareness,” he elaborates. “My kids and I have seen a whole slew of 3D films and have enjoyed every one of them.” From an advertising perspective also, “it’s been working well and is obviously a boost for moviegoing audiences overall.”
Chico prefers to leave the technical aspects to the experts in the field, but simply put, “it’s a flash drive that ships to the digital projectors.” Screenvision and NCM completed a handful of media attention-worthy 3D campaigns already featuring spots from ABC’s “Prep and Landing,” Skittles, U.S. Air Force, Samsung and Friskies. Cat food? “Yes, it was very, very well-done,” Chico confirms about the spot that was appropriately taglined “Feed the Senses” and fittingly placed with Alice in Wonderland.
Beyond the movie theatre, Friskies and the new batch of 3D commercials made waves in the advertising trade press as well. “In the past three months, we’ve seen more interest from advertisers than you can humanly imagine,” NCM’s Marks noted to Adweek. “We all have to agree that Avatar has changed the world.” Not to mention the Monster vs. Aliens that are currently promoting Samsung’s 3D television sets. “It shows a young girl taking the 3D movie experience home by cutting a cube of the action out of the screen,” Adweek wrote, “and replicating the experience on her family’s Samsung TV”—highlighting where the excitement all begins. “3D is here to stay, and consumers love it,” Marks is further quoted. “It is one of the most exciting opportunities to come our way in cinema in a long time…”
Back to the flat-screens, Chico offers an additional trend line that he observes at Screenvision. “We’ve gotten a lot of traction with our in-lobby Cinema Scene products. The lobbies will be playing a much more prevalent role in our future revenue stream,” he anticipates.
On the same note, Nielsen just reported huge numbers for such location-based video media. According to the researcher’s inaugural Fourth Screen Report, an estimated 237 million on-location ads were displayed each month from September to December 2009, including at health clubs, bars and restaurants, gas stations, in hotels and movie theatre lobbies. In comparison to the other three screens of television, Internet and mobile devices, the Report states that “video ad exposures to NCM’s and Screenvision’s movie theatre networks combined for an average 61.7 million, meaning that it took about 20 primetime [television] ads to reach the same audience.” In fact, NCM and Screenvision led the on-location pack at numbers one—before elevators and fitness—and four, with 35.3 and 26.4 million exposures, respectively.
More good news comes from a second independent study that gives equally high marks to cinema advertising. “Consumers are highly attached to the movies and they went to the cinema in record numbers,” confirms Gary Reisman, principal at NewMediaMetrics (NMM), a company that offers a patent-protected approach to measuring Emotional Attachment (EA) of consumers to brands and media properties. “Our study shows that movies are a powerful part of the media mix and an excellent way for brands in key categories to connect with customers.”
NewMediaMetrics’ EA scale represents “the research system that a lot of the networks use to determine the emotional attachment that their prospective audiences have for the new shows they are watching,” explains Chico. “A lot of money is placed on that bet of which shows to launch.”
Chico and colleagues liked what they saw in the NMM presentation. “This is a great CAC initiative because…who doesn’t like the movies?! We ran the numbers and, lo and behold, they were phenomenal,” he says. “Our average recall outside of emotional attachment is somewhere between 40% and 75%. That’s very, very high already. If you put emotional attachment on top of that, you can see how our audiences are perceptive and receptive to the ads that are running.” All in all, “this is probably the highest that’s achievable in the media business.”
For levels within the media mix, too, the movies have a higher EA rating (41.5%) than watching major televised sports and entertainment events (see graph). 44.5% of health and beauty customers and 43.9% of those purchasing consumer packaged goods and foods are emotionally attached to the movies, compared with 29.6% and 28.9% for television, 21.2% and 20.5% for radio, and 20.6% and 19.2% for magazines. It comes as no surprise then that these and “many, many more categories are breaking into cinema.”
Chico mentions another few that “are just turning into big, big” opportunities. “The categories that we predicted would be breaking are breaking. And that is why this year is shaping up to be very, very positive so far.” Both the domestic and imported auto segments are “growing like crazy,” and electronics and quick-service restaurants display “tremendous growth” as well.
In closing, the CAC chairman and president lauds the increased quality of cinema advertising as well. “When somebody is launching great creative, they’ll do so in cinema. I’d say 70% of our ads now are just the best creative that is used everywhere.” Although Chico doesn’t think “folks are building too many creatives just for the cinema,” he would venture “the percentages are high for both launching their best creative and using their best creative in cinema.”
The 360 About NewMediaMetrics
NewMediaMetrics’ 360 Cross Platform Study is a syndicated industry-wide study that helps marketers identify consumers who are emotionally attached to measured brands and then creates the optimal strategic messaging and media mix in order to reach these targets. The 2009 study commissioned by CAC had a base of over 3,000 persons 13 to 54 who ranked their EA (Emotional Attachment) to brands and media on an 11-point scale (where 9 or 10 = “Emotionally Attached”). Media measured included television, magazines, newspapers, the Internet, radio, cinema and non-cinema out-of-home (OOH) media.
GROSS MONTHLY DIGITAL VIDEO AD EXPOSURES, P18+
Rank, Network, Venue, Persons 18+, % 18-34
1 NCM Movie Theatres 35,301,188 47%
2 Captivate Elevators 31,332,148 55%
3 Zoom Fitness Health Clubs 29,396,229 43%
4 Screenvision Movie Theatres 26,390,071 47%
5 Zoom Social Bar/Restaurants 25,165,269 84%
6 AMI Bar/Restaurants 22,609,400 53%
7 The Hotel Networks Hotels 22,196,922 34%
8 GSTV Gas Stations 21,306,028 44%
9 indoorDirect Restaurants 14,146,853 43%
10 RMG Fitness Health Clubs 9,548,019 35%
TOTAL: 237,392,127 50%
Source: The Nielsen Company